The city recently shot down a proposal to annex three areas. What are your thoughts on annexation? Should the city be promoting growth this way? How will the city pay for the additional costs of that growth? Are there other areas you think could be good to bring into the city?
I attended the annexation decision meeting concerning the three areas. I feel that the council did their research and have made the right decision at this time. Seymour is growing industrially along with small businesses; demographics of space are a concern. Growth is a positive thing. Our schools have been expanding for growth in the community; we have to see where we want to be in five to 10 years from now. The pressures of growth can be felt on several streets in our city. I am sure more discussion on these issues will continue.
The city has been experiencing several years of increasing costs for health insurance because of large claims from employees. The mayor has said drastic measures may have to be taken to help curb the problem. How would you propose the city tackle this issue? Should the city continue to offer health insurance or should employees be responsible for getting their own health care?
Health care insurance is a large expense and a concern for all. Many companies are going to health care clinics that can provide affordable care for their family.
Seymour’s streets are showing the effects of yet another bad winter and many are in desperate need of attention. The city has very limited funding available for road work. Do you believe the city needs to increase the amount of money it spends on road maintenance? How do you propose the city do that? Which roads should be addressed first?
The most heavily traveled streets will most likely need the most repair. I believe the committee will look at each street and determine the priority of each one. As a resident of Seymour, I expect nice streets to drive on whether it is a main street or side street.
How important do you feel it is for Seymour to establish a network of walking and biking trails throughout the city? A lot of time has gone into developing a trails committee and plan, but a lot of money is needed to put the plan in place. How should the trails be funded?
Seymour has numerous people who walk the city sidewalks daily. I believe the sidewalks should be taken care of in the sense that the tree roots that have uplifted the sidewalk slabs, the bushes that grow over the walks, the gravel and debris on the sidewalks make it a hazard for people walking. This is a way of keeping Seymour beautiful.
What should the city be doing to revitalize the downtown and bring businesses to all the empty storefronts along the U.S. 50 corridor? What do you feel the city needs more of?
We need to use the spaces in the city that are sitting empty; the mall east of town, the restaurants that have closed, the gas stations that have shut down, empty lots, even the state police post. The Seymour downtown area is being restored with hopes of seeing more restoration in the near future.
What other projects/issues do you think city officials need to address?
1. Railroad crossing safety gates at all railroad tracks. 2. Maintaining mowed grass around the interstate exits.
Why did you decide to run for city council?
The opportunity of working together in a team effort to benefit the city of Seymour, while understanding the thoughts of residents and applying positive growth to furthering the expansion of Seymour is something I have wanted to do for some time now.
Name: Kurt Newkirk
Profession: Head custodian, Seymour Middle School – 23 years
Background: Born and raised in Rogers City, Michigan, moved to Seymour in 1976
Family: Wife, Dawna; children, Andrea, Emilee and Jacob
Church membership/clubs or organizations: Immanuel Lutheran Church. Served on Board of Elders, Property Board and Snow Removal Committee