Tell the readers about yourself.
My name is Jonathan Eppley. I have had the pleasure of serving on the Big Rapids City commission since 2017. I work as a communication and marketing manager for Michigan Works West Central during the day. I live near downtown with my wife Megan and our children Alex and Madeline. I came to this area in 2010 for a job at the Pioneer newspaper and ended up falling in love and making a home here. The past four years during my time on the commission I have thoroughly enjoyed it and representing the good people of our Big Rapids community. The is truly a great community with amazing amenities like great shops, restaurants, parks and is full of incredible residents who work together.
During your tenure as a city commissioner, what is an accomplishment that stands out to you?
I don't know that there's one item that I feel is the best however since I've been on the commission we’ve voted to take on many projects including expanding sidewalks and side streets within the city limits, the purchase of a new fire truck, the removal of the dilapidated footbridge over State Street. The commission has taken on some more controversial things like allowing recreational marijuana businesses to operate within city limits and the new e-scooters, we have also done some great things like improve our incredible park system.
If re-elected, what do you look forward to accomplishing in the future?
There are a couple items that I am looking forward to see come to fruition during my tenure on the commission such as the development of the former Hanchett manufacturing site and the development of the trail head along White Pine Trail near the old train depot. I think these two developments have the potential to be a huge catalyst for change in those areas of the city. One of the most important issues I think facing the city of Big Rapids is the recently published results of the 2020 US Census which reports the city lost nearly 2,900 residents. According to the 2010 census we had more than 10,600 residents so to say that we've lost nearly one-third of our residents is shocking to say the least. I feel this 2020 census number is inaccurate and needs to be addressed because the city has the potential of losing millions of dollars in revenue over the next decade. So it’s critical that the city appeal this number or find an alternative revenue source to mitigate the potential revenue loss.
Why should residents re-elect you?
There are three candidates vying for the two open commission seats, myself, Amanda Johnson and Karen Simmon. I think all three of us are compassionate, intelligent, hardworking individuals who have the best interest of the area and its residents in mind, so in a way I think no matter who is elected out of the three of us I think we should be going to be in good hands. That being said, I do hope to get elected for a second term, having been involved with local government since my days as a reporter at the newspaper all the way back in 2010, and I used that those years of knowledge of the inner workings of the city to aid me in my transition when I was elected to commission in 2017 so I can hit the ground running and not have to play catch-up and learn how things work with the city. That being said, I'm very knowledgeable about where the city has been in its history and where we are looking to go in the future. I want to see every aspect of this great city and the surrounding area thrive.