Three candidates vie for Hancock’s third-ward votes
Three candidates, John Slivon, Kurt Rickard, and Tim Givens, are running to fill the third-ward seat on Hancock’s city council for the next four years. As a city councilor, they work with the other council members to draft and pass city laws and ordinances, manage the city budget, determine city taxes and generally represent the city.
Kurt A. Rickard
Kurt Rickard, 68, did not grow up locally, but he has grown fond of the area and decided to spend his retirement here.
“I’m originally from Niagara Falls, in New York,” Rickard said.
He talked to a Michigan Technological University recruiter his senior year of high school, and ended up coming to Houghton to attend. He graduated in 1975, but not before marrying his wife, who is from Houghton, and having her give birth to their first child. He left the area after graduation to work for Shell Chemical, but he still had in-laws in the area.
“So we used to come back up to Houghton regularly, of course, till they passed away in the 90s,” Rickard said.
He went back to school and earned his doctorate from Purdue University in 1982, and eventually retired from LyondellBasell in 2018. During that time Rickard and his wife had three more kids.
“We have seven grandchildren so far,” he said.
They bought their current house in Hancock in 2015, and have been living there since 2018. They’re in the process of building a new house for themselves on Jasper Street, which is also within the third ward.
Since returning to the area, Rickard has been appointed to the Hancock Planning Commission, and started teaching at MTU last fall.
Rickard has prior experience with board and council operation. When living and working in Iowa he was on the city council in the 80s, and a local school board in the early 2000s.
“So I’ve had some experience dealing with the public and the issues that face cities and school districts,” Rickard said. “So I feel like I can make a contribution.”
He said one important thing that needs continued work is the old city ordinances.
“A lot of them haven’t been updated since the 70s,” he said.
He said that in trying to attract new residents and businesses to the city, having the right zoning, services and ordinances is important. Basically, he said, they need to find ways of connecting apartments to restaurants, parks, and other places.
“We’ve got some nice parks,” Rickard said. “But there’s more we can do to enhance livability.”
Regardless of the election’s outcome, Rickard said he intends to keep working with the planning commission, and would run for city council again at the next opportunity.
“I think any one of us will be alright, I think I’ve probably got a little bit more experience and maybe a little more vision of what I think Hancock could look like in the future, if we move in the right direction and update our our ordinances to match our master plan,” he said.
Rickard said the next city council will be facing budget issues, both because of COVID-19, and because of reduced revenue-sharing from other levels of government. He thinks more partnerships with other municipalities for services could help reduce costs, too.
“It doesn’t make sense to me, for every little community in the area to have to duplicate a lot of the same services if we can work together,” he said.
One key to growing Hancock, according to Rickard, is continuing the current work on eliminating blight and building code enforcement.
“That just improves the overall look of the town and then people are gonna be more interested in coming here,” he said.
“I see it as a service to the city,” he said. “And if people want to take me up on it, that’s great.”
Tim Givens’ name will not be appearing on the ballot, but he’d like city residents to consider him as a write-in candidate.
“By the time I decided I wanted to run, it was past the date to get on the ballot,” Givens said.
He knew it was still possible to run as a write-in, and decided to make the attempt.
Givens grew up in Hancock, graduating from high school in 1995. He went on to Northern Michigan University and earned a degree in public relations with a speech minor. He did some work, but when his twin daughters, now in eighth grade, were born, he decided to be a stay-at-home dad.
“Right now I do a little cleaning part time for a local company but most of my time is spent at home,” Givens said.
His favorite hobby is following sports, both professional teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with his daughters’ teams during the school year.
Givens said that he decided to run because he has been frustrated with some decisions are made by the current city council. Specifically, he cited the bidding process on government jobs and the selection and contract of the new city manager.
Givens’ brother, Barry, was city manager until his death in March of this year.
Givens said that even if he does not get elected, he wants to encourage people to speak up to their local government, or get involved themselves.
Givens said that being a life-long resident of Hancock is something that sets him apart from other candidates.
“Not to say other people that have moved to the area can’t do good things for the city,” he said. “But I think it makes a little bit of a difference when you have someone that has grown up here and has been around.”
Givens said that even if he doesn’t get everyone’s votes, he hopes it encourages them to question their local government, use the Freedom of Information Act to get information they want, and speak out in city council meetings.
“Don’t just think that no matter what you do, the city council’s not gonna take your concerns into consideration,” Givens said.
John Slivon is the incumbent for Ward 3.
He did not return multiple requests from the Gazette for an interview.