ELECTION 2020:: Saline City Council Questions & Answers

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Six candidates are vying for three seats on Saline Council. Incumbents Dean Girbach and Janet Dillon are among the candidates. So, too, is Heidi McCelland, who previously served on council. Joining them in the race are are Brian Cassisse, who ran in 2019, Jenn Harmount and Dawn Krause.

The Saline Post posed questions to the candidates. Here are their answers.

Biographies

Dean GirbachAge: 57Education: Eastern Michigan University. Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration- Accounting. Saline Area Schools.

Career Experience: Consultant (U of M)/Semi-Retired 2017-present. Financial Lead Manager, University of Michigan – School of Public Health. Dean’s Office 2003-16. Various positions at U of M including; business manager, administrator and accountant 1986-2003.

Government Experience: Councilmember 1998-2003 and 2010-Present (Mayor Pro-Tem, 2000, 2012,2020). 

Current Appointments: Local Taxing Authorities (TIFA, EDC) 2001-2020. Planning Commission 2012-Present. Transition team. Risk Management Task Group. Saline Township UDA.

Past Commissions, Board and Task Group Appointments:

Boards – Historic District Commission (HDC), Parks, Environmental, Youth, Saline Area Fire Board, Zoning Board of Appeals. Task Groups – Non-Discrimination Ordinance, TIFA Renewal, Rec Center, staff hiring committees. Michigan Municipal League - Finance and Taxation Committee. National League of Cities - Human Development Policy Committee.

Other Associations and Organizations:  NACUBO National Associations of College and University Business Officers 1990-Present. CACUBO Central Associations of College and University Business Officers 1990-Present. Saline Area Historical Society – Treasurer June 2014-Present. Saline Main Street Business Economic Restructure Team 2012-13.

Janet Dillon

Age: 50Family: Husband, Matt; Children, Sydney, Grace, CooperCareer: ParalegalEducation: Michigan Municipal League Elected Officials Academy. Saline Leadership Institute. National Academy of Paralegal Studies. Quinnipiac University.Government experience: Council Member, City of Saline - 6 years.. Member, Saline Area Fire Board. Chair, Saline Comm. Addiction Prevention Task Force. Co-Chair, Saline 150th Celebration Task Force. Chair, City Manager Hiring Committee. Commissioner, various City committees and commissions.

Heidi McClelland

Age: 46Family: Husband Scott, Children Quinn (18), Avery (17) and Kaleigh (15)Career: Owner/Photographer Heidi McClelland PhotographyEducation: Bachelor of Science from Eastern Michigan University in Interior DesignGov’t and Volunteer Experience:  4 years on City Council. Parks Commissioner. Arts and Culture Committee Member. Youth Council Council Liaison. Saline Main Street Design Team. Oktoberfest/Kinderplatz. Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Hiring Committee. Community Foundation Task Force. Pleasant Ridge PTA Board Member. Saline Co-Op Preschool President.

Dawn Krause

Age: 49

Family: Husband: Ted Troxell, Professor at Central Michigan University. Son: Grant, 18, Saline High School Grad 2019, Gap year in New York City. Daughter: Gabrielle, 14, Freshman at Saline High School. Son: Willy, 11, Passed away in 2015 due to a terminal brain disorder.

Career:  Research Administration, University of Michigan Medical School. Federal and Foundation financial grant management.

Education: I have two degrees from Michigan State University: International Political Science & History (Concentration Eastern Europe) and I am a member of the National History Honor Society.

Government Experience: My government experience pertains to advocacy that stems from the fact that I had a son, Willy, who was born with a terminal brain disorder. He was diagnosed at 4 months and wasn't supposed to live past 2. He passed away almost 5 years ago at age 11. Throughout his life, there were numerous chances to advocate for him and for the special needs population in different areas. We took him to Washington, D.C. and did advocacy work there with NCART (National Coalition for Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology). I have also testified in Congress both on the National and State levels. The advocacy project I am proudest of is my work with the Michigan Legislature with regards to Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders in the educational setting. Willy had a DNR but his school did not honor it as per their policy. Over the last 6 years I have worked with both Republicans and Democrats (most recently with Daire Rendon (R) and Rebekah Warren (D) although there were many others involved), to bring broad legislation changes to our state's DNR Act and our School Code. Currently the bills are set to hit the Senate floor for a vote any day now and then on to the Governor to sign into law. For reference, they are House Bills: 5417, 5418, and 5419. These bills will provide consistency in how DNR orders are treated in school districts across our state. Many times, children with terminal disorders are terminally ill, but not actively dying. So it is not uncommon for these children to have a DNR but still attend school while they are healthy. The six years of work has been completely bi-partisan and I've had wonderful support from both sides of the aisle. These bills should be signed into law soon.

Jenn Harmount
Age
: 48
Family
: I have an 11yr old Son, Ryan
Career
: Purchasing Analyst at Toyota R&D (22+ yrs with Toyota NA)
Education
: Bachelors in Marketing & Supply Chain Management from Michigan State UniversityGovernment Experience: Involved Resident

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

Why are you running for council?

Dean Girbach

My reason for running still holds strong and true after two decades of service, I have immense feelings of personal pride, achievement and well-being in dedicating myself to making Saline a great place to live, play and work.

Janet Dillon

As I reflect upon my six years on City Council, I can wholeheartedly say that I remain an engaged, hardworking and trustworthy member of City Council. I take pride in being prepared, asking questions and seeing issues from other prospectives. I work collaboratively with my fellow Council Members, the Mayor and City Staff. Through listening to residents and business owners, participating in the community and understanding the impact of issues I believe I provide a needed prospective to aid Saline in remaining a thriving community.

Heidi McClelland

I wholeheartedly believe the key to a successful City and Community is volunteerism and participation in the process of government. I have enjoyed serving the citizens of Saline as a volunteer for many years both in the schools and community. I was a Councilmember for 4 years and look forward to being able to serve in this capacity again if I am elected. I am refreshed after taking this year to focus on my family, ready to take on the challenging issues that Saline is facing. I am running this year because I think there is work that needs to be done that I can bring a reasoned, educated, and knowledgeable voice to.

Dawn Krause

For most of my adult life I have been involved with advocacy and volunteerism and the next logical step for me was to run for council. I firmly believe we all thrive when residents come together and take active roles in their communities. Not everyone is able to contribute in the same way or the same amount of time. Right now, I have one child left at home and she is a freshman in high school, so I have time to dedicate to city council. I have more thoughts on this matter on my campaign website which is www. ElectDawnKrause.com. I would encourage those interested to research what I am about and reach out with any questions.

Jenn Harmount

I am passionate about serving my community. I relocated for my job 4 yrs ago back to Michigan. I chose to live in Saline based on it’s beauty, proximity to my work (~8 miles away) and Great School Rating. We moved into our historic house which is approx.. 110yrs old in June, 2016. Saline quickly became home for both my son, Ryan, and I. The home we purchased is on Monroe St close to downtown Saline. I loved how we could leave the car at home and just walk downtown to go eat or attend festivals. What I did not love was the smell of the wastewater treatment plant wafting thru my windows. or notification process about things that were impacting our house. I started to get involved in attending City Council meetings as a concerned resident. .Having experience as a buyer/ procurement Specialist, there are areas of opportunity I see with the current process. I believe I can assist to help make improvements with regards to strategy and the review of contract bidding process and recommendations. This community has come to mean a lot to me as a transplant and I realized it was my time to try to help make some positive changes in the city I will raise my son.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

What are the key challenges facing the city, and how should council meet them?

Dean Girbach

I believe Council goals for the next two years and beyond first need to address the impact of COVID. Immediate goals should focus on economic recovery, its impact on the city's budget, our business environment and overall effect on citizens.

Gains the city has seen from a healthy residential real estate market and continued growth in property valuation will most likely be offset by State Revenue sharing cuts. City services will need to be evaluated in terms of efficiency and possible alternatives. What in the past were considered off limits, may now be feasible due to technology advancements, behavioral changes and more realistic cost savings.

Ongoing immediate challenges include repairing our image and reputation related to racism, finalizing an approach to address the wastewater treatment plant and continuing an aggressive infrastructure renewal program. Activities which are currently in review, being bid out or assigned to work groups for further investigation and recommendations.

Janet Dillon

In the immediate near term, hiring of key management personnel will set the tone to move the City forward. The City Manager position is the responsibility of City Council and therefore Council must take ownership in the success or shortcomings of that position.

Addressing succession planning. Again, choosing a visionary City Manager with a strong team building skillset who can analyze and utilize key data like the recently completed organizational review and compensation study.Prioritizing Infrastructure. Stable and well maintained infrastructure are nonnegotiable. Saline has a duty to its taxpayers to be effective, responsible and proactive in the economic and strategic planning of all of its infrastructure requirements.Remaining aware of budget restraints while prioritizing the needs of thecommunity. Council must continue working in conjunction with City Staff to better utilize a more complete understanding and incorporation of the City’s near and long term goals.

Heidi McClelland

Some of the key challenges Saline faces are racial and diversity issues, maintaining world-class service for residents, and making wise decisions about growth in a smart and reasoned way. The most pressing service issues are the wastewater treatment plant, other infrastructure, and staffing needs. It is a Council Member's responsibility to be informed, to come to Council meetings well prepared and ready to make decisions after listening and digesting information. Council needs to take a TEAM approach to listening and working with each other and with staff and community voices to meet the needs of all.

Dawn Krause

I hit the campaign trail in March, which is early, but doing so has allowed me to gather a lot of resident feedback regarding key challenges facing our city. I also posted a query in Saline Posts which as of now has over 700 comments regarding what we could use or want here in Saline. I’ve taken all of this data and created a master spreadsheet to try to nail down exactly what our challenges are, what we want, what we need, and what is not working. When it is done, I will present this in graph form. For now, the key challenges based on my own observations and resident feedback are (in no particular order): 1) Infrastructure issues – slow internet, cloudy water, and an ever-problematic waste water treatment plant (WWTP), to name a few. When it comes down to it, residents really want efficient basic services. They want clean water. They want their mail delivered on time. They don’t want to smell waste. 2) Lack of Diversity – This goes hand in hand with issues we have had with racism in Saline that has landed us in international news. I grew up here. This isn’t new and that is sad. It’s way past time to move Saline beyond its reputation as racist. As a collective, we are at our best when our community is rich in diversity including other races, ethnicities, abilities, religions, and gender expressions. We need to become safer and more welcoming for everyone in ways that we have previously fallen short. When elected, I plan to work diligently with our newly formed DEI Task Force as well as the 109 Cultural Center to bring in more ethnic type festivals and cultural activities to add to the wonderful events we already have. 3) Growth – We are at a growth crossroads. How do we keep our small town charm and simultaneously continue to grow? Growth will happen around us whether or not we, as a city, are involved. We do not want to remain stagnant. I have already been taking a deep dive into the city’s master plan and trying to orient myself to what that plan looks like. We currently have failed developments on all sides of town. Along with failed developments comes blight and loss of tax revenue. We also need diversity in housing which includes more available options such as duplexes, affordable condominiums, zoning options for current single family homes, and single story construction. We must institute robust 3, 5, and 10 year plans so that we can meet our future needs in a proactive manner. This will help to avoid continued failed developments.

Jenn Harmount

Saline is a beautiful historic community, again, something I was immediately drawn to when I moved back to the area and was looking for a place to live. One of the challenges with an older city is its aging infrastructure (ex. Waste Water Treatment Plant & roads) and the demands growth puts on capacity. I believe that City Management needs a better strategic plan to map out maintenance scheduling and incorporate short- term and long-term project priorities so we are taking a more proactive rather than reactive approach to these issues. The city needs to better anticipate when repairs & replacements are needed and bundle jobs for bid in a way that ensures the work is cost-efficient, while still being completed on schedule and in a way that is actually effective.

With the onset of the COVID pandemic and many citizens being reluctant to engage thru traditional in- person events and meetings, we need to seek new ways to ensure all citizens are informed about what the City is doing and all voices are heard and valued. I would like to create a reimagined City of Saline website that is easy to navigate and provides a visual mapping of all current projects around town. It would also provide all meeting minutes & documents connected to each project. I want to ensure we provide multiple ways for citizens to attend future city council and committee meetings including continuance of online attendance and easier ways for citizens to interact at those remote meetings. I would like to see that all items up for vote involving budget expenditures or contract award include a transparent summary to the public about the way the decision was made, including what options were considered and why one option was chosen above others. I believe that openness and transparency are a key part of collaboration between government and the community and is needed to increase citizen engagement in decision making. Finally, I would like to make sure we are modeling a community that is inclusive and welcoming to all.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

Tell us about your political philosophy and how it will guide you on council.

Dean Girbach

I look to uphold the values of fair treatment, equality, responsibility and stewardship. Local government is tasked with providing services, protecting its citizens, supporting business and assuring tax dollars are spent appropriately. I work towards solutions by investigating symptoms, evaluating problems, acknowledging mistakes, analyzing the causes and looking at alternatives. When government works on common goals, it can achieve much success. However, it often fails immensely when allowed to further the destructive beliefs of a few. I cannot uphold policies or allow practices which harm our community or endanger our residents psychologically or physically.

Janet Dillon

My political philosophy is truly a culmination of who I am.

I strive to be a genuinely good person. I value honesty, dedication and awillingness to listen to and explore differing viewpoints with the interests of all of the Saline community in mind. These are the cornerstones to which I have build my political philosophy over the past 6 years.

I also strongly believe in fairness and accountability to the Saline community. 

Other aspects of my life also greatly influence my political and overallphilosophy. I am a proud Rotarian and the immediate past President of theRotary Club of Saline. Rotary has a motto “The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do”, which is; First, Is it the TRUTH? Second, Is it FAIR to all concerned? Third, Will it build GOOD WILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIP? Fourth, Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? From the first time I heard these questions, they really stuck with me, and I have incorporated them into my decision-making process.I also proudly acknowledge my Christian faith. It’s shown me forgiveness when I faltered and always provides me with a foundation of grace and acceptance.

Together, the sum of these parts is the basis for my political philosophy.

Heidi McClelland

I firmly believe in treating everyone with respect, professionalism, and a caring heart. Saline is full of amazing, talented and passionate people and I truly think that making sure that people feel valued, respected and heard is part of being on a successful team. We can only be successful if we work together and lift one another up. Experience tells me that in government things can be tough and hard decisions need to be made. Sometimes people will disagree on issues and policy decisions but I think if we can treat each other with respect, professionalism and a caring heart we can do big things even if the circumstances are difficult.

Dawn Krause

No Answer

Jenn Harmount

I am a registered Independent. The position of a City Council member is one of non-partisan and requires the objective listening ear to best represent all residents with a cross sectioning of ideals. It is important to reach across boundaries to develop the approach and solutions that will best benefit the residents of Saline. A main principal of my life is to find the root of the problem, not just the symptom, and seek out data driven solutions.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

What’s the job of a council member and why are you the best candidate to fulfill those duties?

Dean Girbach

The job of a councilmember is to be engaged with the community, be well informed and prepared to evaluate, discuss and address the concerns/expectations of the community and city operations. Councilmembers are elected to represent and make decisions. A councilmember assists the council and mayor in developing policy, establishing goals, approving the budget, assuring compliance and supporting the city manager in keeping the city effective in meeting citizen’s expectations. A councilmember does not continually interject or evaluate daily operations, interfere with staff performance, oversight, or publicly ridicule to make a point. A councilmember functions as a valuable member of the Council in hiring and evaluating city managers, establishing goals and targets, evaluating results, collecting feedback and taking corrective action to adjust, reassert or change its trajectory for better results.

As for qualifications, I have dedicated thousands of hours in listening, learning and reading to keep myself informed, knowledgeable and connected. I have worked with three mayors, a dozen or more councilmembers, multiple board members, numerous city staff and most of all, many, many citizens of Saline and its surrounding community.

I have a proven record of consistent approach, insistency on accountability and demand for equitable consideration in Council's approach to policy. During my tenure Council has annually adopted a balanced budget, maintained a consistent city millage rate and continued to provide quality services. The city has completed significant infrastructure improvements and renewals, expanded every aspect of its tax base and enacted a non-discrimination ordinance. Our community remains safe, forward-focused and dedicated to providing a high quality of life for all residents.

Janet Dillon

A Council Member has many roles. By way of the City’s Charter, City Council is the governing body of the City. Within that purview, it is this body which enacts the laws (ordinances), creates policy, levies taxes and provides overall oversight of decision making processes.

Away from the dais, a council member has a duty as an elected official to know the residents and be an engaged member in the community.

We each have a role. This has been one of the most important lessons I havelearned while on council. Imagine a seesaw, City Staff are on one side and Council on the other, with the City Manager sitting in the middle. One side thrusts up with their proposition, the other side then must receive that action and react. Sometimes there is a lot of ups and downs, but through that process and the assistance of the City Manager guiding those ups and downs a balance is found.

Heidi McClelland

The Council's job is to set policy, to recognize and value staff’s professional expertise. Council’s job is to make wise decisions based on the information presented and researched. It is the duty of Councilmembers to make the best decisions for the whole of the city that it can, after thoughtful, reasoned study and discussion. It is my responsibility to be informed, to come to Council meetings well prepared and ready to make decisions after listening and digesting additional information that comes out in a discussion. This is how I have done the work in the past and how I plan to do it in the future if I am elected. I believe in being humble and being a servant, so I won’t say I am “the best” at anything ever, but I do promise to do the best I can, to listen, to research, to study and bring the wisest decisions I can to the table.

Dawn Krause

I’d rather address this question as to what the job of a council member is not. It should not be the job of council to micromanage city staff. Once we get some of our vacancies filled with dependable and trustworthy staff members, most notably the city manager position, as well as work to improve the information exchange between council and city leadership, council should concentrate on broader issues and future planning versus day to day operations.

Jenn Harmount

My position as a Purchasing Analyst at Toyota R&D has best prepared me for the role of a Saline City Council member. As a purchaser, I regularly make buying decisions about automotive projects based on a defined process and fact-based data. It also requires transparency, accountability and the consensus of major stakeholders. Therefore, I’m familiar with the need to ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the company, present and future. These are the same kinds of considerations that Saline needs to take into account when making decisions about things like land acquisition, constructions projects and integration of future businesses.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

Describe Saline’s problem with racism and what steps Saline City Council can take to deal with it?

Dean Girbach

Saline must accept change as part of its culture. As a 21st century community, our city must champion causes dedicated to admitting past mistakes and readily addressing race, diversity and disparities. Outreach and inclusion of the underrepresented in all aspects of governing must occur. Those who are most impacted or continue to be harmed and excluded must be empowered to lead these initiatives. My hope is council will as a whole, provide unfettered encouragement and the means to truly move us forward.

Saline’s greatest need now is to develop viable alternatives to address disparities. Open discussions, significant community involvement through focus groups, policy change and committing city resources may begin to address needed social change. One recent example was my determination to provide our Chief of Police an ability to redirect his focus from administrative needs to more community outreach, pointed training, and community inspired reforms.

Janet Dillon

Saline is not alone in its struggles with racism. It has been deemed a national and local health crisis. That’s not a means of justification. To confront the issue we must first bring a higher level of acknowledgment of the racism endured by those who are marginalized in our community.

"When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don't get to decide that you didn't." -Louis C.K.

The City of Saline has begun making steps forward on this long journeyincluding the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. We must all commit to do better and be better.

Heidi McClelland

It is clear we have work to do, as does the rest of the country and the world, in making real change in the hearts and minds of people, and in our institutions. What better place to make a real change than the place you call home. We need to be open to listening and learning so that the deep pain of racism can be understood and the urgent need for change is recognized. Saline needs to be active in making sure we are leading the way, using best practices with DEI training and policies, listening sessions and forums and providing educational opportunities for Council, staff, and the public. We need to be making sure we are working so that no one within the city feels like they are not welcome or have the same opportunities as any other citizen. We are only Saline Strong when we are including everyone in all of the things we do. That includes celebrations of our collective heritage which are diverse and beautiful. I will work to make sure we are showcasing that rich and beautiful tapestry when we plan events, celebrations and set policy. 

Dawn Krause

As a white girl growing up in Saline, I didn’t see the racism. Years later, different classmates of color have made public their experiences. Needless to say, some had a very different experience growing up in Saline than I did and I am disappointed in myself that I didn’t catch what they were going through back then. Racism in Saline is not new and the fact that it still exists is disheartening. As a city council member, I will make sure that my actions and decisions serve to ensure racism is run out of town permanently and that people of color feel safe in our town. My position at the University of Michigan has afforded me quite a lot of diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development and we are encouraged to take advantage of many of the resources available to us. I consider that one of my best job perks and I can apply what I have learned on council. I plan to work closely with the newly formed DEI Task Force, which one of my closest friends, Kerstin Woodside, brought to the city. I also plan to collaborate with the 109 Cultural Center to bring additional cultural events to town. Right now we have the Celtic Festival as well as Oktoberfest which are both amazing events. But there are so many other cultural festivities that are meaningful and fun and can only serve to make our community richer. I’d love for all Saline residents to feel safe enough to allow us a peak into their own ethnic and cultural celebrations and hopefully this can happen through the 109. So yes, racism is a problem as is a general lack of diversity. We aren’t safe until we are all safe.

Jenn Harmount

Unfortunately, there is a problem that exists. It’s prevalence, although not readily acknowledged by some, impacts small businesses, causes younger families to not want to move here and has led some perhaps to move away. The national and global coverage of recent incidents of blatant racism have painted the City of Saline in a negative light. In order to even start repairing Saline’s reputation, there needs to be a hard stand against racism and hatred of all kinds. The DEI task force is great start in the reidentifying of what Saline stands for. In the area of equity & inclusion, there can never be best…only better, and we should continue to strive to be better.

Brian Cassisse

What’s your perception of the working relationship between council members, the Mayor and city staff, and what can members of council do to improve it?

Dean Girbach

Public meetings are intended to be productive and fruitful discussions. Airing of grievances, lengthy repetitive Q’s and A’s or a demonstrated lack of preparation can and often erodes public confidence, delays decisions and compromises the cohesiveness of the council. Council needs to establish acceptable norms and be willing to hold one another answerable when straying from agreed upon behaviors. Council members must be active listeners, encourage staff participation and avoid “I got ya“ moments. City staff must be encouraged and empowered to bring about ideas and workable solutions. An effective organization and its leaders promote honesty, full disclosure and communication without fear of a full-on public reprisal.

Janet Dillon

In my opinion, overall it’s average. There are without question moments of back and forth, levels of frustration, and inferior professionalism. I believe a key to moving forward is hiring a City Manager with a strong skillset in team-building to aid in bridging and balancing all parties. The City Manager is the gatekeeper of the climate.

Heidi McClelland

My opinion here is that there is work to do. Part of the reason I took a break last year was to concentrate on my family, but it was also because the environment in politics had become so confrontational and negative. I believe in treating people with respect, that includes respecting people's time by being prepared. I value the staff as professionals and feel there is no need to treat them with mistrust. The city should be a team. The team doesn’t always have to agree on everything but we must do better in how we approach issues and decisions. We need to come to the table putting the best construction on motives and ideas. We need to work together and not against each other, whether as council to council, council to staff, or council to residents. I don’t think anyone wants to see the city, its residents or anyone fail. We need to remember that we are a team and that there is room for disagreement but it needs to be all of us doing what we can to bring the best service and standard of living to the citizens.

Dawn Krause

The perception is that there are issues between council members and city leadership that have stalled or hindered open and honest dialogue. Answering very honestly, it seems as if there were issues involving the previous city manager and the sense of factions or different groups of people collaborating on the side.

For example, there were WWTP permit violations in March and September of 2019 that were not disclosed to council until December 17, 2019 (or at least not disclosed to all members of council). In February of 2020, the city was notified that these two violations were being escalated to Michigan’s enforcement division of EGLE (Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy). It is my understanding that penalties are now being negotiated in litigation and that the city is under an Administrative Consent order. This is just one example of seemingly distrustful processes that will end up costing the city money, not only in attorney fees but the upwards of $100,000 fine that will need to be paid.

We have to ask could these fines have been avoided had the communication between departments and council have been managed better and had we been working on a plan to respond to the violations in a timely manner? As a side note, I believe there was yet another permit violation issued to the city in August of 2020. I believe it was council member Jim Dell’Orco who started pushing for a public meeting with regards to these issues fairly soon after he was elected.

I think the bottom line is that we have to ask ourselves if our actions and words are helping to promote healthy, open, and transparent relationships or not. Are we making sure that the right information is being provided to all of those who need that information? I will be advocating strongly for better transparency between council members and city leadership.

Jenn Harmount

My perception is that, it should all be part of one team trying to work together to come up with the best solutions & ideas that benefit the residents of Saline. Both City Council and Staff should have the sole objective in mind to protect the assets, resources and vitality of this community. This includes having a strategic city planning approach that is proactive instead of reactive and includes short-mid-long term targets and goals. I would like to see a standardized decision approval process developed for future projects and expenditures better outlining options and recommendation criteria.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

Andelina Farms and several other township parcels are identified on the master land use plan as urban development areas and potential areas for annexation. Should the city be working to bring those parcels into the city? Why or why not?

Dean Girbach

The loss of Andelina Farms annexation is a great disappointment. Council and staff worked diligently on a proposal which benefited the city and township financially, addressed many infrastructure needs and eliminated significant environmental concerns of a packaged waste treatment plant and related discharge. It's unfortunate, despite the willingness of the city, the developer chose to not wait out the delay.

My position, like that of most others, is that without some growth, services provided must either be reduced or borne by the existing taxpayer/user. Affordability concerns can be addressed by spreading costs to others.

Fortunately, we can carry on cooperation with our township neighbors through joint Master Plans. As we have done in the past, responsible planning will allow Saline to effectively grow with mutually acceptable outcomes.

Janet Dillon

The City should be actively pursuing a viable and strategic plan of action with an associated realistic timetable including a predetermined outcome. Without a plan of action, how will the City realistically be able to determine its overall needs and associated costs? In the end, the biggest question that must be answered is why does the City want these parcels and how do they fill that need. Extensive vision, planning and engineering are essential.

Heidi McClelland

I thought that Andelina should be brought into the city. I know the pandemic curtailed the possibility of making that work. However, these developments will go forward whether they are part of the city or not and those residents will consider themselves “Salinians'' even though they won’t be part of the city proper. I think it's wise to plan for smart growth and increasing the amount of people that will be part of the city's resources. We need to be very careful that bringing additional developments and parcels into the city won’t overload existing infrastructure, but the parcels will be developed whether they are in the city or the township. Bringing them into the city, if possible, is a good opportunity to have some control over what happens with that growth. We just need to be smart and thoughtful about protecting existing resources as we grow our housing and business opportunities.

Dawn Krause

It is my understanding that we are currently unable to move forward with any annexation until we clear up our EGLE violations. Right now the City of Saline is in a timeout. However, I am in favor of annexation as a general rule. Andelina will go down as a very unfortunate situation and loss of tax revenue for our city.

I do think we have to look to annexation as one way to grow and build our tax base. The thing is, growth will happen around us in our neighboring townships whether the City of Saline is involved or not. By annexing, we will retain some decision-making abilities so that the growth can be done with planning and thought and as it aligns with our master plan. The residents of these future township developments will still come to our city, eat at our restaurants, drive on our streets, utilize our resources (fire and police), and in general become a part of our community. To say no to annexation and not work in conjunction with the township and developers, is only doing our city a disservice in the long run.

I will strongly advocate for 3, 5, and 10-year planning. Right now is not the time to annex considering the current state of our WWTP. But if we were simultaneously working on 3, 5, and 10-year plans, we could make sure the WWTP issues are an immediate concern while also seeing where we want to be in the future. The time for being reactive instead of proactive is over.

Jenn Harmount

I am not against growth to expand out tax base and revenue, however it needs to be done in a manner that includes a process of transparency and collaboration with the community. As Saline sees opportunities to expand it is important that we do so responsibly. This starts with resource assessment as part of a smart growth strategy. We need to make sure we are taking care of current needs of the community before we expand beyond the existing boundaries. We do not want to expand and keep building without truly understanding how we are going to accommodate that growth, including issues with our infrastructure, otherwise it could cause unanticipated costs and undue hardship to current residents and businesses.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

Describe the smartest way forward on updating the wastewater treatment system, Does that plan involve increasing the capacity of the plant?

Dean Girbach

Within the next few months, a final decision of relocating or remodeling/expansion of the waste water treatment plant must be done. As the costs of possible alternatives are in the range of $28-100 million dollars, based on many discussions, feasibility, costs and logistics, our optimal solution is to remodel in place, adopt new technologies and plan for phased expansion as growth occurs, allowing reasonable rate increases and future users to contribute to expansion cost.

Regardless of what is done, increased capacity is needed to effectively address increasing heavy weather events. Hopefully, to some degree, it can be addressed with new tech, redesign and replacement of outdated structures. Failing to include some reasonable increase in an initial phase would be a costly lost opportunity.

Janet Dillon

The City must increase capacity as the current level is insufficient to fully meet our current needs under certain circumstances. The recently completed Sitting Study, which will be our road map for expansion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant and is a first step in the process to identify capacity needs. Concurrently there must be in depth strategic planning of the City’s desired outcome for growth and the plan and timeframe to achieve that result. This is an immense and absolute step in the process of consideration of annexation. To create any plan without the consideration of the overall interdependence is short sided and could be a costly misuse of resources.

Heidi McClelland

This is probably the most complex infrastructure issue that the city faces. It's a 30+ year old issue and a 50+ year old plant. I have been away from the decisions that have been made this last year regarding this issue but to my knowledge from listening and processing information, it seems to me that the best way forward is probably to expand capacity at the current space. This is not a small endeavor and will take much research, thought, and many resources. We owe it to residents to get this right both for the short term and the long term. In a perfect world with unlimited resources I would love to see us connecting to a regional facility that would service the city and townships… but I am not sure that is something that is realistic either geographically or monetarily.

Dawn Krause

It appears that the current council is finally on track to move the WWTP solution forward. There were four options presented to council and only one of them, to expand the WWTP in place, is financially viable. The increased costs to residents with the other three options were phenomenal. It is clear that the city residents would not be amenable to bonding $90 million all at the same time, because in order to bond, there has to be a revenue-based payback set up and this revenue stream would come from our water bills. In order to keep the increase in our water bills reasonable, the WWTP updates will need to be done in phases. This phased approach means that we are only going to add capacity as needed as new developments are added. It is my understanding that council will convene a work meeting in the near future to develop a consensus on the options presented. I do know they are still waiting for the phase 1 study results on the Adient property across the street from the WWTP to see if utilizing that land to increase our WWTP footprint is viable. There is PFAS in the ground on that property so I am not sure anyone considers that a viable option. Nonetheless, council needs to have the results of that study before moving forward with any of the options.

I will say that since I started campaigning in March, I’ve tried to dig down into the history of the WWTP and what went wrong and why it has been so hard to keep it running properly and without odor and it has been a complex puzzle. I’ve reached out and spoken with so many current and past city leaders and the sheer amount of conflicting information has been difficult to digest. The only thing I can ascertain completely is that we should have been more ahead of the game and made plans for these issues sooner. This plant was built in the 50’s and some of these issues should have been on the radar before they became issues.

I live on West Henry and I still smell the odors all the time. I feel badly for those who live even closer than I do and I just hope it can be resolved soon. I look forward to seeing that the work meeting to discuss these options is scheduled soon.

Jenn Harmount

Understanding the capacity of Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in this current Covid work-from-home environment is paramount. It sounds like there are issues that Saline WWTP is unable to handle added capacity when we have storm surge incidents. It is my understanding we have had some violations concerning our WWTP resulting in yet undetermined fines. It sounds like there will soon be a vote to move forward with a solution that most likely involves expansions to the current site. We truly can not continue to move forward with further development until we fix the issues that exist within our current boundaries.

Brian Cassisse

No answer

Everyone who runs for office talks about the need for transparency. When is it OK, in your view, to conceal information from the public?

Dean Girbach

As a member of council, it is the responsibility of each member to look out for the community when facing legal actions. Lawsuits, contract negotiations, settlements and city manager performance reviews are handled in closed session to develop strategy, understand concerns, allow for very limited and focused discussion and reduce liability. As having voted “no” on many occasions, the use of closed sessions is subject to the councilmember’s willingness to either challenge or accept the conditions of the meeting and vote accordingly.

Janet Dillon

Conceal is a very absolute and intentional word which by definition means to “keep (something) secret; prevent for being known or noticed”. I would not view this as the opposite of transparency. Without hesitation I believe the City has a duty to keep the community informed. To be informed does not necessarily encompass providing every detail. There are numerous reasons to withhold certain pieces of information while still being able to provide transparency. I believe, through development of a clear policy ofcommunicating information in a timely manner would aid in better publicawareness.

Heidi McClelland

I don’t think concealing information from the public is ever a good way forward. Do I think the public wants to KNOW all the nitty gritty details about lightbulbs, phone systems, types of copiers that staff is buying and other operational type issues? No, I don’t. My philosophy is that constituents can and should ask me or any council member about any of the things that happen from a policy-making standpoint. We don’t necessarily need to take the time to discuss all of the nitty-gritty operational details at every meeting. It goes back to that trust and responsibility thing. Council members are elected to sit through the nitty-gritty stuff -- reading packets, researching information, being informed and being responsible to communicate -- and to make sure residents who want to have the information get it. We need to be communicating on issues and making sure residents are informed and have the opportunity to be engaged and active in the process of government. I truly believe that the most successful government is one where everyone is involved and informed.

Dawn Krause

When I speak of transparency in office I am more referring to transparency between council members and city leadership. (See my answer to the question about the working relationship between council members and city staff.) Clerk Royal does a good job of making sure the meeting minutes and agendas are posted on the city’s website so from that perspective, transparency is great and appreciated.

Transparency between council members, city leadership, and the public is a different situation. The Open Meetings Act has criteria to guide when a meeting can be open and when it should be closed. There are very specific situations in which a governing body can go into a closed session. Examples of this are discussions including but not limited to pending litigation, contract negotiation, real estate deals, and union contract negotiation. Decisions cannot be made in closed session, just discussions.

But then there is this concept of letting the public know something might be going on that affects them. A recent example is the Eastlook drainage situation. There were comments on social media indicating the city didn’t do anything wrong, technically, about delaying notice regarding the issues in that area. So perhaps that’s true. However, I strongly believe that it is the city’s responsibility, through whatever channel deemed appropriate, to communicate information to the public in a timely manner if something is on the radar.

Jenn Harmount

The Open Meetings Act outlines when meetings should be closed and when information shared with the public needs to be limited. Other than that, I believe in making information easily accessible and transparent to all residents.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

What’s your position on property tax levels in Saline?

Dean Girbach

Saline’s dedicated city millage rate has held steady for many years. The only recent material increase was the voter approved dedicated one mil for streets and related improvements. What is impacting our city property owners the most are multiple non-city millage increases approved by Washtenaw county voters. This revenue primarily support schools and county operations, with minimal return for city operations.

Further, despite property valuation increasing, actual growth in property tax revenue is limited due to the Headlee amendment. As a result, any realized increase is limited to an inflation factor set by the state. Saline has primarily benefitted from new construction and just this past year, retiring of debt service, to balance the budget, pay for new initiatives and offset on-going operational costs exceeding inflation. Reducing operating millage now will immediately impact city services, requiring either deferrals, cuts or further reduction of fund balance. As there is definitely a possibility of further State Revenue cuts, Saline faces additional long term financial setbacks if revenue drops including; depleted “rainy day” fund, lower credit ratings and increased borrowing costs.

Janet Dillon

No one wants to pay more in taxes. I know I don’t. That being said, if you take a close look at the breakdown of taxes, the majority of your current tax payment is for other sources beyond the City of Saline. Currently the City does an excellent job realizing tax dollars into services provided. Is there room for betterment, of course, there is always an opportunity. It is expected that over time expenditures will become more costly. What is level of compromise? What are you willing to forego? These are important questions to consider when assessing tax levels.

Additionally, we need to hold the State and Federal government to a higherstandard. Funding which was promised to municipalities and then in manyinstances without warning rescinded leaves communities to find a way to make up the shortfall.

Heidi McClelland

It’s clear that we have property tax levels that are higher than some of our township neighbors but I believe the services we provide have great value. I will always do my best to try and maintain balance in this area.

Dawn Krause

They are high. They are high for what we get in return. I have been systematically combing through the city budget to see where our tax revenue goes. I am strongly in favor of looking at our current budget and seeing where it could be reallocated to improve our quality of life here instead of increasing taxes. This is a common task in my position at the University of Michigan. Most of the grants that I manage have very definite and limited budgets. Instead of asking for additional budget, I work very hard to look at where funding is currently allocated and see if we can shift it around. I would always do this long before ever asking for additional budget because additional budget is rarely available. I view this as being a good steward of the money that is entrusted to you.

Jenn Harmount

There is no doubt that the property taxes in Saline are higher than most. I believe that it is important, that, in all decisions involving municipal assets and funds, need to be thoroughly veeted and protected though a robust strategy including risk mitigation. I believe in improving efficiencies before raising taxes.

Brian Cassisse

Should the Saline Police Department maintain a local dispatch center? Why or why not?

Dean Girbach

Council must periodically review all functions of the city for priority and viability. Is it a luxury or a necessity? Dispatch is perceived as one of our most valuable and needed service. However, communities are realizing their ability to attract, fully train and retain qualified staff is extremely difficult. Cell phone technology has changed how calls are received, processed and distributed. There are other alternatives provided by Washtenaw County which may provide more reliability in terms of consistency, coverage, practicality and cost. Additional assessment must be done to review our current approach.

Janet Dillon

To say a definitive yes or no at this time would be an off the cuff remark that has no fundamental data behind it. From my experience, what I can say is in the past, on more than one occasion the conversation of transferring Salinedispatch services to Washtenaw County has been raised. What was thought to be an “easy” cost savings measure was met with great dissatisfaction from the community and therefore was not pursued. I know that our community values the sense of security that comes with our small town feeling of knowing each other especially at a time of vulnerability. It’s my feeling the City has a duty to continuously explore options and avenues in providing services and make decisions based on multiple aspects including factual data, advantages/disadvantages, financial resources, and community input.

Heidi McClelland

Yes. I think there is value in having local dispatch that knows the citizens and can respond in an efficient and community-oriented manner. I know years ago there was talk of outsourcing that department but I think the overwhelming sense from the community was that the local dispatch was of value and I would agree with that. The team behind that desk does an excellent job and provides a valuable service to all of us, from being there for questions on non-emergency calls to routing emergency calls where they need to go.

Dawn Krause

I am absolutely in favor of keeping a local dispatch center in City Hall. Perhaps the most compelling reason for this is because our dispatch center in City Hall is a 24/7 safe haven. Currently, anyone with an emergency can show up at City Hall 24/7 and receive police, fire, and EMS services. Additionally, routing our dispatch to the Washtenaw County Metro which is currently housed downtown Ann Arbor, delays emergency response times. There was a recent example of a home invasion in Washtenaw County where it took 8 minutes just to get the information broadcast out to the responding officers. This is not a commentary on the quality of staff at the county. This is commentary on the sheer workload of a dispatch center, dispatching for a large and busy county. We have had the pleasure in Saline of having some amazing, long-term dispatchers who knew our city like the back of their hand. Saline dispatchers also have administrative tasks so even if dispatch itself was outsourced to the county, we would still have to identify funding to be able to cover the gap for those administrative tasks. 

With local dispatch and staff who knows the city and can communicate quickly and efficiently with the officers on patrol, Saline residents can continue to receive the world class police service they expect.

Jenn Harmount

Centralized dispatch is used by some communities to reduce tax burden. Saline’s dispatcher is not just a dispatcher, but also an attendee for Saline’s 24 Hr Safe Haven as well as provides administrative functions for the department. If we centralized this function, Saline would not only potentially loose responsiveness and benefit of having a Safe Haven attendant on site but also loose that face to face interaction and control over the process. I support having a localized dispatch center.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

What does "Defund the Police" mean to you. Should we defund the police in the City of Saline?

Dean Girbach

No. The statement is in sense a misnomer. A community is defined by its norms with expectations incidents that violate legislative rules, lead to violence, cause physical harm or a loss of property can be prevented, addressed and resolved in some acceptable manner.

I have and will continue to support adequate funding for our policing and protection. However, council must adopt policy changes to address citizen’s concerns, impact of cultural changes, and assure safe and reasonable response. Dedicated initiatives are needed to educate officers and the public; officer training in deescalating encounters, ability to recognize behaviors of mentally or physically challenged individuals, addressing the mental health and well being of officers, reinforcing consequences for unacceptable behavior and holding those who violate accountable to the full extent of the law.

Janet Dillon

Defund the Police is a phrase that can have very different meanings. For thatreason it’s not a phrase I choose to use. At this time I do not have supportable grounds to seek reduction of funding to the Saline Police Department. If the conversation regarding reallocation of Saline Police Department funding within the department was to become the question, my response would be the budget is a fluid document and if the community’s priorities, public safety or focus were to change the budget may need to follow.

Heidi McClelland

“Defund the Police” I think means taking money from the police and funneling it into other resources like mental health and social work (not sure really why that term was adopted though). I am not in support of taking any money or resources away from our police department. I do think we can improve in those other areas and am happy to see that Washtenaw County is already doing some of that in the areas of mental health and substance abuse prevention but I don’t think we gain anything by taking away from one of our most valued resources, our local first responders and law enforcement. Chief Hart does an excellent job at running the department with best practices and a forward thinking approach. Training and continuing education should be something we strive for and allocate resources to, not take resources away from. Public safety is key to having a successful city and the police are a key part of that.

Dawn Krause

I would love to chat with whomever created the phrase “Defund the Police”. Because no one I have ever spoken with wants to actually defund the police.

I do not wish to defund the Saline Police Department. I have had conversations with several Saline police officers as well as Chief Hart and Deputy Chief Radzik and am simply impressed more each day by the quality of our police department. I would almost request more funding for the police department, possibly for a DEA Task Force officer. The little I know of the DEA task force officers, I know that if the money is put up front for this position, the city can receive forfeited money back to offset those upfront costs. In an age where funding sources and revenue streams are increasingly hard to find, we have to think out of the box and this DEA task force position is just one idea.

In the short time Chief Hart has been here, he has implemented some amazing processes that ensure transparency, quality, and continued officer training opportunities. And let me tell you how efficient, SPD is. When Chief Hart was relatively new, I tweeted to him about the speed of drivers down W. Henry where I live. He immediately tweeted back that he’d have officers do extra patrols to see if we could calm the speeds down. Not a week later, my husband was pulled over on our own street and received a ticket for speeding. I told my husband to go pay his ticket and never speak of it again. But seriously, how efficient is that?

Jenn Harmount

I do not think “de- fund the police” is an accurate description of this nationalized movement. I support funds and expenditures that improve or maintain public safety. I believe that there needs to be more diverse solutions and resources to meet these needs. I believe that part of this solution may include reallocating or redirecting funding toward a variant of solutions. I appreciate the leadership of Chief Hart and paving the way for peaceful demonstrations downtown a few months ago. As technology changes so should our solutions.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

What pros and cons would you weigh when asked to outsource work currently done by city employees?

Dean Girbach

City staff must be encouraged and empowered to bring about ideas and workable solutions. Considering operational needs often change related to legislative regulations and standards, hiring in-house employees for specialized services may be short-sighted. Saline’s growing complexity warrants an ability to access a large field of expertise in specialty areas to avoid unnecessary delays, costs or inaccurate interpretations. Hiring outside consultants may prove beneficial in terms of overall savings in dollars, time and long-term effectiveness, avoiding overruns, lost opportunities and costly mistakes.

Janet Dillon

Looking objectively at each situation but with a similar metric is paramount in decision making. From my experience on Council, I would suggest somepoints to consider be financial gain/loss, does the City currently have staffavailable to successful complete the task, would that employee’s time/effort be better spent in other ways? Would this task impact other City staff? Is timing a factor? Is special equipment required?

Heidi McClelland

I guess it depends where and what. I think there is a time and place to use outside consultants as sometimes they can be more efficient and valuable as a consultant than a full time city employee. But there is benefit to having people at City Hall as well, people who know the residents, the specifics of our city and how to deal with issues unique to Saline. So it's an individual approach not a blanket one in this regard.

Dawn Krause

In general, I am not impressed by outsourcing. However, my answer to this would depend on what it is we are talking about outsourcing and what the exact situation is. With regards to the decision to outsource Human Resource management that was made earlier this summer, after all the information came through, I believe it was a good idea. Outsourcing HR right now is a stepping stone to cover things like equity adjustments and the compensation study while we are in between staff members. I do not believe outsourcing HR should be our long term goal. Eventually, I would advocate that the City of Saline hires an HR manager in-house. By not having an independent HR manager in place, many of those tasks would fall to the city manager. This is a conflict of interest and does not encourage a non-biased approach to HR management.

A pro for outsourcing legal is that you can contract with a firm who has attorneys with expertise in different areas of legal content. Keeping a firm on retainer means you can tap into the many different fields of legal expertise. I already discussed the cons for outsourcing police dispatch.

As a city council member, I would have to listen to the options presented and keep an open mind. I do not believe there is a one size fits all answer to this question.

Jenn Harmount

I think that outsourcing can be a steppingstone to level set things in the short term Concerning a HR manager for the City this provides a Non-bias oversite of employment and function. This, I believe is something that would benefit the city in the long term.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

It’s been floated that perhaps South Ann Arbor Street should be permanently closed to create a public square. What do you think of that idea?

Dean Girbach

As a part of COVID recovery, I was very much in support of creating a downtown district to assist restaurants during this unprecedented event. Moving forward, however, council must address a number of concerns as to whether this is feasible on a long-term basis. As business owners often state they rely upon both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, closing South Ann Arbor can and likely will hurt at least two businesses dependent upon convenient and speedy accessibility. Further, due to the fact COVID has continued to impact the volume of commuting traffic, the full impact of a closure cannot be assessed for at least a year or more. I am though open to two- or three-day weekend closures during times vehicular traffic is usually reduced. Additionally, it may make more sense to simply dedicate some on-street parking spaces as an alternative. Regardless, a permanent closure of the street is too premature at this stage.

Janet Dillon

I have always desired a community gathering space for Saline. Where thatspace would be is a query that creates many questions.

The City has closed South Ann Arbor Street for short periods of time toaccommodate various community events. Most recently, the City closed South Ann Arbor Street to create the Downtown Recovery Zone for local downtown restaurants. This was a short-term endeavor without the benefit of a long term prospectus. There must be a more extensive plan toward consideration of a permanent public square in Saline than just closing a road.

Heidi McClelland

I appreciate that the recovery zone has been implemented and that the city has been flexible in making things work for the downtown businesses in this challenging time. I don’t know if I would support a permanent closure though. I would have to see further plans and research on that. I would however like to see a community space somewhere in the city. Something like a town square like Dexter and Northville have. Just not sure that the best place for that is by closing a street.

Dawn Krause

Personally, I am very much in favor of closing South Ann Arbor street permanently. It is very common for cities similar to Saline to have a town square of sorts. Even Milan has one and the Saline/Milan rivalry from when I was growing up is still there just enough for me to be a tad jealous of their Tolen Square. I envision shops along the sides of that area with walkways and benches, trees, maybe some cobblestone for good measure, a town clock, a gathering place where we could come and be together with music and festivities.

However, there are several businesses who have been hurt by the shut down and that would have to be addressed. As a city council member it would be my duty to find a way to accommodate all of our businesses and not just a select few. I’ve been researching this because a healthy, vibrant downtown is important to me and there are state and federal grants that can help subsidize funding for these types of projects. I don’t claim to have all the answers here but I firmly believe it’s an option we need to continue to talk about. I am well aware of the cons related to this idea including heavier traffic on side streets and this would all have to be vetted thoroughly before moving forward.

Jenn Harmount

The Saline Main Street has done a great job of engaging and continuing to engage local Downtown Saline businesses during the difficult time. If this is something which is decided to be needed to provide a more long-term sustainment to these businesses, then I support that idea. The decision would need to be made with all businesses in mind with the consideration to long term impact of diverted traffic. Surrounding impacted residents would need to be duly notified and provided a voice for concerns. We should also benchmark other communities who have done this get their feedback on considerations.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

Tell us about something special in the City of Saline that we are not doing enough to promote.

Dean Girbach

Simply recognizing the contributions of everyday citizens. Saline is only successful and thriving due to its dedicated residents, civic groups, business owners and related volunteers. Our community constantly strives to improve itself despite setbacks, missteps or blatant screw-ups. We celebrate our accomplishments, gather to recognize our fallen, our veterans and our first responders be it police, fire and now clerks, medical personnel and other front liners. We are a community that stretches beyond is borders and looks to expand its awareness through arts, culture awareness, community events, education and numerous common interests.

Janet Dillon

Saline is really good at helping when help is needed. No matter our differences, compassion is always in the forefront of our commitment to each other and our community. There is no expectation of fanfare or reciprocation, just support in whatever way we can.

Did you know that a while back few Saline parents started the online site “Hornets Helping Hornets” for the purpose of providing anonymous help to Saline Area School families in need of a bit of extra help? Did you know that local individuals, families and businesses are the driving force behind funding and donations to Saline Area Social Services?

As the pandemic took hold, so many aspects of our “normal” lives changed almost overnight. Many businesses were forced to close or drastically change their business model, leaving many on the brink of permanent closure.

Saline Main Street began an online fundraising campaign for the benefit of Saline brick & mortar businesses and raised almost $12,000 through thefinancial support of our community. Another great project that was born out of the pandemic is the social media group Spreading Kindness in Saline. On this page people are able to post that they either have a need or a give. It is an effective way to connect those in need with those able to help.

When I think of the quote “always look for the helpers”, I know that I am truly fortunate to live in a community full of them.

Heidi McClelland

Oh boy this is a tough one, cause I think the city does a pretty good job at promoting all the amazing things that its people are doing. I think it's actually one of the best things about Saline. Our festivals, our sense of community, our businesses and historical resources. We do some pretty amazing things and I think everyone should be proud of all the opportunities we have to come together as a community. That said, I think we can do better in promoting diversity and inclusion, and I think we can do better in promoting our welcoming spirit. I think we can always do better in treating everyone with respect no matter their beliefs or politics. We can always do better in how we communicate, an especially challenging task in the time of multiple forms of communication, but I think Saline is a pretty amazing place to call HOME.

Dawn Krause

I think it’s a common perception that Saline is known for its quality schools. We also have amazing police, fire, and EMS. We have beautiful parks and green space with space to roam. The walking trails behind Curtiss Park are beautiful and relaxing. We’ve added some wonderful new shops this past year and our downtown is still alive and well even during COVID. For Saline residents, most of us have found the value of living here. It could be something I listed or something different entirely.

However, I don’t think we promote ourselves as a destination. Would someone from out of town just decide one Saturday night to come on over to Saline to spend time and their dollars? Is there enough of a draw here to bring people to our town to shop and visit? I firmly believe we offer enough amazing things to offer ourselves up as a destination; I just don’t feel we advertise ourselves well.

Jenn Harmount

Saline has lots of fun activities and events and is part of what makes it a fun place to live. I would like to have a collaborative with other surrounding communities and their events to create a more robust event calendar collaborative.

Brian Cassise

No answer provided

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