Principled Leadership in Potterville, MI


Nicole Wagner

The City of Potterville made news in recent months with incinerating litigation over fire and EMS policies. Now that the litigation is withdrawn, a new era is emerging out of the political smoke and rubble.

A new city council has formed with officers dedicated to putting principled leadership ahead of politics. At their first meeting of the year, the Council welcomed four new members: Duston Twichell, Bruce Kring, and Jennifer Lenneman. All won their seats in a landslide write-in election this past November and officially took office on January 2nd. To fill a vacant seat, the council held a special appointment during the January meeting. A retired Air Force veteran and local business owner, Rebeckajo Lewis, won the seat.

The new council members bring with them a dynamic vision dedicated to community service, increased governmental transparency, and healing divisions with neighboring communities. Two of the four also serve local communities as paramedics and firefighters. Three served in the armed services and now own businesses. All the incoming council members have dedicated their lives to serving their community and investing in the City. The principles that guide them call for restoring faith between City Hall and the citizenry, with the end goal, as Member Twichell articulated, being fixing “the rift in our community.”[1]

A new mayor was also elected in a 4-3 vote at the January 25 meeting. Member Jeff Bussard nominated Katherine Schmidt for the position, saying “She has opened my eyes and given me a new attitude toward it (council), and that’s why I’m putting her up there.” [2] Most people know Katherine by her passion for community; we see her at charitable events, historical festivals, Christian gatherings, and art fairs. She is also known for her entrepreneurial ventures and her decade long career as an educator, which inform her decision making on a practical level. Today, as she embraces her new responsibilities as the mayor of Potterville, her life experiences empower her to carry the perspectives of families, small business, large businesses, and citizens of all walks of life as she works together with the council to deliver solutions that will benefit all. This, in parallel with the values of her faith, provides insight for her as she dedicates herself to public service. As central to her mission, she shares a sacred verse found in Micah 6: 8 which asks, “What does God require of you, O man but that you should seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” She emphasizes that as a leader, she is there to honor God as she serves the citizenry.

Mayor Schmidt and Council believe unity and healing for the community are possible even in the wake of recent conflict. They presented themselves as one body dedicated to transforming the aftermath of litigation, involving the Potterville schools, Benton Township and Eaton County Dispatch, into beautiful new unity based upon the common good. For, just as conflict in government is unavoidable, so reconciliation is inevitable among neighbors and citizens whose most important interests will always be shared in common.

The most immediate of these interests are identified by Mayor Schmidt as “increasing transparency and accessibility at City Hall, upholding standards of good governance, healing division in the community, and providing first rate energy services.” These shared goals ultimately contribute to what everyone seeks:  liberty, harmony, a strong economy, justice, representative government, and the very best for all Potterville’s families and children.

There is a new dawn rising in Potterville, and with principled leadership, the future is bright indeed.

[1] Duston Twichell quoted in Droscha, A. (2018, February 2) Potterville city council: appointments, lawsuits, and accusations.

[2] Jeff Bussard quoted in Droscha, A. (2018, February 2) Potterville city council: appointments, lawsuits, and accusations.

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Nicole Wagner

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