Candidate Questionnaire: John Kish for Three Rivers City Commissioner, First District

John Kish (Courtesy)

The following is Watershed Voice’s candidate questionnaire for November’s contested Three Rivers City Commission races. We will run all completed questionnaires in the order they’re received prior to Election Day. John Kish filled out our questionnaire, these are his answers.

Editor’s note: The formatting and content of this questionnaire are presented as they were submitted. John Kish is challenging incumbent First District City Commissioner Pat Dane.

Name: John Kish

Age: 67

Party affiliation: N/A

Are you an incumbent? No

Family (optional): 


I moved to Three Rivers in November of 2015 and have been serving as chair of the planning and zoning commission for seven years. In my professional life I gravitate towards jobs where I can solve problems out in the field. Whether as a Technician with Pepsi or Training and Development with biomedical companies I’m out there working with people.

Have you previously held public office, or served in a public leadership role? If so, what is your experience, and what are some of your accomplishments?

I have not run in an election before but I was appointed to the planning and zoning commission by the City Commission, which I now hope to serve on. During my time on the commission we have produced a 10 year master plan and are actively working on the five year update. We were able to include lots of voices during our public hearing. If I recall correctly, it was standing room only! We’ve done a lot of administrative work to streamline city processes for businesses but our most visible accomplishment has been approving development of our budding marijuana industry. 

How long have you lived in the area you are seeking to represent?

Almost eight years. 

Many residents have expressed concern over the water in the city. How will you address Three Rivers’ water quality and cost issues as a commissioner?

I’d first like to acknowledge how many different parts of our city and county have to come together to make these changes happen. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to tackle this challenge head on. Since our city has been collecting revenue from marijuana taxes it has not been allocated toward any budget line. I will move for this money to be allocated towards addressing our water crisis. While we do that it’s critical we continue searching for outside funding from state and federal programs as well as grants. It’s my mission to remove the burden on residents by using these internal and external revenue sources to remove the surcharge on your water bill that you’ve been paying for a couple of years now. 

Affordable housing has been identified as a concern in Three Rivers. How will you plan to address the lack of affordable housing in the community as a commissioner?  

As commissioner, I will work directly with the City Manager to hold him and his team accountable for executing on the growth plan that the city adopted in its 2040 Master Plan. Our city’s needs are as diverse as its residents and that creates many challenges. Affordable housing means different things to different people. Some of our young people want to move out and get their first apartment and other residents are ready to start a family and own their first home. I believe our city has the tools and vision to be successful but not the leadership to attract developers.

Recent conversation has highlighted the needs of the unhoused population in the community. How will you plan to address those needs as a commissioner?

Because our town is so small we lack some critical resources to provide the individualized attention this problem necessitates. I plan to review the training and SOP of code enforcement to ensure they’re directing folks to what’s available; however I do not plan on introducing any new programs at this time. I believe our best path forward is to continue pursuing grants and state funding to ensure our unhoused population can access what is already available to them. 

Other than the above, what other issues do you believe are important to address in the Three Rivers community? What measures will you pursue to address those issues?

We need a renewed focus on economic development in our busiest corridors. Downtown has several storefronts vacant and the apartments upstairs are run down and unlivable. Michigan Ave still has the family video sign up. What is it going to take for places like that to get filled with vibrant businesses? Our city is missing out on local success stories. 

Why did you choose to run for the position that you did?

I believe in making things better than how I found them and I want Three Rivers to be one of those things. 

How will you know that you are accurately representing your community?

I’ll know I’m doing my job when people start complaining. When people see that I’m solving problems and trust me enough to tell me what else is going on, to ask for more help, that’s when I know I’m doing a good job. 

Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?

As your neighbor, I’m asking for your participation in making our city a better place for our children and grandchildren. It’s our town, and it’s our responsibility to take care of it. Get out and vote on November 7th.