By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
The Albion City Council has gone through a major face-lift, and residents now can see if positive restructuring to their city and schools will follow.
Joe Domingo is back in the mayor’s seat after a Tuesday victory over Bill Wheaton, but on Dec. 6 his fellow council members will look vastly different.
Council veterans Ron Gant and Betty Branche will be replaced by Albion Inn groundskeeper Maurice Barnes Jr. and local kindergarten teacher Lenn Reid in precincts 1 and 2.
Replacing George Strander, who stepped down from his Precinct 6 seat, is Albion College chemistry professor Andrew French.
Coupled with the addition of 23-year-old Albion High School graduate Garrett Brown, who was appointed to the 3rd Precinct seat when Thorland Bradley moved away, council has a whole new look.
The city faces a $210,000 budget shortfall for 2011 and Albion High School is on the state’s list of Persistently Low Achieving Schools. But Domingo said he expects progress to come quicker than ever with such a diverse set of council members.
“With a recent graduate, a professor and public school employee, I think we are able to really understand and address the community’s needs in a more comprehensive way,” he said. “Sure it will take some time for them to get up to speed, but once the budget is out of the way here pretty soon I imagine you’ll see them very comfortable in their roles in the next three to four months.”
He said the newcomers are “not followers but leaders” and they have been community-minded individuals who regularly attended council meetings in the past.
French said he hopes to utilize his experience on budget and resource committees at the college to help make fiscally sound decisions.
“Essentially we’ve got two pots of money — the pot we spend on people and the pot we spend on things,” he said. “I met with (city manager) Mike (Herman), and we talked about equipment for the police force and upgrades of cruisers and trucks and things. Those are all sorts of issues that are on the ‘things side’ that we’ll just have to look into.”
French said Domingo “has made great strides in the recent past” but he’s also willing to listen closely to Herman and Wheaton, a former mayor, when it comes to figuring out what’s best for the city.