DeWitt Was Filling In But Now Wants To Stay On Bethel City Council

Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

When Michelle DeWitt was appointed to replace a Bethel City Council member, she said that she did not intend to run for reelection. But now she wants to stay. DeWitt said that she changed her mind because of the unique challenges facing the city during these times of pandemic and transition in the city’s management team.

“So when it was time to file,” says DeWitt, “I gave it some considerable thought, and decided that I would go ahead and put my name in for the election. Mostly with the thought of continuing to serve and to trying to, again, provide some continuity at the council level.”

DeWitt also thinks that it’s important that the city council support its staff. With the search on for another city manager, just six months after the new manager was hired, DeWitt said that the council’s role should be to set policy and direction, but to also stand back and let its staff do its job. 

“I really want to be clear, you know, that guidance might come from the council level, or would come from the council level, but we’re certainly not the implementers, and we’re relying on the team to implement,” said DeWitt.

As to who she’d like to see become Bethel’s city manager? DeWitt hopes to find someone local to step up. 

“I certainly encourage folks who are listening that might have an interest in that position to look carefully at it, because I do think it would be wonderful to have somebody from the community in that role,” she said.

DeWitt has long worked on the city’s Parks, Rec, and Aquatic Health and Safety committee. One of her priorities is to put the city’s YK Fitness Center on a better financial footing. She has proposed a plan to place a tax on sugary drinks that would be set aside to fund the YK Fitness Center. 

“If we look at a tax on those beverages, and then dedicated the revenue from that tax to these sorts of efforts, we would have the double impact of perhaps reducing consumption of those beverages and creating a revenue stream from their sale,” DeWitt said.

The measure was tabled until December, when members can move to bring the tax back up for a vote. If elected, DeWitt said that she would also work to improve the city’s committee process.

Michelle DeWitt is one of four candidates running for three seats on the Bethel city council. KYUK invited all four candidates running in the 2020 Bethel City Council election to join us on our morning talk show, Coffee@KYUK. We are writing a news article based on each of those interviews. Candidates Rose “Sugar” Henderson, Conrad “C.J.” McCormick, and Michelle DeWitt accepted our invitation. Bethel Mayor Perry Barr did not respond.

All four candidates have been invited to participate in a live forum on KYUK next Wednesday, Sept. 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Elections are a couple weeks after that, on Oct. 6.