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Saugatuck says Simon for council seat

Saugatuck says Simon for council seat

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By Jim Hayden, Correspondent

Saugatuck City Council Monday appointed former Mayor Catherine Simon to fill the last four months of the council seat vacated after Jeff Spangler resigned earlier this month.

Simon will be sworn in and serve through the November election. She will not be on the general election ballot.

Mayor Ken Trester said he was looking for someone who had prior council experience because of the short term before the election. Simon, he said, “has the greatest depth of experience” of the five applicants.

Simon owns the Maplewood Hotel, 428 Butler St., served on the council and was mayor from 2004 to 2006. She was a founding member of the Saugatuck Center for the Arts and recently served on the committee that evaluated the police agreement with the City of Douglas.

She was not at Monday’s meeting.

“Having served in the past, I am ready to step in with no training needed,” she wrote in her letter to the council. “Though I have not served in several years, I am always abreast of current concerns facing the community.”

Simon supported the consolidation of Saugatuck and Douglas, an issue voters rejected in 2013. In May, she opposed a Saugatuck Public Schools $39.9 million bond proposal that failed by three votes.

Councilman Barry Johnson acknowledged his disagreement with Simon on those two issues but supported her appointment Monday. “This is America. You respect other opinions and move on,” he said.

Council members Bill Hess, Johnson, Jane Verplank and Trester supported Simon’s appointment. Chris Peterson voted against it. Mark Bekken was absent.

Resident Garnet Lewis spoke against Simon’s appointment.

“I’m a little disappointed – maybe greatly disappointed – given the optics,” she said, noting Simon’s opposition to the school bond. Some residents have complained that some current council members openly opposed the proposal.

Lewis also said the council should have interviewed all the people who applied —Mike Deem, Kathleen Klage, Corwin Stoppel and Stephen Boyd — for the opening.

The city advertised the vacancy. Those interested filled out a questionnaire, then Trester then recommended his choice for the council to vote on.