JACKSON, Mich. — Laura Dwyer-Schlecte is no stranger to Jackson’s city politics. She was on city council from 2011-2015 and then re-elected in 2019. Now, she’s ready to move into a “bigger role.
“I’m good at listening to people, connecting the dots, and getting people connected with those that can help move them forward in whatever project it is they’re working on so, I'd like to be able to do that on a higher level,” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
The lifelong Jackson resident who owns Thinking Real Estate, a real estate brokerage firm, is focused on several items including fixing the roads and the city’s infrastructure. Something that will become a high priority as Jackson will look to start replacing their lead lines in 2022.
“I’d like to see a list in order of the roads that need to be repaired. Which ones are the worst all the way down to the best and the same thing with the water lines and sewer lines underneath and put in a rough idea of when these roads are going to get done so we can let the people, let our taxpayers knows that we are doing stuff with our roads and our infrastructures, that we do have a plan, and here’s when we’ll get to your street roughly,” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
Infrastructure is something she is familiar with during her time on city council
as she is most proud of her work of "opening up" downtown Jackson.
"I'm really proud of the two-way conversion of the Glick-Washington Street loop around downtown," Dwyer-Schlecte said. "That was one of my babies. I also worked with MDOT to help make sure that our bridges out at the highway are decorative and appealing so that will help attract people into the city."
The pandemic has also cost the city of Jackson millions of dollars in lost tax revenue as employees have been working from home. The latest COVID relief bill will give Jackson $31 million over two years to try to compensate for lost money. With many businesses still keeping their employees home to work, Dwyer-Schlecte wants to make sure the money is being spent in the right ways.
“That’s like winning the lottery. We have to plan accordingly. We can’t just spend this money willy nilly. It has to be spent on items that were a direct result of losing money because of the pandemic,” Dwyer-Schlecte said. “I want to see the plan for that to make sure we’re utilizing that money over the next two years in the highest capacity that we can,” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
She considers herself “fiscally responsible,” and wants Jackson to continue the economic growth the city has seen recently while focusing on growing the eastern side of Jackson near the Michigan Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Road corridor.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the last three years. We’ve seen over 100 million dollars invested into our city, downtown, and in our main corridors. Making sure the economic development keeps going.” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
She also wants to be able to work hand-in-hand with city council members to be able to help them solve problems that come up in each of the six wards.
“I’d like to build a policy where staff can work off of and have some meetings that way where the council gets together and establishes what we want to see jointly as a council. Each ward is going to have their own issues. As a whole, it would be best to have a goal-setting meeting to establish these policies,” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
Safety is another item on her agenda that she would like to look at along with the city police department.
“As we get our streets done that automatically makes our neighborhoods a little bit safer because people will be out and about. The more we get people out and about that better it is. I want to get with police officers to find out what their ideas are to make our community safer,” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
Earlier this year, Mayor Derek Dobies touted in his state of the city address that city crime overall was at its lowest point in 30 years.
She believes she is qualified to become Jackson’s next mayor due to her life experiences.
“I can walk next to a lot of people’s footprints. I can’t walk in anybody’s else's shoes, but I can walk side-by-side and understand what they’re going through. I have a lot of different hats I can wear and have experienced a lot,” Dwyer-Schlecte said.
But, what is going to separate her from the previous administration?
"Each ward is going to have their own issues," Dwyer-Schlecte said. "So, I think in the council as a whole we can, it would be best if we kind of had a goal-setting meeting to establish those policies. We did that last time I was on council and it was great. It gave staff direction and I almost feel like there is no direction right now and I feel like that would be helpful. But, first I want to focus on fiscal responsibility because if we're tight on the money we have we can provide the services that our constituents want."
Laura Dwyer-Schlecte is one of four candidates putting their names on the August ballot for Jackson mayor after Derek Dobies announced he would not run for a third term. Daniel Mahoney, Jeromy Alexander, and John Wilson are the other three people looking to advance to the November general election. The top two vote-getters in August will go up against each other on the November ballot to become Jackson’s next mayor.
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