Holly Leo for Saugatuck

I love Saugatuck! I never thought I would run for office, you will usually find me behind the scenes. But I am called, energized and motivated to see our City Council become more reflective of this vibrant city. For well over a century, this place has been a destination for artists at heart, nature lovers and entrepreneurs/small business owners with dreams. A place of great tolerance and a strong sense of community. I want to see those roots deepen and thrive.

That means listening to year-round and seasonal residents, as well as all the hard-working, creative people who provide food, bed and commerce to tourists. It means protecting the harbor and ensuring our artistic legacy is intact. As I launch this campaign, I am most interested in hearing about the concerns and issues and ideas that resonate most with you. So let's connect, and let's aim to make a positive impact on our small but mighty city.

Who am I?

Like many Saugatuck residents, I am active in this community and step up when there is a need. I am a 10-year, full-time resident. For over 20 years I have been a renter, a landlord and/or a homeowner in this community. I am a proud parent of a 2018 Saugatuck Public School graduate. I am an Artist with a small business in Advertising. I have been a Saugatuck school volunteer, an Ox-Bow Committee member, organized drives for families in need, organized the Women’s March and have worked on political campaigns. Previously, I was a full-time Volunteer Manager for Hospice of Michigan and hold a Bachelor of Public Administration. I value improving the quality of life, healthy tourism and the artistic legacy of this beautiful town. I also believe public servants should listen carefully and respectfully to both city residents and local business owners.

Platform

In Saugatuck, we ride bikes, we hike, we climb Mt. Baldy’s stairs – we actively enjoy our natural beauty. A bike trail is a public good in and for Saugatuck; it’s good for our cash registers, property values and our health. Over the past 10 years, our neighbors have organized to plan and fund the Blue Star Bike Trail. Doing nothing has a cost and constructive dialogue is needed. And for a lakeside resort community where parking is always an issue in the high season, it’s incumbent upon us to provide healthy transportation options – as well as bike racks.

I would like to see the City of Saugatuck and The Friends of the Blue Star Trail work together more constructively. Citizens volunteering their time and dollars to improve the community need to know that the city will welcome dialogue and facilitate community enhancements whether that means bike trails or pickleball courts. Elected officials in a unique place like Saugatuck need to encourage ideas and solutions from our creative and enterprising community, listen closely, debate respectfully and then act swiftly

Several related issues are testing us now and going forward. The high cost of housing. Tensions between short-term rental landlords and homeowners. Continued high water levels affecting the city’s infrastructure. Sediment build-up and invasive species affecting our ability to enjoy the waterways. We need to ensure tourism--our number one industry-- remains healthy and works in harmony with locals.

To address these issues, we need to move cooperatively and decisively, whether it is to eradicate invasive species, enforce homeowner noise ordinances or address merchant or restaurant issues. In every professional role I have held, including working as a Volunteer Manager and a Producer, my priority has always been to develop productive working relationships by listening closely and respectfully and finding common ground.

In 2018, the City passed a proposal legalizing recreational Marijuana by 391 to 180 votes. A further mail-in survey by the City showed a 50/50 split. The City is currently opting out of offering sales, but state regulations and applications are beginning to take effect which should trigger further consideration.

As state regulations are further defined, I favor allowing the sale of legal marijuana products via a limited, carefully considered retail presence within the city of Saugatuck. Our task would be to communicate to all stakeholders the economic benefit such an offering would bring to the area year-round, not just in the busy summer months, since it would attract more people here. More visitors in the shoulder seasons would greatly benefit our lodging owners, restauranteurs and merchants, many of whom struggle mightily in the off season.

Contribute

I asking for donations to cover the cost of printing some campaign swag and getting my message out. If you would like to help out, please donate through PayPal or you can mail a check to “Holly Leo for City Council” at Box 447, Saugatuck MI 49453. Thank you!