"I'm an activist to the core," Jim Carruthers says. "I want to be involved in the process." Jim has just begun his second four-year term as a City Commissioner in Traverse City, after serving eight years on the Parks and Recreation Committee. "The city has changed tremendously," he observes. "The bay front has gone from manufacturing to park; we have more tourists and more traffic, more entertainment and more crime. We're not a perfect little town anymore."
Some of the issues are controversial but Jim is undaunted. "I get more positive than negative feedback. Most people say 'Thank you for what you're doing.'" Citizens are better informed since the commission meetings have been televised and Jim welcomes the change—even if he has a hard time getting out of Meijer's.
"I've become this weird celebrity," he says, "People recognize me and want to tell me how they feel about the train or the tunnel or the parking deck." Making decisions about the city is a hard job and he tries to represent the residents regardless of his personal views. "I may not be the smartest Commissioner," Jim says, "but I'm open and honest. I learn as much as I can."