Changing leadership in the City of Hancock

HANCOCK – After five years in the center seat on the Hancock City Council, William Laitila has stepped down as mayor.

At Wednesday’s city council organizational meeting, council members chose Lisa McKenzie, who was mayor pro tem, to replace Laitila as mayor.

Laitila said he’s been on the council representing Ward 1 for nine years. He was also mayor pro tem for three years when Barry Givens was mayor.

“I figured five years being mayor was enough for me,” Laitila said.

Laitila said he wants to be able to travel more now, and he didn’t think it would be right for him to be away so much if he was mayor. He’ll remain on the council representing Ward 1.

Givens was chosen to be mayor pro tem at the organizational meeting. Givens chose not to run for council in 2008. He returned to the council September 2012 when council members appointed him to fill the seat vacated by former member James Hainault, who had to resign his seat because he moved out of the city.

Laitila said he has confidence McKenzie will do a good job as mayor. He looked to her for advice often when he was mayor.

“Lisa McKenzie is fully qualified,” he said.

Laitila said he’s uncertain now if he’ll run for another term on the council.

“One never knows what life will bring,” he said.

In the five years he was mayor, Laitila said there has been much progress in the city, particularly with the reconstruction of the city’s sewer and water system, parts of which were about 100 years old.

The pipeline bringing domestic water from a source in Baltic needed to be replaced, and Laitila said funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped that project.

“If it wasn’t for the Recovery Act, we wouldn’t have been able to do that,” he said.

The council also was able to receive funds from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to renovate apartments downtown, and many downtown building owners took advantage of Hancock Downtown Development Authority funds to do facade work on their buildings.

“You can just see the difference when you drive down Quincy Street,” he said.

Much of the work done downtown is due to the efforts of City Manager Glenn Anderson, Laitila said.

“He’s extremely well-qualified,” he said. “We’re lucky to have him here.”

McKenzie said she’s been on the council for 12 years.

The things the council members have worked on during that time are important to continue, including developing and maintaining downtown.

“I look forward to working with Glenn (Anderson) because he’s a great asset to the city,” she said.

All the other council members work hard to move the city forward, also, McKenzie said.

Laitila said he very much enjoyed working with the other council members and Anderson when he was mayor, and he thinks they made a positive impact in the city.

“I had a really great run,” he said.