Write-in creates competition in Bridgman

Bridgman City Hall is pictured March 17, 2018.

BRIDGMAN — A write-in candidate is making it a race for four Bridgman City Council seats in Tuesday’s election.

Former City Clerk Pam Hahaj filed as a write-in candidate, joining the four incumbents whose names will be on the ballot: Sarah Buist, Linda Gedeon-Kuhn, Stacy Stine and Jan D’Agostino Trapani. Terms are four years.

Buist is a lifelong Bridgman resident and 1995 graduate of Bridgman High School. She is married to Joel Buist and they have three children. A nurse for 20 years, Buist has worked in diverse nursing fields and plans to reinstate her massage license to pursue a career in medical and therapeutic massage in the Bridgman/Stevensville area.

Buist said her goal is to bring increased comradery and pride to Bridgman and see more events like Friday Family for local residents to gather and enjoy each other’s company. She supports the city’s youth council as a way to incorporate their opinions into the growth of the area and likes the council’s show of support for the King/Queen Scholarship organization.

“I would like to see our area appeal to younger people, especially families with young children, so our community can continue to grow on a local aspect as well as the larger tourist aspect that we are already appealing to. … My goal is to further bring fun family events into our city and become a place of interest for other communities to look up to,” Buist said.

Hahaj retired as city clerk in 2016 after 27 years as deputy clerk and city clerk. She is a lifelong Bridgman resident and her two children and four grandchildren all live in Bridgman. She said her years with the city have given her an understanding of the importance of the role of a council member in making informed decisions.

“The most important thing to me is keeping our community a place where family, friends and our visitors feel welcome and safe. I want to see our community grow and prosper and still remain our home town,” Hahaj said.

City government is not new to Gedeon-Kuhn, who served 14 years on the City Council, served 15 years as secretary of the city Planning Commission and sat on the Zoning Board of Appeals. While on the council, she helped attain funding for the City Hall clock tower, helped place the Taps Rock at Weko Beach and worked on the creation of the Toth Street Park garden. She has served on the board of the Michigan Municipal League and its Workman’s Comp Board and Elected Officials Academy Board, where she is one of the 92 Level III graduates. She is a member of the Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence that helped fund the Reed Middle School STEM Lab.

A 33-year Bridgman resident, Gedeon-Kuhn is the mother of three sons, a grandmother and a wife.

“I’d like to maintain a balance between the importance of business and the quality of life for the residents of our city, and to see that we continue to support our city services to the highest standards that we can attain. I’d like to maintain WEKO Beach as the jewel of our community,” Gedeon-Kuhn said.

A 1992 graduate of Bridgman High School, Stine went on to graduate from Michigan State University in 1996 and the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1999. She is senior legal counsel for Quality Dining Inc., where she advises on employment, general liability litigation and risk management and supervises the Safety and Security Department.

Stine is on the Zoning Board of Appeals and is a member of the Michiana Area Crime Stoppers. She and her husband Sam, also a Bridgman native, have two children. Stine said one of her goals is to make Bridgman a place to which her children will want to return when they become adults.

“I see a great deal of new and exciting changes happening in our beautiful community and believe I may be able to play a positive role in making sure we balance that valuable growth with the strong and vital small-community feel,” Stine said.

Another Bridgman native, Trapani is a registered nurse employed by Spectrum Health Lakeland as a parish nurse for First Congregational Church of St. Joseph. She recently was elected to the board of the River Valley Senior Center and volunteers for Bridgman community events. After living in California for 14 years, she returned to Bridgman in 1999, where her father was a longtime business owner and city commissioner.

Trapani said she would like to explore joint services with Lake Township, such as fire and police services, water filtration and distribution. She also would like to look at the possibility of increasing development along the Red Arrow Corridor and identifying the need for more lodging establishments to serve visitors during peak tourist season.

“I would like to see a business development plan that would be outside the tourist and hospitality scope. For example, include clean industry and plants and service-oriented businesses that would have employment opportunities year-round for our residents and encourage relocating to Bridgman,” Trapani said.