Novi City Councilman Andrew Mutch poses for a portrait Friday, Oct. 29, at No.VI Coffee and Tea in Novi. After 16 years on the council, Mutch is retiring.

Novi City Councilman Andrew Mutch poses for a portrait Friday, Oct. 29, at No.VI Coffee and Tea in Novi. After 16 years on the council, Mutch is retiring.

Photo by Brian Wells


Retiring Novi councilman reflects on 16 years of service

By: Brian Wells | Novi Note | Published November 2, 2021

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City Councilman Andrew Mutch has watched Novi grow from a small community into the city that it is now.

His parents moved to Novi in 1971, a year before he was born. In the 1990s, when his mother served on the city’s Planning Commission, he became interested in city government.

Now, after 26 years in local government, 16 of which were on the City Council, he’s decided to retire.

“I just kind of felt like doing another four years was probably more than I wanted to take on right now,” Mutch said. “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to serve the residents of the city.”

 

Before City Council

Mutch started his career in local government on the Housing and Community Development Committee when he was 22. From there he moved to the Library Board, where he stayed for several years before serving 3 1/2 years on the Planning Commission.

In 2005, a development was proposed on Meadowbrook Road, south of 10 Mile Road. It was one of the last remaining open spaces in that part of the city. The residents who lived nearby became concerned.

Mutch — who was, at the time, a self-proclaimed citizen activist — worked with the residents to apply for a grant through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which provides funding to local communities to help them buy parkland. The developer for the proposed project agreed to sell the land if the city would buy it.

But in the process of applying for the grant, Mutch was running into resistance from the city and City Council.

“I realized there’s only so much I can do standing at the podium as a citizen activist,” he said.

It was then that he decided to run for City Council, and he was elected.

 

A focus on parks and financial stability

One area of focus for Mutch was preserving parks and green space, and creating a balance between development and the preservation of open space.

“I think one of the biggest challenges we have as a city is, because we’re a community where people want to move, there’s this kind of unending pressure for new development, and at least for the foreseeable future, it’s always going to be there,” Mutch said.

This pressure for development creates stress on the remaining green and open spaces, Mutch said, because residents get used to seeing the spaces.

“The reality is that most of that isn’t protected,” Mutch said. “It means that in a year or five years that could be gone.”

In 2007, working with a committee created by former Mayor David Landry, Mutch helped to create a master plan for the city’s sidewalks and pathways. The plan was essentially the vision for the next 25 years of pathways and sidewalks in the city. This plan would eventually lead to the creation of the ITC Trail, Mutch said.

Another area Mutch has focused on was helping to maintain the city’s financial stability. The city would issue bonds for road and other projects, which it has gotten away from, Mutch said.

“We’ve gotten more focused on paying for what we wanted to without going into debt,” he said.

This has helped maintain city services without having to raise taxes or cut services, Mutch said.

“I’ve seen firsthand what can happen to local governments that get themselves into financial trouble, and the impact that has on the community,” Mutch said. “I didn’t want Novi to ever have to go through that.”

 

Looking forward

Even though Mutch is stepping away from his seat on the City Council, he still plans to continue being a citizen activist.

“I’m not going to show up at every meeting,” Mutch said. “But if I see something that I think is important to comment on, I’m not going to shy away from that.”

Mutch said that after his 16 years on the council, residents will still look to him as somebody who knows and understands the issues, and who can provide an informed opinion. He also said he’ll be able to help people who have questions and concerns to navigate the system.

“I always had this focus on helping residents,” Mutch said.

As far as other aspirations in local government, Mutch said he doesn’t have any right now. Even though he thinks people will expect him to run for the next higher office, he’s always found local government the most interesting.

Mutch said that as one climbs the political ladder into a higher position and the districts grow, it’s possible to get farther from the people you represent. In addition, working in a local government, people can see the impact of the decisions they have made.

Mutch said the break from City Council also will give him an opportunity to focus on other boards and projects he’s been interested in, but hasn’t had time to pursue.

At his last City Council meeting Oct. 25, residents from the community took turns thanking Mutch for his service. In addition to his parents and brother, Novi residents Rachel Sines and Brian Smith were among the audience members who shared their appreciation for Mutch.

“Your preparedness, attention to detail and genuine concern has not gone unnoticed,” Sines said. “This is a day I’d hoped would never come, as the city is losing such a valuable asset.”

Smith said Mutch has set a high bar for service through his time on council.

“All I can say is you’re going to be a hard act to follow for anyone who sits in that chair, and you will certainly be missed,” Smith said.

Oakland County Commissioner Gwen Markham presented Mutch with a proclamation from the county Board of Commissioners. State Rep. Kelly Breen presented Mutch with a tribute signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrest, state Sen. Jim Runestad, state Rep. Matt Koleszar and state Sen. Dayna Polehanki.

“I was just kind of appreciating the moment of it,” Mutch said. “That was really nice.”

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