Laura Barlond-Maas elected Olivet mayor for second time
The 2017 City of Olivet mayor election was won by Laura Barlond-Maas on Tuesday, Nov. 7 with 71 percent of the vote over Debra Maxwell. Barlond-Maas had 105 votes compared to Maxwell’s 42 votes.
“People are confident in my ability to lead,” said Barlond-Maas about winning the election. This is Barlond-Maas’ second time serving as mayor. Her first time being mayor was in 2001 for two terms. Every two years Olivet has a mayoral election. This will be the first time since 2010 with a new mayor. Gary Peterson served as mayor from 2011-2017.
Barlond-Maas was sworn into office on Monday, Nov. 3 during a city council meeting at the City Hall in Olivet, only six days after she won the election. City Council meetings are held once a month on the second Monday at 7 p.m.
“I’m thrilled,” said Barlond-Maas about becoming mayor once again. Olivet is a strong mayor government, which means voters elect a mayor and a city council to run departments such as fire, police, finance, and recreation, and to also carry out policy. In a strong mayor government, the mayor has a lot more ability to make decisions rather than in weak mayor or council manager form of government. There are only 10 strong mayor governments currently in Michigan.
Barlond-Maas explained that she doesn’t have a planned set of goals of what she wants to achieve, but instead wants to collaborate and strengthen relationships with residents and other community members to solve long term and everyday problems in Olivet, according to Barlond-Maas.
Some of the main issues that need to be addressed, according to Barlond-Maas, are money and budgeting, as well as figuring out housing options in Olivet. When someone looks to move to Olivet there are not many places to live, which drives those prospective residents to other places in the area like Marshall, Charlotte or Bellevue, according to Barlond-Maas. Barlond-Maas, who is also an associate professor of English at Olivet College, believes that a strong relationship between the city and the college is best for everyone. “My life’s mission is to help people be better, whatever that means for each person, and to help people be better.” said Barlond-Maas. She did note that her responsibilities with the college will not conflict with her mayoral responsibilities.
Barlond-Maas has always been deeply rooted into the community, from growing up in Olivet to going to college at Olivet College.
Coming together as a community and knowing one another is a top priority for Barlond-Maas. “It’s good for kids to see a mayor going to band concerts,” for example, she said. Three city council candidate ran unopposed for three seats this November as well - Peterson, Pam Bess, and James Frohm.