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DeWitt, Carlson, Matteson win Ferrysburg council seats

Marie Havenga • Nov 7, 2017 at 10:30 PM

FERRYSBURG — Two members of the Save the Parks committee have been elected to Ferrysburg City Council.

Richard Carlson (466 votes) and Dan Matteson (438), along with current Councilman Mike DeWitt (470), beat out candidates Ivy Barnes (436), another Save the Parks member, and former Councilman Scott Blease (432).

Carlson and Matteson were both supporters of mayoral candidate Regina Sjoberg, who lost the mayor contest to Rebecca Hopp by 29 votes.

Carlson, who was present at City Hall when the election results came in, got a congratulatory hug from Sjoberg on Tuesday night.

“First and foremost, I'm thrilled that the parks initiative passed,” Carlson said. “That's going to put the sale of any city parks in the hands of the voters rather than City Council. I'm certainly excited about the opportunity for public service.”

Carlson said he hopes to be a calming influence on council.

“I'm looking forward to repairing some of the fracturing that's been going on in the community,” he said. “Some of the council meetings have been cantankerous at best. I'll try to provide a voice of reason.”

Carlson said he's disappointed Sjoberg lost her mayoral bid.

“Certainly I'm disappointed because I worked closely with Regina Sjoberg with the parks initiative,” he said. “I'm looking forward to working with Miss Hopp. I don't know her, but I'm looking forward to getting to know her.”

Carlson said he's pleased so many people ran for office.

“It's been too long where we've had too many seats unopposed,” Carlson said. “That can breed bad things even with the best of people. People should always have some opposition and be able to state their beliefs in public.

“We just need to be a smoother, more professional City Council,” he continued. “We need to work well with city staff and not jump on the city staff's toes. I just want to get this community moving forward.”

Matteson, who has not responded to repeated phone calls in the past few weeks, was not available for comment after the election and did not attend the Save the Parks celebration party at Old Boys in Spring Lake on Tuesday night.

DeWitt, who has served on council for six years, said he attended a celebration party with Hopp, but could not say where “because Rebecca didn't want anybody to know.”

DeWitt said now that the election is over, he hopes things settle down.

“Hopefully, with this election behind us, the animosity will be lessened,” DeWitt said. “The people have spoken.”

The first order of business will be finding funding for the Smith's Bayou bridge, which engineers have said needs replacing. Ferrysburg voters defeated an up-to-3-mills proposal Tuesday night, 607-355.

“They didn't pass the bridge millage, so we have to squeeze $12 million out of the budget somehow,” DeWitt said. “That's going to be a No. 1 issue. We will have to look at where we can get money to repair or replace that bridge. Other than that, I hope to keep the city on solid financial footing and do the best we can to maintain a balanced budget.”

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