Watershed Voice sent out questionnaires to the three candidates running for Mayor of Three Rivers. In the days leading up to Election Day (Tuesday, August 8), Watershed will publish the answers it has received. Natelege Zaritz filled out our questionnaire, these are her answers.
Editor’s note: The formatting and content of this questionnaire are presented as they were submitted. Natelege Zaritz is running against fellow challenger Vernis Mims Jr., and incumbent Tom Lowry in the race for mayor in the City of Three Rivers.
Name: Natelege Zaritz
Party Affiliation: N/A
Are you an incumbent? NO
Have you previously held public office, or have you served in a public leadership role? If so, what is your experience, and what are some of your accomplishments?
I have never held public office.
How long have you lived in the area you are seeking to represent?
I have lived in Three Rivers approximately nine years.
In your opinion, what are the three most important issues to the area you are seeking to represent and its constituents, and why?
In my opinion the three most important issues to the Three Rivers area and its constituents are needed ongoing improvements to Infrastructure, needed funding for increased Public Safety, and a lack of Housing Affordability and Availability, which negatively impacts the Marketability of Three Rivers to Residents and Investors.
Three Rivers Infrastructure is in bad shape. We have issues with our roads, parking lots, water, and water waste management. The current state of our roads and parking lots are costing drivers in persistent car repairs and businesses in a reduced flow of patronage and frustrated customers. For Three Rivers, road repairs and waterline repairs are coupled together and must be performed simultaneously in order to reduce costs and avoid redundancy in repairs. The City has agreed to work with Fleis and Vanderbrink, and as I understand it, they are preparing a project plan in order to apply for a loan through the Michigan Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The plan is to get funding to begin work on 336 out of 1100 Lead Service Lines in need of repairs.
The Public Safety issues that I think need to continue to be addressed are more funding for the Police and Fire Departments along with more funds for Citywide Emergency Readiness. Our Police and Fire Department need more Public Safety Funds that will go to increases in salary, equipment, training, wellness and recruitment. Alongside that, more revenue needs to be generated and allocated toward a Citywide Emergency Readiness Fund. The recent sewage spill early this month are a testimony to that fact. Wastewater Superintendent, Taylor Davis, responded well to the 500,000 gallon spill. It would have been nice if we had more funds and more workers available to remedy the disaster that this spill has caused for some residents. It’s safe to assume that there will be more unforeseen incidents and inconveniences for residents in the future due to aging infrastructure issues.
Housing Availability and Affordability is currently a Nationwide issue that has negatively impacted the Three Rivers Economy and Residents. Due in part to the previously mentioned issues, the Three Rivers Housing Market has also been negatively impacted by 2020-2021 Lockdowns, seeing many people unable to pay their rents and mortgages and purchase a home. It must be noted that new businesses and new Housing Development is coming down the pipeline. It must also be noted that Three Rivers was designated an Opportunity Zone by the Trump Administration and is partly responsible for the increase in New Business Development taking place in Three Rivers. On one hand this drives up the Market Value on Residential Property making it difficult for Three Rivers residents to own and rent in the community that they were raised in and on the other hand it brings in more job opportunities and tax revenue for the City. We are in need of a Housing Development boom that can remain in lockstep with business growth or we will see residents priced out and replaced by Americans who are migrating from big cities in search of a slower pace and a relatively lower cost of living. I think that the City needs to be working hard to improve the marketability of Three Rivers to current residents and business owners as well as investors. According to the Three Rivers Financial Report of 2021-2022 the Industrial and Commercial Economy makes up 57% of the taxable valuation for that year while the Residential Economy makes up for the remainder of 43%. The City owes it to taxpayers to put them first. To increase business growth and retention as it relates to population growth and retention through better Housing and Ownership opportunities for Residents.
What measures will you pursue to address those issues?
My goal is to generate more revenue and citizen support and participation in City Projects and City Government. I would like to see more economic development outreach and opportunities in Three Rivers with a focus on teaching Financial Literacy, Basic Civics, Business Building, Real Estate Ownership and Investing. I plan on continuing the Great Work of the current and past Mayors and Commissions and future Elected and appointed Officials and City Workers. I am currently a member of the Planning Commission where I am becoming closely acquainted with the City’s Master Plan and the Capital Improvement Plans for the City. I will adhere to the Greater Vision for the growth of Three Rivers and utilize Innovative Financial Techniques and Tools to leverage additional funding and resources.
Why did you choose to run for the position that you did?
Two very special children in my life told me that I needed to become the Mayor. I have been following National Politics since 2017. I have done research and engaged with hundreds of American Citizens regarding their views and vision for the present state and future of America. I learned how vital local government is to the well being of a community and an entire Nation. I also learned about Fiscal Devolution and how it runs side by side with a Mayoral Election. The spontaneous encouragement from the innocent and hopeful minds of my daughter and my friends’ son prompted me to decide to serve my community. I see it as an extension of my service to my children and the children in my community and a continuation of my passion for providing services that improve my quality of life and the lives of my fellow Americans.
What would you say is your leadership style, and how will you utilize its strengths in your position?
My leadership style as Mayor will involve taking responsibility for the management of city agencies and departments while persistently improving the quality of life for Three Residents, Businesses and Workers. I will listen to what everyone has to say and ultimately make decisions for the good of the whole while upholding the Constitution of the United States and Michigan. I will lead by example and place a spotlight on the ability of a Unified Citizenry and Government to collectively shape and grow their own future. As American Citizens we share a rich history and we have inherited the bounty produced by the hard work and sacrifices of Americans that have come before us.
How will you know that you’re accurately representing your community?
I will know that I am accurately representing my community by adhering to the Master Plan for the City, upholding the Constitutions, listening to Three Rivers Citizens, and delivering on my promise to put Three Rivers Citizens First! When I see more citizens gainfully employed, securely housed, financially empowered and prospering I will have done my job.
Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?
The most important thing that Three Rivers Citizens should know about me is that first, I am a Mother. That title is more important to me than my own name and my last name is what I work for. My Children are the most important thing in all of existence to me and as I build a better world and commit to being a good steward of the Earth, its all for them. I believe in shaping a future for the Children. They are to be nurtured and their innocence preserved and protected and given the tools to succeed in life.