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Saline Mayor's Race Pits Former Colleagues Against Each Other

Brian Marl hoping to fend off Glenn Law in November.

Two men with a passion to make Saline a better place to live and work both want to be mayor, but know only one will get the job.

Brian Marl and Glen Law will face off Nov. 6 in a non-partisan election to replace longtime incumbent Gretchen Driskell, who is running for the state House. Both men have strong ties to the community and a professed desire to see it thrive.

Both men have a history of public service. Marl is a sitting member of the City Council, having served as mayor pro tem in 2011. He also works for State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor).  He has always worked in Lansing for the state of Michigan.

Marl believes his experience in government is a plus for his mayoral aspirations.  

“My experience in Lansing helps people get the most out of government,” he said. “My opponent suggested working in Lansing is not real work, that is a bunch of hooey.

“I help people on a daily basis to get the best out of the government.”

Law spent more than seven years on Council before moving to the Upper Peninsula to pursue a teaching job.  He has worked in commercial radio before going back to school and earning a teaching degree. He spent a year in Menominee to gain experience to help him find a local job.

Law said that background in the private sector give him the real-life experience to relate to his constituents. The ideas of hard work, moving ahead and keeping one’s head above water are his motivating factors.

“I know what it is to make sacrifices, to put off a vacation,” he said. “I have raised a daughter, who is going to be a senior this year.”

Both men have served on various committees or task forces that were designed to address specific issues. The experiences from being on those panels have shaped their philosophies.

Law wants to re-think incentives such tax abatements. The incentives are a useful tool but need some alterations.

 “When I was on the special projects committee we tweaked the rules to make it more stringent to hand tax abatements out,” Law said. “Maybe it’s time to reevaluate.

There’s a place for them but we have to be careful on how we hand them out and where we hand them out. I am not against them, but we have to become more attentive. Is this a business we feel deserves abatement?”

Tax abatements are useful in Marl’s opinion, since they are the biggest incentive for a municipality. But instead of focusing strictly on larger companies, Marl wants to emphasize small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We should be helping people know where the resources are so they can be successful,” he said.

Those resources include financial institutions which can help someone open a business, Marl said.

On the subject of parking, which has become a topic of discussion on council recently, the candidates vary on the proper response. The discussions by council have dealt with what to with drivers who are abusing the 3-hour limits in city lots.

Marl prefers the status quo, which means not ticketing violators, because he said the police department does not have the staffing to monitor the lots.

“I think we have some activity in the city where the police should be,” he said.

Law can understand why the council kept things the way are, but asked why have the laws on the books if they are not going to be enforced.

“It’s a very delicate issue and balancing act when you are trying to balance the needs of businesses downtown and those of residents,” he said. “And not having to scare off potential customers who come to Saline.”

Communication and education should be the proper response to the problem, Law said. But all options should be on the table just in case.

“(We need to) have some form of enforcement at least on those individuals,” he said.  “It is not fair to the businesses. It isn’t fair to those residents who live in the area and pay their rent and taxes.

“It’s a delicate balancing act for businesses to keep people coming down to Saline.”

Both men tout the city’s festivals as shining examples of citizen involvement.

Marl likes the Celtic Festival, but believes it should not be subsidized by the city. Law said the city needed more efforts such as the one that put up a new flagpole at Oakwood Cemetery.

The city’s finances are important to both men.

Marl wants to “think outside the box” and partner with local and state agencies to promote growth. He said he wants to be wise with the taxpayer’s money.

That sentiment is echoed by Law. That’s why he wants the city to rethink tax abatements. With the city still lagging behind the state, this is no time to be giving money away.

Paul Hynek August 28, 2012 at 01:28 AM
As a school board member in 2007, when Saline Area Schools was looking to hire a new superintendent, I heard a lot of similar comments about Scot Graden as a candidate for the job. He’s too young; he doesn’t have a PhD, never taught in the classroom, etc. Well, the board hired him, and he has lead the district through some difficult times and continues to be completely dedicated to Saline Area Schools. I feel the same way about Brian Marl. Having worked with him on Team Saline for the bond issue and talking with him when I see him, I can’t think of a better person to represent Saline as Mayor. Brian is dedicated to Saline, has a vision that encompasses all stakeholders and when an issue arises, I’m confident he will find a fair and balanced answer with consensus from all citizens and city council. He has my vote.
MissMon00 August 28, 2012 at 02:13 AM
PLEASE. To say that working for a rep in Lansing is not working is completely baseless. I worked for a legislator for a few years and please believe me - it's HARD work. Long hours, not great pay, and almost literally thankless work. The reward is helping people sift through red tape on food stamps, unemployment issues. I know Brian, an he works as hard as any other legislative aide in Lansing, on either side of the aisle. Believe me, he's done that job for years, he understands what it means to work hard.
David August 28, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Missmon00, I'm sure Brian is a hard worker and worked hard as a legislative aide. My questions were never answered. How does he support himself? What is his educational background? I'm concerned that we will have a 28 year old mayor who still lives at home with his mom and doesn't have a college degree. Does he even pay property taxes in Saline? Of course not, he's not a home owner! How can we expect him to be responsible with our money when he doesn't even pay property taxes! PLEASE.
John Carter August 28, 2012 at 09:23 AM
David, he doesn't live at home with his Mom and Dad. Not sure about the college degree, but how much does that matter ? Can he do the job or not. Do the people who live in apartments in Saline pay property taxes ? Yes, indirectly via their landlord, but does it matter that they pay or don't pay property taxes? Has he been responsible while a council member ? Yes. Go through the bios of our legislators in Lansing and DC, then tell me what matters. Do you have a college degree ? do you pay taxes ? You're allowed to vote, and we don't ask your qualifications. My vote is with Brian. THANK YOU
Saline Business Owner August 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Yes John, it does matter if they pay property taxes, especially when it comes to dealing with the issue in office. I pay property taxes for my house and my business. I also pay personal property taxes every year on my equipment. Personal property tax on businesses equal about 20% of the city's revenue. If most of my money goes to the government, I have a right to know about the people who are directing where it goes. I look at it as a job interview. Brian Marl would in fact WORK FOR the citizens and businesses of saline. We are not working for him. Having a college degree or degrees, is a very important credential to have when you a running for public office, especially in today's society. Brian may get away with not having a degree as a mayor of Saline but if he wants to run for a higher office in the future, he will get nowhere. And I like to invest in people I know who can go farther than that.
Mary Hess August 28, 2012 at 04:21 PM
(What I read) is if was a housewife, that lives within a budget my husband earns. I raise children. My husband pays the taxes , I dont have a college degree. therefore I can't relate to the everyday citizens of Saline. First I was elected to city council in 1972 with a little more that trust of Saline. and the first woman councilmember During the twelve terms I was elected to Saline City Council I I feel Brian Marl has served Saline well. no-one can be perfect in everything which includes Brian. He has given hundreds and hundreds of hours active in the community and the (business) area. Mary L Hess
Mary Hess August 28, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I have meet a lot of people that have a degree paper that you would say ( they are smart ) and they haven't any common sense. It is important that in disscussions to hear to both sides and come to a win-win conclusion.. when possible. Being Honest, Accountable, Fair, Inforce city ordinances, Allow all people to speak and hear them, These assets are very important to serve as Mayor and city council . I trust, Brian will bring that back as mayor. Brian grew up while his father was in business for years in Saline. Mary Hess
MSU August 28, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Maybe he won the lotto, who cares how he pays his bills. Frankly that's none of your damn business. If you want to look into his past and the jobs he has done for Saline get ready and sit down it will take awhile. He has pored his life into this city of Saline. Why don't you want to know why Law ran from his teaching job up north he only held for 7 months. I think having a family may take away on what the Mayor will do. It takes a lot of time out of your life to be the Mayor and having kids and a wife may not allow someone to attend different events or go to meetings. So David and Saline Business Owner stop worrying about how he pays his bills and start looking what each candidate has accomplished for Saline and lets compare that!
Fair and Balanced August 28, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I agree that a degree doesn't make you any better or worse in some situations. However, getting a degree takes organization skills, time management, project management and dedication to see something through. How can we have the leader of out city tell our young folks that an education is key for future success, when he doesn't have that himself? Just because his father was in business, doesn't mean Brian will be successful. We need someone that will be a true leader and good role model. I'm not dating that the other candidate is any better or worse. I just don't think Brian has enough real world balance to be taken seriously as a Mayor.
Mary Hess August 28, 2012 at 08:27 PM
To be fair and Balanced, I beleive you should sign your name! I'm 74 years old, and, llived in Saline since 1955 , my biography has been quite interesting and printed a couple times I beleive Brian has been a terrific role modle at 28 . May I ask all the things you had accomplish by that age?
John Carter August 28, 2012 at 08:55 PM
The average net worth of billionaires who dropped out of college, $9.4 billion, is approximately triple that of billionaires with Ph.D.s, $3.2 billion. Even if you remove the world's second richest man, Bill Gates, who left Harvard University and is now worth $59.0 billion, college dropouts are worth $5.3 billion on average, compared to those who finished only bachelor's degrees, who are worth $2.9 billion. According to a recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, 20% of America's millionaires never attended college.[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_college_dropout_billionaires some people, if fact many people do just fine in this world without a degree. That is why we also teach skills like culinary arts and welding and agri-science. Bottom line..can he do the job..Yes he can.
PeterT August 28, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Mark your calendar folks: I can't believe I am agreeing with John Carter! Brian is energetic and what Saline needs. At our house, he won our vote with his numerous hours that he has donated to the community and our schools.
Tim Walters August 29, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Mary, we'd love to share all we have done, but we are not running for Mayor, now are we. Bottom line is, most companies require a college degree to work for them, why should the position of Mayor be any different?
Tim Walters August 29, 2012 at 03:20 AM
One more thing. What does this say to young kids who don't think college is valuable? This supports that. All of our young citizens need an education. There's a difference in playing house and actually owning one! No doubt he looks the part, but that's about it.
David August 29, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Good idea John, Drop out of college and your likelyhood of becoming a billionare will increase substantially. This could be Marl's campaign message. If you graduate high school, donate enough money to the democratic party each year, align yourself with a nearby democratic state rep, buy some nice suits because you can afford them while living at your moms house, then drop out of college, get into city council and you can eventually run for mayor of Saline with tons of liberal support. I bet very few of those "drop out" billionaries are politicians. I'm sure a majority of them are entreprenuers, not life long public sector politicians like Brian...
Saline Business Owner August 29, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Tim, I could not agree more. It's a shame that his generation can get away with living at home with their parents into middle adulthood and still not have a college degree. I'm sure that he works hard for the community, but that's really all he can do since he does not have a degree or a private sector job to rely on. It seems he is only interested in his own career as a politician.
John Carter August 29, 2012 at 09:25 AM
You miss the point....you don't have to have a college degree is this world to be successfull. Ask the auto worker, plumber, heating and cooling, mechanic...they all have training, but possibly not a college degree.....in this case it is not critical either...jeezzz...
Mary Hess August 29, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I'm sorry but it appears to me, you have a mean streak going (business owner). Your former comment about the heavy load of taxes you pay appears to have given you a jaded veiw of our youth.
Carol Adams August 29, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I have lived in Saline for 35 years. I have seen many changes in that time. The city has grown quite a bit in that time, as has our country. You can not tell me that being a Mayor is equivalent to being a plumber, mason, landscaper, auto worker! I can see them not having a degree 25 years ago, but now however, it's almost mandatory for any job from a manager at Wendy's to nurse. How can you say that it shouldn't be required to be Mayor? An education is a foundation to build off of, not having one would be like trying to build a house on top of weak concrete, dangerous. Brian is a nice enough guy, but in today's day and age, that's not enough. Having a Mayor who didn't want to finish something he started like college, is a recipe for failure as a city.
John Carter August 29, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Carol, check out these statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States Besides the fact that Saline has a city manager form of local government. The position of "mayor" present in this type of legislative body is a largely ceremonial title, and may be selected by the council from among its members or elected as an at-large council member with no executive functions. Brian will be, of course, more involved and is FULLY qualified. Still has my vote, no one here is making a very good argument not to vote for him....it has to do with issues and solutions.....not a sheepskin hanging on the wall, nor a tax bill in the mail.
John Carter August 29, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Carol, et. all... I know people who have degrees and couldn't count change back if they were the manager at Wendy's (no offense to Wendy's managers). It is how you apply what you've learned...and that doesn't necessarily come from a text book.
Nancy Byers August 29, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Kids need all sorts of positive role models and obviously not every role model demonstrates the same qualities that make him/her worthy of the title. At age 28 Brian has served in Lansing and has gained hands-on understanding of our state government and developed an extensive network of colleagues there. He has served on Saline City Council and, to my knowledge, has won the respect of both his fellow Council members and the citizens he serves (at least those who take an interest.) He is a tireless worker who listens, learns and acts. Most young people need the college years to mature and to figure out the path they want to travel. They also pick up some valuable academic knowledge. The years, for most, are well spent. But some young folks know their paths early on and have maturity beyond their years to carry out the goals they’ve set. Brian Marl falls into this category. Brian is a sharp guy and I bet he’ll finish his degree. But to ignore his qualifications – dedication, experience, knowledge, for starters – as a role model, or more importantly, as a mayor, because he is young and hasn’t finished college, is shortsighted.
David Rhoads August 29, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I have been asked if the comments posted on this article by "David" are mine. They are not nor do I know who posted them. My comments are always posted with my full name. My reasons for endorsing Glenn Law will be made public closer to the election. Thank you, David Rhoads
Mary Hess August 29, 2012 at 10:41 PM
John; The Saline City Charter states the city has a strong council form of goverment. The city council is made up with seven councilmembers . One of which is mayor. The city council hired a city manager to help them . But it is not a charter position.
John Carter August 30, 2012 at 02:26 AM
@Mary Hess, I stand corrected. Thank you. I made an assumption based on the current mayor, whose actions seem mostly ceremonial. I expect and assume we will get more from Brian Marl.
John Carter August 30, 2012 at 02:28 AM
@PeterT...there are worse things in life than agreeing with me. I'll assume when we start to talk about school board candidates, there will not be such agreement. Go Delhey and Hynek.
barbara buchanan August 30, 2012 at 06:03 PM
If we put an editorial comment in the Ann Arbor paper you have to use your real name so my comment is to the saline business owner....why don't you use your real name instead of hiding behind a "generic and unproven" name? I don't know if you truely own a business or not.
Frustrated Saline Taxpayer September 19, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I have been a neighbor of Glenn Law's for many years. I used to say hi anytime he would walk by my house. After years of being ignored and seemingly been condesending to, I stopped my efforts of being neighborly. He has shown that he only listens and speaks for his chosen few. I certainly will not vote for a canidate who only is receptive to those he selects. Brian Marl has always been receptive and communicative. Both traits that Mr. Law is lacking. My Vote will be for "Marl".... so should yours!
Frustrated Saline Taxpayer September 22, 2012 at 06:30 PM
All of you anti-Marl finger pointers need to look in your own back yard and get your facts straight before you pass judgement. Brian is a taxpaying resident who does NOT live with his parents, If you really want to nit-pick over irelevant things...drive by Law's house. It is one of the most unkept in his neighborhood. He violates city ordinances by placing old nasty furniture, household items etc. on the curb for weeks at a time hoping someone will pick them up. Go to the dump like the rest of us Glen. Just because Brian doesn't have a degree doesn't mean he can't go back to school and get one ...but that is his choice not yours. With over 30 years of experience as a Successful Manager, I have hired and fired a lot of employees. I also found many diamonds in the rough who lacked a College degree but worked their butts off and became very succesful. Brian is the best choice with out doubt!
Rick Kuss September 25, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I know both men running for Mayor in the City of Saline. First, I would like to say that it is great that there are two candidates running for the Mayor's office. I believe that Brian Marl has a lifetime of experience growing up in Saline. Brian has attended the Saline school system and understands what education means to the children of Saline. Brian worked with his father, owner of the Saline Dodge company that grew from a small beginnings to a more modern and technological building to better serve Saline. Brian understands small business. I have known Brian since he was a young man; and I believe 100% that he is capable of being an excellent Mayor for the City of Saline. Rick Kuss

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