Barbara Valentine said she gives mixed reviews to Clare Fryers – departing as Mayville’s village president after 14 years on the village council.
But Valentine, 45, said that when she heard Tony Windham had entered the race to succeed Fryers, it’s one reason she had to seek the village president’s position herself.
“Tony’s late for meetings, he misses meetings, or he leaves early,” Valentine said. “How can you do that and be village president?” Mayville’s 655 registered voters decide Nov. 8 whether to select Valentine or Windham, 49, who is a member of the village council.
Voters also will choose three winners among four candidates for council seats: incumbent council members Sue Atkinson, William Barkowska and Steve Charette, and write-in candidate Elisia Anne Weber. Each winner receives a four-year term on the council.
“I’m never late for a meeting and in the two years that I’ve been on the council I think I’ve missed maybe four meetings, and it’s only because there were medical issues in my family,” Windham said.
Windham said that on the occasions he missed council meetings, Valentine “wasn’t even coming to the council meetings, so therefore she might not have known what was going on with me and my situation.”
Windham said he left a recent budget workshop meeting early to aid his wife who had just had surgery. He said he would have been able to attend the entire meeting had it occurred on its originally scheduled date, but noted that the council changed the date.
“After we had been there for an hour and a half – the meeting started at 7 p.m. and we were still there at 8:30 p.m. – I got up and left,” Windham said. “I excused myself and I left. As far as meetings I’ve missed, my daughter has kidney failure.
“She had a transplant probably six years ago … and she’s back on dialysis, and at those times she’s in the hospital. That’s the reason why I miss the meetings. If it came right down to it, I believe – like any politician – your family should come first. If I felt I could not serve the village council in the right way, first of all I would never run.”
Valentine said she’s formerly a member of the Mayville Planning Commission.
“Tony was actually on the planning commission, too, and never showed up for a meeting,” Valentine said. “He was appointed by the council to the commission because they needed to make a quorum, and he never showed up to a single meeting. He missed six meetings.
“He’s been on the village council twice now, and the first time, he quit.”
Windham, who works as maintenance man for Mayville Apartments, said his leadership approach won’t resemble Fryers’ methods.
“I know Mr. Fryers could be a wealth of knowledge and some of that information, I’m going to need, but I think our styles will differ quite a bit,” Windham said. “I want to make it back to where our meetings are more inviting to our residents, where they can come and feel that their opinions and ideas are valued.
“One of the things that I’d like to do, also, is rebuild the trust between our residents and our village council.”
Valentine, a Mayville-based business consultant, said she worked as controller for Bay Harbor Marina in Bay County for about three years, and also worked as human resources manager there.
She said she received a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a master’s degree in business administration. She emphasized that she has worked in jobs where she has dealt directly with customers from Mayville.
“A lot of people in town have worked with me in business, or have seen me in a professional environment,” Valentine said.
Valentine said she’ll focus on bringing new residents to Mayville to buy homes in the village.
“They haven’t had a good plan to attract new residents, which is why we have such a high ratio of renters here, which brings the property values down,” Valentine said.
Windham said he wants to improve the public perception of Mayville.
“One of the reasons I ran for village council,” Windham said “is because I would listen to people in communities around Mayville, and they’d ask ‘Oh, you’re from Mayville? Is so-and-so still village president? Is this still going on?’ It was all negative, but I don’t want that. I want positive things for Mayville.”
Windham said he’s like to start a farmers’ market at the village’s Ohmer Park. “I think not only will our local farmers be able to come and sell their goods there, but it would bring more people into Mayville and create more positive feedback about Mayville instead of all the negative stuff you hear all the time.”
Valentine said she’ll strive to improve a village employee evaluation and compensation system that she said has “no structure.”
“You have to determine whether or not the employee is meeting all of the criteria necessary for the job description that they have, but the job description that they have has not been accurately established, so you really have to work on the job descriptions and what the village needs,” Valentine said.
“Then you have to determine whether or not the employees that are in place are meeting those criteria. If they’re not, then there’s always a training option, or an option to look at different alternatives. I’m not going to say what those are right now, because I’m not familiar enough with it to say that.
“I’ve heard, from both sides and from a variety of different people, what they think should be done. But in terms of what I believe, I need more information, and that information gathering is going to take probably 30 to 60 days. It will take an evaluation process to figure out exactly what employees are doing, if it’s what they need to be doing, and how much they’re getting paid for doing it.”
Windham stressed he’s a leader with an even temperament. He said his mother, Sandra Baxter, and his wife, Stacy Windham, owned The Broken Teapot café and gift shop in Mayville, which operated for several years along East Main Street but has closed down.
Valentine characterizes herself as firm but fair.
“I’m very direct,” Valentine said. “Some people can take that as being rude. That’s not my intention. I have a very strong compass on what’s right and what’s wrong. My compass points north.
“I know what I believe is right and what I believe is wrong, and I act accordingly. I’m good with people when they give me the opportunity.”
Valentine said she’ll be an asset to improving Mayville’s village finances.
“There were 14 years when I was a single mom with two kids,” Valentine said. “I know how to stretch a dollar. I put myself through college while I was raising the kids.”
Windham said he and another council member have tried, for weeks, to persuade the Mayville council to schedule a budget workshop to allow council members to properly examine village expenses. He said that when the workshop wasn’t scheduled for whatever reason, he took a stand and advocated not paying village bills.
“Until we sit down and have a budget workshop … I’m not voting to pay the bills, because we’re paying out more than we’re (taking) in, and to be fiscally responsible, you can’t do that,” Windham said. “I just can’t see how you can pay out more than what you bring in.”
Valentine said Windham isn’t doing the village any favors with such an approach.
“You can’t do that,” Valentine said. “You and I both know that your bills don’t go away because you don’t pay them. They get worse, because you pay late fees.”
Windham said he wants to run a “fair and honest” campaign, not degrading his opponent.
“I feel people should just be able to look at my record and look at what I did and vote for me as village president, and if not, hey, I’m happy for that, too,” Windham said.
Fryers said he believes he did the best job he could for the village as a council member and, since about 2005, as village president.
“I think I filled my time to the village and I feel I did well while I was here,” Fryers said. “It was time for me to move on. It was putting a strain on me a little bit so I thought ‘Well, I’ll move aside.’”
Fryers, 70, who lives across the street from the Mayville fire station where village council meetings take place, said he’ll provide information and assistance to either Windham or Valentine.
“I’m going to sit here, watch across the road and see how they act,” Fryers said. “If they come and ask questions, I’ve got a lot of information that they’ve all lost and I’ll just give it back to them.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org