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Business consultant, innkeeper to file for City Council

Mike Baer Mike Baer

Mike Baer, a staffing agency executive and innkeeper who has lived here for 22 years, plans to file for a seat on the Hendersonville City Council on Monday.

Baer would become the fourth candidate to file for one of two council seats. Incumbent Jerry Smith, Debbie Roundtree and Raphael Morales filed for seats on the board on Friday, the first day of qualifying for the fall elections. If one more candidate files, the contenders would meet in a primary on Oct. 5.

“Two reasons,” Baer said when asked why he is running. “I love this town and I think it’s great place to live and I want to keep it that way.”
Public safety, encouraging high-paying jobs and civil respectful behavior in politics are three of his top priorities, he said in an interview.
“We want to keep our community safe. I’m a supporter of the police department and want to make sure we’re investing in a well-trained, effective, professional police force," he said. "Frankly, we don’t have a terrible crime rate here but it is rising.”
“No. 2 is the whole issue of job creation,” he said. “I would really be interested in seeing a business incubator, coworking space, somewhat sponsored by the city, or at least encouraged by the city, to create high-paying jobs, technology jobs, innovative jobs that people want today.
“And the third one is just the community itself. We’re divided, (though) we’re not as divided as the U.S. as a whole. I want to see those rifts healed, to see people communicating with each other in an open, respectful dialog.”
Baer, 66, and his wife Cindy own and operate the Elizabeth Leigh Inn on Fifth Avenue West. They have two daughters and seven grandchildren. Baer is retired from fulltime work in the staffing field but still consults in the industry.
The City Council raised the property tax rate by 3 cents per $100 valuation last month and the city management has recommended an increase of 3 more cents next year and 1 cent in 2023.
“Nobody likes to see taxes go up,” Baer said. “My only issue with taxation is if it’s balanced with sensible spending and everything I can see from my perspective right now is the city’s pretty decent in the way it spends money.” The tax increases are “probably not popular but sensible.”
He supports the city’s current policy that requires annexation for development outside the city limits that needs water and sewer.
“I think it’s sensible for the city to do it,” he said. “There’s no reason to build infrastructure in the county to take that on. I know that doesn’t make some of the (county) commissioners happy but I also know that if the city can lead in an equitable way everybody can win.” He’s fine, too, with the current council’s commitment to equalize city and out-of-city rates over the next several years and said he hopes the “bad blood” between the city and county over water policy can be left behind.
The City Council on Thursday night committed to a financing plan for a new $9½ million Fire Station 1.
“I actually support that,” Baer said. “We’re going to have to tear down Fire Station 1 and rebuild correctly. It’s got to have front side backside entrances for the trucks. It’s got to have facilities for a diverse male-female fire department. All of that’s got to be done. There’s no choice. And that’s going to require removing the putt-putt. We can recreate that in a close-by location and do it well.”
Baer touts his business experience nationally and abroad and his presence here for 22 years as good preparation for a seat on the City Council.
“I’ve led multibillion dollar companies,” he said. “I’ve also started a lot of little companies around the world and I want to bring that experience — what I call practical experience, proven leadership, that’s sort of my slogan.”

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The Lightning will interview all candidates for the Hendersonville City Council and provide coverage in the coming days and weeks.