Three Northville residents are running for two available city council seats in a race to be decided on November 2.
Board members Patrick Giesa and Andrew Krenz are both looking to retain their seats, and newcomer John Carter is looking to serve on the board for the first time.
Giesa, 72, has worked for 42 years in the pre-sales business of computer hardware and software; he also worked in program / project management and enterprise architecture consulting before retiring in 2010 to care for his late wife.
Krenz, 46, is the chief engineer of the next generation of electric vehicles at General Motors. The 13-year-old Northville resident replaced Sam Ekong on city council in May. He has been the Planning Commissioner since 2018 and leads the Northville Farmer’s Market Task Force.
Carter, 41, has nearly 20 years of financial and management consulting experience and is currently the Automotive and Mobility Leader for Slalom Consulting. Carter is a member of the Northville Economic Development Committee, Chairman of the Ford Field Task Force Implementation, and a member of the City’s Sustainability Committee.
Hometown Life sent questionnaires to every candidate seeking information on their platforms. Each question was given a 50 word limit, and responses exceeding this limit were cut short.
Why are you running
Krenz: Make the voice of families heard in our city. I am the only board member with school-aged children. Our city is aging and we need to attract young families who will raise the next generation of 40 year old stewards. We have three children (12, 10 and 7) in Hillside and Amerman and have the ability to see things through their eyes.
Carter: We are about to enter one of the most significant periods in the history of our city. This includes ambitious plans for Ford Field and The River Walk, supporting our business district, and developing a thoughtful plan for The Downs. We need advice that can make these plans a reality.
Giesa: Today’s Northville is a vibrant, active and desirable “destination” city with a deep history of which we are all proud. My goal is to ensure that our children and our children’s children can enjoy Northville as we do today.
What is the thing you love most about Northville?
Carter: There is no limit to the passion and energy within our community. It is because of this passion that we can be ambitious with our plans for Northville. The people of our city are always ready to invest their time and talents to achieve what is best for Northville.
Giesa: Northville is close to many amenities and shopping, but far from major traffic flows. There are two large parks within minutes of a bustling downtown area.
Krenz: Community passion. I have been fortunate enough to live everywhere from Yellowstone to Germany and have never seen the passion and stewardship of this city reproduce anywhere. In the Farmers Markets Working Group, we have 15 experts who could do anything else, but devote their time to designing what could be the cheapest in the region.
What’s the biggest change needed in Northville?
Giesa: Do the redevelopment of the Downs well.
Krenz: Engaging and building our next generation of families. Just look at our parks. They are underfunded and need major repairs. To date, we have only one porta-pot in our flagship park, Ford Field. It is simply not acceptable. Fort Griswold is in disrepair and the stairs to the east leading to Hutton are past their useful life.
Carter: Northville committees and task forces have developed incredible plans for the future of our city. Now we need to move from visioning to implementation. City council will need to bring people together, align with our vision, and work with local leaders to bring these plans to fruition.
What Northville-related program or initiative are you most proud of?
Krenz: Planning Commission Community Awareness Committee. A group of four have spent hundreds of hours soliciting, organizing and posting community feedback from two surveys of which areas of town The Downs will be in for the master plan. Then when COVID hit, we found a way to have online open houses where dozens of our neighbors met us online to design their own developments.
Carter: I was an elder, chief financial officer and president of the non-profit association at First Presbyterian Church in Northville during the financial crisis. I am proud that we have guided the church to financial stability during these difficult times. This is important because the municipal council must serve as the steward of our community’s finances.
Giesa: In 2018, I founded The Northville Sustainability Team. Key sustainability tents are now appearing in the city’s budget goals and targets. You’ll also see them in the city’s long-term plans. If done right, Northville will be carbon neutral by 2030.
What can or should the city do, if anything, regarding racial equity in the city? How will you ensure that city staff are treated fairly?
Giesa: One of the three pillars of the City’s Sustainable Development Plan (Social) concerns Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DCI). The sustainability team will review the city charter and recommend changes to raise and improve our DCI standards. I will ensure that municipal staff are treated fairly by my example.
Carter: We need to provide an entry point for young families to move into our community. Studies show this will bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives while ensuring that we are able to train the next generation of “40 year old Northville residents” with a passion for our community.
Krenz: The most significant and exploitable opportunity that we have before us is, and is enshrined in the revision of the master plan, is the desire to introduce designs to The Downs that are both a ‘foot in the door’. for young families and a destination for our seniors who want to “age in place” in the city they love or want.
What do you think is the most important job of a board member? Why?
Krenz: This is in fact a behavior that applies to all of their responsibilities. They must possess the ability to capture and process the opinions and positions of all stakeholders involved, from subject matter experts to long-time members and stewards of this community to balance, without pride, these contributions towards the best results. possible for each situation.
Carter: The city council is responsible for setting the priorities and goals of our community. From there, they must work with our citizens, committees, task forces and neighboring communities to ensure that these priorities are funded and managed properly.
Giesa: My most important job is to listen to the people of our city and to make decisions based on as much information as I can gather.
What are the most important features you would like to see included in a Northville Downs development?
Carter: Northville’s rich history is exemplified by every neighborhood in our city. I am in favor of reasonable density with lot sizes that allow homes to become unique over time, businesses on Cady that are connected and enhance our business district, green spaces including the promenade river, and viable plans for traffic and parking.
Giesa: Sustainable development implemented with things like walking, connectivity, complete streets, diversity (socially and in terms of design), affordable homes, green design and creation of places.
Krenz: The Planning Commission has already imposed the restoration of the 1,100 feet of the Red River! I have full confidence in this. Data from our citizen surveys show that the second most important commodity is the farmers’ market. Currently, the sitemap has NO accommodation for its future. As chair of the farmers market working group, I will ensure that we have a permanent site with maybe a four season design.
Northville has created an outdoor food and social district, closing parts of Main and Center streets at least until April 30, 2022. What do you think of the extended street closures and what is your preferred timeframe for continuing the social district, called The Twist?
Giesa: Our social district has been a lifeline for our city. Street fencing adds a net positive effect to the vitality and business of our city (ie much less traffic accidents, many more pedestrians…). I would like some form of social neighborhood to stay in downtown Northville.
Krenz: The Twist was a smash hit, even after more communities opened up last summer. I think we have something great here that other communities just can’t replicate. A poll earlier this year showed over 80% support. With the closure of Center Street, traffic jams and accidents are on the decline. This is a great victory for the traffic / walkability balance in our city!
Carter: The Social Quarter played a vital role in saving our restaurants and stores in Northville during the early days of COVID, and many are now thriving as a result. We need to get feedback from the community to make a final decision as soon as possible so that we can address parking and traffic issues.
Contact reporter Ed Wright at [email protected] or 517-375-1113.