Mayoral candidate hopes to improve downtown areaPublished 6:18pm Tuesday, September 24, 2013
A former city council member intends to work with the young people of Dowagiac in order to modernize the downtown area, if elected.
Junior Oliver, formerly an ergonomic consultant with Sealed Power Corporation, has lived in Dowagiac for 65 years, the majority of his life, and feels the atmosphere of the city of Dowagiac has changed substantially during his time there.
“There’s nothing in our downtown area right now that young people are interested in, except the pizza shop,” Oliver said. “If [young people] are downtown, we know where they’re at, and that they’re not out creating mischief.”
Oliver mentioned the handful of empty buildings located in the downtown area, and suggested filling those buildings with a pool hall where there would be no alcohol served, or a video arcade.
Oliver said he has already spoken with several younger people, and has even solicited the help of students at Southwestern Michigan College.
“I would be using the business group from the college, who said it’s a great thing. We would set up some grant searches and loan searches to do it,” he said.
“My main reason for running for mayor is that I have a different outlet for what the city needs to be. I just feel that with the help of the young people that I can bring some enthusiasm back that used to be there when I was there.”
In a letter announcing his mayoral candidacy, Oliver wrote that his “vision for the city is to rejuvenate the city by bringing new ideas of renovating some of the downtown and changing some of it to a more modern theme that our young adults would be proud of.”
On the city’s webpage, Mayor Donald Lyons welcomes visitors of the Dowagiac area stating, “I’m sure that you’ll be impressed with [Dowagiac’s] Victorian charm, embodied by our vibrant and alive downtown and our many fine and stately older homes as well as our commitment to the exciting promises of the 21st Century.”
Oliver argues that the downtown is not as modernized as it could be.
“Part of it is the attitudes of present leadership. They’re happy where it’s at. They’re kind of laid back and not really active in changing it,” he said.
After nearly two years served on Dowagiac’s City Council Ward #1, Oliver chose to resign from the council to take care of his ailing wife, who died 12 days after his resignation.
During his time on the council, Oliver said they “did quite a bit with the street system” and “used a lot of the money that had appropriated for other things to get more of [Dowagiac’s] streets repaired.”
He said that he was vocally opposed to raising utility rates.
“Most people that we were dealing with were getting state aid. I didn’t see how we could do that. I knew we had to have more money to do the things that had to be done. I just couldn’t see taking food or medicine out of our community’s mouths to pay their utility bills,” he said.
Oliver also said he wishes to work with the Council on Aging to provide more activities for seniors, in addition to the activities that the downtown already hosts.
Oliver can be reached by email at email@example.com.