Mayoral election heats up

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By Brett Kast
The Bath-DeWitt Connection

On Nov. 4, residents of Dewitt will have the choice to either keep or replace their Mayor of eight years.

Julie DeRose hopes they choose a replacement, as she is stepping up to the plate against the incumbent Jim Rundborg. DeRose is a longtime resident of Dewitt, and has degrees from Ferris State and Western Michigan Universities. She is also co-owner of Smith and DeRose Insurance and serves on the Education Commission at St. Jude Catholic Church in Dewitt. Julie says she is running because in the past few elections, the mayor has run unopposed, and Julie believes she is the legitimate candidate to give him a challenge.

Julie DeRose hopes they choose a replacement, as she is stepping up to the plate against the incumbent Jim Rundborg. DeRose is a longtime resident of Dewitt, and has degrees from Ferris State and Western Michigan Universities. She is also co-owner of Smith and DeRose Insurance and serves on the Education Commission at St. Jude Catholic Church in Dewitt. Julie says she is running because in the past few elections, the mayor has run unopposed, and Julie believes she is the legitimate candidate to give him a challenge.

“For the last four years, we who pay a lot of taxes in Dewitt have been led by a city council that has been part of a very closed group for a long, long time, led by the mayor who was unopposed,” said DeRose. “That leads to complacency, it leads to a lack of accountability.”

Rundborg has also been a longtime resident of Dewitt, calling the city his home since 1987. He currently works for Central Michigan University and has over 40 years of experience in the education field. He is a member of the DeWitt Downtown Authority Board, DeWitt Memorial Board and the Ox Roast committee. Rundborg became a member of the Dewitt City Council in 2001 and was elected mayor pro-tem in 2004.

“During my tenure as Mayor we have made great strides in revitalizing our downtown, improving our City Parks, and continuing to offer services that benefit our residents,” said Rundborg. “I would like to continue to bring businesses to our downtown, maintain and improve the services we have come to expect from our Department of Public Works and keep our financial situation stable into the future.”

Among other things, Rundborg believes the key reason why he is the best candidate for the position is his experience.

“Experience, strong leadership, ability to build collaborate relationships with DeWitt Township and DeWitt Public Schools and being fiscally responsible over time makes me the best candidate,” said Rundborg.  “My opponent has never been to a City Council Meeting or participated in any area of our City Government.  We need a leader not a learner as the Mayor of DeWitt.”

DeRose is using Rundborg’s experience against him, claiming that the current leadership has been a closed group for too long, in which there is no accountability being held,

“I think questions need to be asked,” said DeRose. “The tipping point of all of it was when I discovered that they, the city, used our tax dollars to buy a church. And I have a real problem with governments getting in the real estate business and basically dictating local economies, and molding them the way they want them to be.”

Despite her lack of experience in the city government, DeRose feels she has plenty of outside experience to excel at the position of Mayor.

“I have worked for state government, I have managed very large budgets, millions of dollars in grants, I have written grants, received them, so I think that is a skill or talent that could be used well in the city.”

If re-elected, Mayor Rundborg says he has plans to continue to improve Dewitt’s bridges and roads, and feels one of the biggest issues facing Dewitt right now involves improving the downtown.

“Finding quality businesses to fill the three empty buildings in our downtown that our residents will support,” said Rundborg.  “Look for new ways to work with others to bring businesses to our area and to lower costs of things that we all do, but could do better together.”

DeRose also said she feels strongly about improving downtown. If elected, DeRose feels the most important issue and the first thing she would do is evaluate the city spending.

“That would be one of my first priorities… to review the spending, review our long term plan for the city, see where we are at with that plan, and see if that plan should be tweaked,” said DeRose.

The elected position of Mayor in the City of Dewitt is a two-year term. The mayor has many responsibilities. He/she serves as Chief Executive Officer of the City and is the official head of the City for ceremonial purposes. They are responsible for directing and supervising the administrative officers, except the City Attorney. The Mayor also presides at all Council meetings and has veto power in the instance of a tie of the City Council.

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