The Traverse City commission has a new member. After Commissioner Ross Richardson resigned last month, his colleagues had to pick someone to fill out his term until November of next year. Out of 11 candidates, they picked Michele Howard.
Howard is a librarian at Northwestern Michigan College. She’s done a lot of work in the community – at school PTOs, local ski races and at her church. She's expected to be sworn in Monday night.
City commissioners say they picked Howard because she’s relatively young, at 46, and because she’s a mother. They hope she will bring a different perspective to the commission, as it grapples with the issues facing Traverse City.
Howard says parenting three children requires balance.
“And I think that balancing act is what we really have to do, as commissioners," she says. "We have to balance the needs of the city – long-term needs and short-term needs – and the needs of our citizens.”
Howard says she supports expanding Traverse City’s trail network and loosening restrictions for residents who want to rent out their homes to tourists. She says she voted “no” on Proposal 3, which will require a public vote for any building over 60 feet tall.
“I feel like those decisions are supposed to be before the zoning board and the planning commission," she says. "I’m not terribly for or against the height of the building, but more about the process of it.”
City commissioners have wide-ranging responsibility, including budgeting, zoning and overseeing the city manager.
Howard says she will run for re-election when her term expires next November.