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. Mayor Tom Lowry filled out our questionnaire, these are his answers.
Editor’s note: The formatting and content of this questionnaire are presented as they were submitted. Mayor Tom Lowry is running against challengers Natelege Zaritz and Vernis Mims Jr. in the race for mayor in the City of Three Rivers.
Name: Thomas J. Lowry
Party affiliation: N/A
Are you an incumbent? Yes.
Family: Widowed, with no children. I do have much family from my side and my wife’s.
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 am ending my twelfth term as Mayor. I have been the Mayor from 1995-2007 and from 2011-2023. I was a City Commissioner for almost a year before I became the Mayor. I lost once and intended to re-run in 1999, but my wife became sick again. Choosing not to run allowed me to be with her in her last months, for which i remain eternally grateful.
I have been on numerous boards and commissions over the last 30 years: DDA, Three Rivers Merchants, US 131 Committee, St Joseph County EDC Creation Committee, Three Rivers Area Mentoring, Three Rivers Promise, St Joseph Community Corrections Advisory Board, and others. I have also been very involved in Midwest and the national Bookselling community by serving on many Boards and Committees.
How long have you lived in the area you are seeking to represent?
I moved to Three Rivers in June 1993 in order to open the bookstore. I graduated from Marcellus High School.
In your opinion, what are the three most important issues to the area you are seeking to represent and its constituents, and why?
The three most important issues are:
A. Continuing to provide the services that the citizens want and expect in a professional manner and at an affordable price. This issue is perennial here and everywhere.
B. Try to anticipate how the State legislature and overall business climate will have an impact on our Budget. And then plan accordingly.
C. Try to continue to mend the strained relationships that we have with some elected officials in some of the neighboring townships. We are all neighbors, in the same Zip Code, and we share the same schools: I wish that we could meet at the table with open minds for ALL issues.
What measures will you pursue to address those issues?
A. After we adopt the annual budget, stay on top of it, and knowing that outside forces can change our situation, we not only need to anticipate them, but meet these obstacles quickly and with resolve. We need to always listen to citizens, and change the City’s direction when enough people say so.
B. Remain up on the news in Michigan, and the nation, so as to be the most prepared to address our obstacles. I remain firmly committed that the special tax rates given to the very large retailers and businesses in Michigan, known as the Dark Store Theory, are wrong and illegal. This is because ordinary citizens (i.e. You and I ) are not allowed these special property tax rates. I will continue to fight this. I also believe that we should be looking at how we can increase our City’s revenues and this requires an inquiring and open mind
C. Keep meeting with these officials, find what we have in common, and try to work together. It should not be the City versus Townships.
Why did you choose to run for the position that you did?
I have chosen to run for two reasons. I enjoy this job because I get to meet and talk with so many different people. I believe that we all would agree that we want the best for Three Rivers. My second reason is that by being an elected official, I get to be part of the large team that is doing this.
What would you say is your leadership style, and how will you utilize its strengths in your position?
My leadership style is to be first a listener, and then secondly, to be a servant leader. My actions demonstrate this.
How will you know that you’re accurately representing your community?
By the ultimate measure: if the majority agree with our votes and actions. We should serve to do the “best for the common good”. By this is meant to do what the majority want but also what is best. There are 2 times when it is imperative to consider voting against the majority. For instance, slavery is a despicable horrible system that exited for over 3 centuries in our nation’s past, and I think you all would agree. There are now people in America saying otherwise; I would fight tooth and nail against that talk.
The second time is when reality doesn’t match our expectations. As an example, the last fire engine that we bought cost more than $400,000. Today, after we would wait at least a year for a new one, we would have to pay $2,000,000. That is a five-fold increase. Simply saying that it is wrong and whining loudly is to do a disservice to the voters, as we will have to vote one day to buy our next fire engine and pay that price.
Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?
There are many other issues that we have to address, such as the sewer plant, the Constantine sewer service, etc. and I remain committed to helping solve them. One of my loves, besides this community, are the children here. I have never yet met a child who chose to be born into difficult circumstances, whether it is to be born poor, brown, black, red, or any color, gay, autistic, handicapped, developmentally challenged, or to be subjected to verbal, mental, physical, or sexual abuse…. The list goes on, but my heart goes out to all children and I will fight to help them.