Muskegon Mayoral Candidates Make Their Cases At Neighborhood Association Forum

Andrew Trzaska | July 11, 2013

A public forum at Muskegon High School’s auditorium Wednesday Night featured all three mayoral candidates vying for the seat on Election Day.

Current incumbent Steve Gawron only gained the seat one year ago, when former mayor Steve Warmington resigned before his term was up.

The mayoral candidates shared the stage with nine of the eleven people vying for two at-large commission seats.  View coverage of the at-large candidates’ forum here.

Approximately 40 people attended Wednesday’s forum, which was put on by the Neighborhood Associations of Muskegon. It will be followed up by a second “meet the candidates” style event on July 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Muskegon Community College. MCC, MLive, and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will sponsor that event.  After the primary narrows the field down, the same group will hold a third at-large commissioner debate-style event on October 21.

All three mayoral candidates are listed alphabetically by last name:

  • Zawdie Abiade, 60, family counselor and pastor.
  • Stephen J. Gawron, 56, incument mayor, employed by Ottawa County Circuit Court as a pre-sentencing officer.
  • Jeanette Moore, 48, employed as a quality inspector for Dake Corp. in Grand Haven.

Candidates were each allowed three minutes to present their platforms.  Summaries of each candidate’s statements are listed below, including answers to follow-up questions.

Zawdie Abiade:  Dr. Abiade gave an acronym for his platform – SHAD (“Shade”), meaning Safety Health Education Development. He also planned to form a youth council to work on safety, work with the school system to show leadership in and out of the school, and would be present all over the city as mayor in the daytime and nighttime. Abiade is a member of his neighborhood association. He says he blows snow and mows lawns for those who are out of town or unable to do it themselves, and also counsels his neighbors as a family therapist.  He is also an usher at the Frauenthal. If elected, his first priority would be to work with the business community.

To stem the loss of tax base from Brunswick, Sappi and soon the power plant, Abiade said he will work to make Muskegon “a more friendly and hospitable community” to attract new companies, and attract companies with “virtual offices”.

Stephen Gawron: Gawron listed his accomplishments in the last year as mayor, including more “safety initiatives”, the move of the farmers market, continuation of youth programs and new residential development downtown by Jon Rooks.  He also cited his 11 years on the city commission before becoming mayor. Gawron is a founding member of the Nims Neighborhood association, and has been president since 1994.  He also said he has taught conflict resolution in the school district’s elementary schools. Gawron says his first priority in office would be to maintain city services.

Regarding the tax base losses of Sappi, Brunswick and the B.C. Cobb plant, Gawron said the city is doing a good job adapting already and will continue to do so if he remains mayor. As an example of his work, he hinted at a future ribbon cutting of a Grand Rapids company opening up a new facility in Muskegon  He also said the city is “investing as we speak” in using its port more than it does.

Jeannette Moore: “Financial, family and futuristic” are the main points of Moore’s candidacy. Financial concerns including the B.C. Cobb power plant, making Muskegon a place for families to grow and thinking about what’s next for the city are examples she gave on those points. Moore said more positive opportunities and image improvement can help make the city a better place and stop the violence happening in the city. She is not a member of her neighborhood association because of her work schedule, but says she attends meetings sometimes. Moore said her first priority in office would be to make the city “a more positive place.”

Moore said she planned to use tax incentives to help bring more companies to the city, with the goal of bringing in two corporations for every business lost.

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Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst