Rickard, Mckenzie take Hancock council leadership posts
Consolidation of polling places passed
HANCOCK — Hancock’s city council will keep the same leadership for 2024.
Council members unanimously appointed Kurt Rickard as mayor and Lisa McKenzie as mayor pro tem for one-year terms at Wednesday’s meeting. There were no other nominations for the positions.
Rickard was named as mayor in August after former Mayor Paul LaBine resigned from the council to take the Houghton County prosecutor position.
The council also set committee assignments for the coming year. The only change to the list proposed by Rickard came in the Houghton County Recreation Authority, where McKenzie asked to be removed due to a potential conflict of interest. Rick Freeman, Jr. was added to the committee in her place.
Also Wednesday, the council approved the consolidation of polling places in the city. All in-person voting will now be done at the Precinct 3 station in Lakeview Manor. Previously, Precinct 1 voters had gone to City Hall, and Precinct 2 voters at the Hancock Fire Hall. While in-person voters will now come to the same place on Election Day, ward and precinct boundaries will remain the same.
Hancock City Manager Mary Babcock and Clerk Linda Kalinec said the consolidation is a response to the growing percentage of ballots being cast by mail. Constitutional amendments approved by Michigan voters in 2018 allow for mail ballots and no-reason absentee voting.
In Hancock’s last election, 800 voters cast absentee ballots, Babcock said.
An amendment approved by voters in 2022 also creates a permanent absentee voter list, which will allow voters to enroll to have ballots mailed to them automatically.
Another amendment approved by voters in 2022 allows for in-person early voting for nine days before the election. All Houghton County voters will be able to cast ballots during that time at the Houghton City Hall.
Kalinec said the city would expect to see about 300 in-person voters at the Lakeview Center site.
“That’s what we used to get at each place, at least,” she said.
Kalinec said Lakeview was chosen because it offered the most space of the polling locations, and also offers handicapped accessibility.
The change passed 4-2, with Councilors Rick Freeman, Jr. and Ryan Tanner voting against.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a resolution in support of the Houghton County Land Bank’s application for a blight elimination program grant for the demolition of the former Risto’s Hardware building at 224 Quincy St. The city’s Downtown Development Authority purchased the property in September 2022.
• Approved two OHM proposals for Category B design and contract administration: One for $146,700 on Minnesota Street, and one for $90,000 on North and Prospect streets.
• Approved a 457 MERS plan with an employer match up to 5% for permanent part-time employees over 25 hours a week, full-time transit and full-time permanent seasonal employees.
• Approved a salary adjustment for the police chief, Department of Public Works director and clerk/treasurer totalling $7,505.16. The increase had been recommended by the personnel committee.