LAKE CITY — Lake City mayoral candidate Tom Behrendt, a local entrepreneur and employee at VanPolen Dairy Farm, believes it’s time for a change in city government and he believes he is the person who can bring the kind of change that is needed.
“It’s time to play to the strengths we see around us every day and remember the traditions that have made Lake City stand out,‘ Behrendt said in a weekend interview.
“I’m running for mayor because it’s time for a change.‘
Behrendt is challenging incumbent mayor Brad Seger, who is seeking his fourth two-year term in the election on Tuesday. Behrendt, in contrast, presents himself to voters as the candidate of change who can infuse fresh ideas about ways to move the city forward while at the same time maintaining the traditions that have made the city what it is.
Behrendt owns and operates a local honey business, Morton Apiaries, with wife Sherri that provides a long line of honey products including candles, wax and honey sticks in addition to jars of honey. He and Sherri, who can trace several generations of her side of the family, the Mortons, to the McBain area, have always loved spending time in Lake City and it was the realization of a dream when they finally were able to make their home here. The couple have been living in Lake City for about 10 years.
Behrendt is seeking to bring what he believes will be positive change to the city through the route of public service. Behrendt, who was born in the Lansing area and attended Waverly High School, has a varied background and believes he can put that background and experience to use in the role of mayor. He owns a bachelor’s degree in physical education and recreation from Olivet College and is a certified journeyman lineman. He served as an electric operations manager in Alaska for four years prior to moving to Lake City.
When Behrendt is not operating the honey business with Sherri, with whom he has been married 13 years, he is usually busy doing various tasks at the dairy farm or he’s out hunting or fishing or, in the summer time, boating on Lake Missaukee. He has a great passion for the outdoors and sees the year-round access to the outdoors and particularly to Lake Missaukee as one of the great natural assets of Lake City and also one of the great attractions for tourists and potential tourists. He and Sherri are also active members of the Lake City Eagles Club.
Behrendt believes the time has come to break away from the status quo in Lake City.
“Our city has unique and special challenges and I am a firm believer that my background can provide a new, fresh perspective to the opportunities facing our community,‘ he said.
“I’d like to partner with you in this position and together we can find a path for success.‘
Behrendt emphasizes that “change‘ is more than just a word to him.
“I truly believe our community can benefit from a new look at the opportunities we have,‘ he said.
“For too long we’ve seen inactivity and taking the easier way out,‘ he added. “I believe the time is right for a fresh approach and I know I can provide that as your new mayor.‘
Seger runs for fourth term as LC mayor
LAKE CITY – Brad Seger is seeking his fourth two-year term serving as the mayor of Lake City. Seger was first appointed as mayor in February of 2013 after then-mayor Les Rackov passed away suddenly. He was elected by city voters the first time in 2013 after completing Rackov’s original term and ran unopposed in 2015 and 2017.
This year, Seger is opposed by Thomas Behrendt. Voters will choose between the two on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
“It’s been a great honor to serve the people of Lake City,” said Seger, 58, who was born and raised in the city, the son of the late Dr. Dean and Gerry Seger. He moved away after graduating from high school and served 30 years at General Motors in Lansing before retiring as a team leader and moving back up to Lake City in 2011. He and wife Danielle have three school-age children: Bradley, Josie and Addison.
Friends encouraged Seger to run for the city council after he returned north but he rebuffed those advances at first.
“Then Les Rackov stopped by and he talked to me about being part of the council and Les was pretty persuasive,” Seger recalled. “I told him OK.”
Seger first served on the council after being appointed in June of 2012 to replace Bill Woodward, who had served admirably in that role before stepping aside, and then Seger was appointed mayor eight months later after Rackov suddenly died.
“It was scary in the beginning,” Seger acknowledged.
“I think the one thing that has helped me as mayor is that I genuinely like people and strive to get along well with everyone.
“I’m also very mindful of the people’s money. It’s something I take seriously. I’ve always believed in an efficient government and a limited government. If it’s taxpayers’ money then we need to be prudent with it. That’s our responsibility to the people.”
Seger is pleased that Lake City generates high grades from its annual audit each June from the accounting firm of Baird, Cotter and Bishop. Certified Public Accountant Scott A. Hunter reviews the audit with the council during its July meeting.
“The day I feel the best about being mayor is when Scott (Hunter) gives us the audit report,” Seger said.
“It confirms that the city is not just financially sound but following good fiscal policies. I credit the council and I credit (Department of Public Works Director) Ray Vasser for that. Ray is a great fiscal manager and he saves the city more money than people will probably ever know.”
Seger views his mayoral role as being a “facilitator.”
“I’m there to help and make the decisions easier,” he said.
Seger said his experience as a team leader with GM, working with people from a variety of backgrounds to achieve a common goal, is invaluable for him as mayor.
“I call on that experience a lot,” Seger said. “I don’t like the term politician but I think as mayor it’s important to understand the big picture and to seek to implement the things that will benefit the city in the long run.”
Seger said he’s very pleased with the addition of the Forest Area Credit Union on Main Street and the recently announced $2 million construction project at the McDonald’s intersection raising up the future home of the Lake City Family Pharmacy and Lake City Primary Care.
He would like to see the city seriously consider taking the necessary steps to start another Downtown Development Authority. The DDA that was disbanded last year benefited the city greatly during its years of service, being responsible for things such as the new boardwalk and the permanent city dock.
Seger also invites the public to come to the council meetings in the city office on the second Monday of each month.
“The government is by the people and for the people,” Seger said.
“We’d love to see more people come and tell us if we’re doing a good job or not.”