Boyne City Commission candidates to speak at forum

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Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

The six candidates each vying for one of two Boyne City Commission seats have been invited to publicly answer a series of questions on Monday July 13 at the Boyne District Library.

The candidate forum—sponsored by the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce—will offer those running an opportunity to show why they are the best candidate, leading up to the Tuesday Aug. 4 primary election.

Incumbents Tom Neidhamer and Derek Gaylord, along with challengers Leslie Neilson, Gary Mellon, Eric Frykberg and Hugh Conklin, have been invited to the event which begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Aug. 4 primary election will determine which four candidates will run in the Nov. 3 general election.

Ultimately, two people will be elected or re-elected to the city commission in November.

Following is a recap of an article focusing on the Boyne City Commission candidates.

Tom Neidhamer

Tom Neidhamer has held his position as city commissioner for three-and-a-half years, and he said he wants to continue as commissioner because of the improvements made during his time as commissioner.

Neidhamer listed numerous accomplishments he and the commission have made over the last few years: the shopping dock, additions to police, ambulance and fire vehicles, the Trail Town designation, and non-motorized trail efforts in addition to the new dog park.

“I think we have a very successful community,” Neidhamer said. “I want to continue taking Boyne City in a progressive direction.”

He added, “I have the time and passion to make Boyne City a better place.”

A retired teacher and coach, Neidhamer currently serves on the committee for the Boyne Valley trail-way as well as the Boyne City Planning Commission.

“I think my experience over the past four years and my communication skills, through being a teacher, has made me a good communicator,” he said. “My leadership skills help me do better as a commissioner.”

Derek Gaylord

Derek Gaylord is currently serving his first term on the city commission and has decided to run again in hopes to stay on the commission.

Gaylord works as the jail administrator for the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office and said he is running with the same agenda he came in with during his first race; to represent the citizens of Boyne City.

“I am honored for the opportunity to continue to represent Boyne City,” he said. “That’s the main reason I’m running again.”

He told the Gazette, citizens’ comments included appreciation that Gaylord asks questions and presents the commission with topics that citizens are most concerned about.

“I think that’s one of my biggest strong points, is there’s always something beyond just face value,” said Gaylord. “And I try to get all the information on all the sides to best make that decision.”

Gaylord will be running against five other candidates for one of two positions open on the City Commission, along with the other incumbent, Tom Neidhamer.

“I’m looking forward to the ability to represent Boyne City, my home,” he said. “I love this town and I’m just honored at the opportunity and I will continue to represent them with the best of my ability.”

Hugh Conklin

“I’m running because I think I have a lot to offer the community,” said Hugh Conklin, former Main Street Program Director. “I understand the community, I know the community and I understand the issues.”

He added, “I think I’m a good team player and I can bring a lot of creativity to problem-solving.”

Conklin is retired but volunteers as a mediator for Northern Community Meditation, as well as working with Challenge Mountain and Unity Hall.

“I think I have a lot to offer but there’s a lot of good interested people who I think have the community’s best interest at heart,” he said…. “I’ve been involved with the community for a long time—we raised our family here and I think I could bring good energy and a cooperative feeling to the situation.”

Conklin said he has no specific agenda coming into the race.

“The respect I have for the community is motivating me to do this,” he said. “And, what the issues are today may be more different than what they are after November’s election.”

Gary Mellon

Gary Mellon, an optometrist of 37 years, sold his practice and now works in real estate. He also has served on the school board and airport committee.

“I’m willing to learn. There’s a lot that’s going on with the planning commission and things that I need to get up-to-speed on,” Mellon said. “Just because you’re elected, there’s a learning curve I think, for anybody, so I’m willing to put that in—I’m willing to learn and listen to people.”

Mellon has a wife, and two children who live in Boyne, where he has lived for 41 years.

“My first order of business would be to find out where everybody’s at,” he said… “My first order of business is to be educated.”

Mellon is not running with an agenda because he plans to observe and learn the processes of the commission.

Erik Frykberg

Erik Frykberg, owner of the Boyne Avenue Greenhouse, is also in this race.

And, after living in Boyne for 31 years, he believes he has the city’s best interest at heart.

Frykberg’s father used to be the city manager, and feels he has seen a lot of the inner workings of politics in Boyne.

“I want to make a difference in this town,” he said. “I love this town, have lived here my whole life, and think it’s time to get some younger blood in there.”

Frykberg said his family is supportive of his candidacy.

“I’m young, not afraid, and know how to voice my opinion,” he said…. “I want to show that young minds can make a difference, and people who set their minds to something can make a difference.”

Frykberg will listen to the public’s opinions and will address all issues presented to him if he is elected as commissioner.

Leslie Neilson

“I decided to run this year because I don’t feel my voice is being heard or taken seriously by our current commissioners,” Neilson said. “As a business owner, I speak to many local people on a regular basis who feel the same way. I feel a few of our current commissioners, although residents of the city, are out of touch with what is going on in Boyne City on a daily basis.”

Neilson moved to Boyne City in 2000, she has opened her store Inspired Living since then and she recently opened the Balanced Living Yoga and Fusion in 2013.

“I chose Boyne City as my home because I thought it would be a great place to live and raise a family, and it is,” she said. “I am not willing to sell out my community to the highest bidder even if it would result in higher sales at my store. Some things in life are more important than the almighty dollar.”

Neilson said she feels the city commission votes on projects that often affect downtown businesses; as a business owner she told the Gazette she feels qualified in that area. She has also worked as a scientist and consultant in waste water treatment.

“I think the city needs someone on the commission who is looking out, not only for our community, but also our environment,” she said. “And has the knowledge and interest in protecting our most precious asset—our water.”

Neilson said she doesn’t have a first order of business, but does not completely agree with some developments that are currently being made in Boyne.

“As a person who is deeply concerned about our environment, a business owner and resident of Boyne City, my ultimate goal will be to provide input based on my education,” said Neilson. “And to help guide the smart growth of Boyne City in such a way, as to achieve slow sustainable growth with minimal impact on our environment.”