By: Benjamin J. Gohs, Associate Editor
The field of five candidates seeking three open Boyne City Commission seats has been narrowed to four.
[private]Originally thought to be a valid candidate, 29-year-old Marvin Charles Verwys of Boyne City was disqualified from running when it was determined he has not lived within Boyne City limits for one full year prior to the candidacy filing deadline of Aug. 16.
“One of the things I do is validate (candidates) to make sure everything is valid by our charter,” said Boyne City Clerk Cindy Grice, who confirmed that Verwys has been removed from the ballot for the Tuesday Nov. 8, election.
The three open seats include the seat vacated by former commissioner Dan Adkison resigned in order to move outside the city limits earlier this year; commissioner Mike Cummings who has decided not to run for another term; and Mayor Chuck Vondra, who has also decided not to seek another term.
Those seeking election include Delbert Towne, who was appointed to take over for Adkison upon vacation of his seat; 46-year-old Mark Gerald Dole; 46-year-old Derek Gaylord; and 56-year-old Thomas B. Neidhamer.
Candidate: Mark Dole
Occupation: Dole is owner/operator of Pineapple Cottage Care.
Family: He has a wife and two children.
Political experience: None
“There’s several things I think the city can do. For example: the mess across the street from Glen’s (Devlon property). I think the city should try to acquire that and do something with it,” Dole said. “I’d like to see ways created to keep more money in town, and I think we should get together with the group doing the skateboard park and help with that project to give kids something to do and keep them out of trouble.”
Dole said qualities which make him a good candidate are his honesty and willingness to fight for what’s right.
“I’ll work hard for the local people,” he said.
Dole, who has lived in Boyne for more than 40 years, is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Candidate: Derek Gaylord
Occupation: Charlevoix County Jail Administrator
Political experience: None
“I’ve been a resident since 1995, and I love this town,” Gaylord said. “I think we’re doing great things here.”
Gaylord said his community service includes helping with the annual Boyne City Police Department drag race fundraiser.
Characteristics which make him a strong candidate: “I’m going to look at every topic that comes in front of the commission and thoroughly evaluate it to determine if it is of benefit to the city.”
Gaylord said he has no agenda coming into the election.
“I just want to be able to contribute and serve the citizens,” he said. “My vision and what I’d like to be a part of is a continued balanced approach – obviously we have wonderful tourism industry … and we need to continue to encourage business investment in our community.”
Candidate: Thomas Neidhamer
Occupation: Retired teacher/coach
Family: Wife and three daughters
Political experience: 15 years on the Boyne City Planning Commission
“I have enjoyed the challenges and being involved with the planning commission and I think this is a natural stepping stone,” Neidhamer said. “I have passion for Boyne City because I grew up here and raised my family here.”
He added, “I think 23 years of teaching and coaching at Boyne City High School kind of indicates my commitment to the city.”
Neidhamer said his career has proven him to have superior communication and leadership skills in addition to his experience and incite on the inner workings of the city.
He said communication among local officials is what has helped propel Boyne City to the forefront economically and aesthetically.
“The trick is to do more with less,” Neidhamer said. “We can’t set back on our successes. We have to keep improving and going in a positive direction, and that gets harder as the bar is raised.”
The four men will vie for the three commission seats which will be staggered.
Towne filed for a two-year term; the other three candidates filed for four-year terms.
Once the election has taken place, the new city commission will vote to decide which commissioners become mayor and mayor pro-tem.
Vondra said he is stepping down due to personal reasons.
“The kids are busier in activities and it’s to the point where I am helping a lot with that, and sports and my work keeps me busy,” he said. “Something’s got to give and it’s that.”
Vondra, who serves as Charlevoix County Undersheriff, has been with the office since 1995, but in law enforcement since 1991.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the decision-making process to make Boyne City better,” he said. “I’m leaving it in capable hands and the city is in good shape financially and physically – I just have other commitments.”
Boyne City DDA/Main Street Director Hugh Conklin said Vondra has done a great job over the years.
“I think he provided great leadership to the community, and the effort he put forth and sacrifice of his own time … he has been an outstanding public servant,” he said. “Under his leadership the the commission has made huge strides in recent years and we’re starting to reap the benefits of that.”
Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann agreed that Vondra has been integral to Boyne’s successes.
“He did a terrific job,” Baumann said. “He and Mike Cain (Boyne City Manager) were the ones that made it happen with bringing Precision Edge in from Sault Ste. Marie.”
He added, “We’re going to miss him.”
Baumann said, of Cummings, while he did not always agree with him, he is thankful for his years of service.
“I think Mike’s value as a commissioner is that he asked a lot of tough questions, and you need people like that,” Baumann said.
Boyne City Commissioner Mike Cummings did not return calls by press time.