Rushmore Gang Agrees: Collier-Wise Is Cool Councillor!

My favorite campaign poster so far comes from Kelsey Collier-Wise, who is seeking a second term on the Vermillion City Council:

Kelsey Collier-Wise, Facebook campaign photo, 2016.06.01
Kelsey Collier-Wise, Facebook campaign photo, 2016.06.01

This one picture may have finally tilted me toward liking our state’s Foam Rushmore Gang.

Vermillion’s Central Ward voters get to choose between their playful and brainy incumbent and Marty Gilbertson, a local landlord who sued the city two years ago to resist code enforcement on rental properties. Gilbertson eventually withdrew from the lawsuit, in which the city prevailed in April. Gilbertson says he’s not running to beat back city ordinances on rentals. Really.

Read more about both candidates in the Vermillion Plain Talk candidate profiles.


10 Responses to Rushmore Gang Agrees: Collier-Wise Is Cool Councillor!

  1. I don’t live in the central ward but I do support Kelsey Collier-Wise with all my heart. She is a great young woman in possession of acute intellect and a great sense of humor.

  2. How about “councilor”?

  3. Nick Nemec

    Is TJ or TR the wise guy giving candidate Collier-Wise the rabbit ears?

  4. Paul, good question!

    Vermillion dodges the question with “council members”: http://www.vermillion.us/index.asp?Type=B_DIR&SEC={51382952-4CEB-467E-B580-02F015BB2014}

    2 Ls is the British and Canadian preference: http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=4f9629de-40d5-49fa-b0a2-78580988b917

    …but Boston also uses two Ls: http://www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/councillors/linehan.asp

    …though not without controversy: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003424.html

  5. Nick, you may have identified the greatest controversy of the summer: who bunny-eared Kelsey? I’ve subjected the photo to rigorous ergodynamic analysis and am unable to conclusively determine the source. TR has a more mischievous posture… but TJ has that bit-too-casual “Who, me?” look that makes me suspect him.

  6. I’ve been both a tenant and a landlord in Vermillion (my wife bought cute little turn of the century house in Vermillion while going to college. When she graduated, we rented it out.). That city’s ordinances regarding rental properties make it pretty hard to make things work out right in that town unless you’re a slum lord.

    Vermillion’s going rate is about $250 – $300 per bedroom. If you own the place outright, you can actually afford to pay someone to do repairs. But if you’ve got a mortgage on the place you’re renting out, you’re maybe just clearing those costs. And you’re doing repairs yourself.

    Now the city says separate units need separate HVAC. Sounds good on paper, but that could be an additional $20k. So that’s 17 months’ rent for a 4 bedroom house at $300 per bed.

    They want hardwired smoke detectors because renters regularly take the batteries out of installed smoke detectors.

    We ended up taking a $5,000 loss selling the house just to get out and not have to bring it up to code, which would’ve cost us about $50k.

    I’m not going to defend the slum lords of Vermillion for not repairing rental homes, but when the city keeps passing ordinances that add extra cost, and don’t focus on the real safety hazards and code enforcement of those hazards, the council is doing a disservice to all those renters.

  7. Wonder how hard it is to always be in the same order for photos: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt & Lincoln.

  8. mtr, I suspect those guys have practiced so much that they can get into that line-up almost automatically.

    Wayne, do you know if any other communities have adopted codes like Vermillion’s? Is Vermillion uniquely strict?

  9. happy camper

    Makes you wonder about their motives beyond safety. If the landlord splits up a bill and the tenants are ok with that, that should be their business, not a municipality to say otherwise. The owners of the larger complexes will benefit from either eliminating smaller competition or causing them to increase rates making them more competitive. Government intrusion.

  10. I have a pretty small sample size, Cory, but when I was comparing city ordinances while working at USD, Vermillion definitely had a lot more specific regulations regarding rental units. Some of them are outright discriminatory (no more than 4 non-related people living in the same housing unit, etc.).

    They have more rental regulations than Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls actually enforces what they have.

    What we see in Vermillion is, due to the lack of enforcement of established rental units, it’s prohibitively expensive for others to enter the market as landlords unless they build new and charge a premium. That means the slumlords have less competition from onsie-twosie landlords. Ultimately that hurts students, as Kelo pointed out. It was pretty telling when Mr. Prescott admitted they don’t follow up with code violators; Vermillion just doesn’t have (or doesn’t devote) the staffpower to follow up enforcement. If they really were concerned about tenant safety, they’d stick to the basics of safety and enforce those ordinances stringently, rather than worry about whether a tenant has to split HVAC costs proportionally vs how much they use.