Tom Saint Amour: Candidate for City Council Profile
Tom Saint Amour (St. Amour) has never held or run for political office. He reports that he has served on various non-profit boards, including a local Chamber of Commerce board. He is running for City Council because he believes “things could be more inclusive of a diversity of opinions” by the City Council. "There are not a lot of opposing views” and “there should be more diversity of thought”. He also believes that there should be “more disclosure of planning and long-term (infrastructure) maintenance plans”.
What I like most about Portland
“The people. Just getting to know people. The community spirit present everyday”.
St. Amour stated, “It seems like Council lets the City Manager have what he wants. Not much disagreement. Seems like everyone has one opinion. There are mostly unanimous decisions”. He would like to “slow things down and maybe table some issues”. St. Amour said that he wants to serve in a role to help the City safeguard “unintended consequences” of some Council decisions.
View on Civility and Solving Disagreements
St. Amour says, there “definitely needs to be more civility. Just because you disagree does not mean you hate people”.
“Portland is generally pretty safe. We have a good—really excellent—Police Force.” St. Amour said that he would like to make sure that the police have “better and closer back-up”. “I’m not a fan of single officer cars”.
Maintaining and Improving City Infrastructure
St. Amour stated that he wants to be sure that the city is careful to look ahead at the replacement cost of city infrastructure and that the city should “maintain a rainy-day fund in different areas”. He would also like to see lower electrical costs. St. Amour does not believe that the city needs a new Emergency Services building that is on the drawing table. St. Amour stated that while “the city’s employees are wonderful”, that there are “a lot of workers” but there is a “lack of information” on how many are needed. In addition, St. Amour believes that much more could be done to help seniors especially in the area of transportation services. He stated he supports the city looking into helping the Senior Center more.
1% City Income Tax
“I’m not sure we need it”, St. Amour stated, “But, I’m not necessarily against it. We need to be responsible in our spending.” The City income tax is earmarked for street and road improvements. St. Amour questioned, “The County passed a road millage of 1% last year, so does that mean Portland residents are paying double for road improvements?”
St. Amour is emphatic in his belief and concern that, “The city should not compete with businesses.” Regarding the DDA. “I don’t feel like they listen to the businesses.” He believes the DDA should seek more business input into its decisions and operations. He also does not support the recent “2-Hour” parking enforcement plan. St. Amour stated that “Economic Development should not be about having festivals.” St. Amour opposes the “$400,000 Splash Pad” that is being planned for Toan park. “It’s not the best use of city money”, he said. St. Amour does support the new development that will bring an upgraded Sparrow facility to Portland on Hyland Drive. “I think it's great for the city. It will be nice to have more medical choices close by.”
Most Pressing Issues Facing Portland in the next 3 to 5 years
“We need to get taxes and spending under control. We have higher taxes than surrounding cities.” Also St. Amour is concerned about downtown parking. He believes that the new parking ordinance creates issues for people who have a downtown residence.
Personal and Professional Background
St. Amour grew up in Southeast Michigan and attended Monroe Community College, Lansing Community College and Specs Howard School of Broadcasting. His mother has lived in Portland for about 25 years and he moved his family here after that. He is married with four children, two of them ages 10 and 13, attend Portland Public Schools. St. Amour has long term experience as an independent business consultant and currently is employed as a Retail Category Specialist at Eby-Brown Company in Ypsilanti. St. Amour is also owner of Portland’s very own Chocolate Moose and has been the major sponsor of the community Easter Egg Hunt the past several years. He is also involved in the Monday Night Meal program at Portland Congregational Church.
This profile was written by Robert Lathers, Beacon Contributing Writer. It is the second of four profiles of 2019 Portland City Council candidates.