Voters elected Michael T. Bivens, making him Whitehall’s first Black mayor in the city’s 76-year history.
Bivens is currently the Whitehall City Attorney. When he was elected for that role, he said he became the city’s first African-American elected official.
“The fact that the voters decided to put me into this position. I’m extremely humbled by it,” he said.
Bivens ran to become the mayor of Whitehall unopposed. But becoming mayor was a full-circle moment for him.
“I come into this moment very reflective. Reflective of my past, reflective of my family, but more so reflective of the people who are coming into Whitehall, not only the young but the established residents and those who have been here for 70+ years, to be an example of the fact that Whitehall has not rested on its morals. It’s able to change and I’m a beacon of light for that change and I’m excited and humbled by it,” he said.
Bivens said ever since serving in the United States Marine Corps he’s considered himself a role model. He took an oath to serve, of being a lawyer and of being the city attorney.
One of Bivens’ main focuses is continuing the city’s development that is already underway. He also wants to attack the city’s poverty rate, which he says right now is 21%. He plans to reduce it by 10%.
Bivens believes that combatting the poverty rate can be done by creating strong community partners.
“We have an example right now with Discover that has now come into the city of Whitehall. One of the objectives of this business is to actually recruit Whitehall businesses as its business plan. So the fact is if they lead the way of doing that as a major corporation, then the other corporations that will ultimately attract to the city,” the mayor-elect said.
Bivens also believes in attracting workforce development partners like the African American Male Wellness Agency to get into the city and create pathways of exposure so people can know of the opportunities.
“We’re always going to be a small city, but we also want to give every single resident in the city big city opportunities so they can experience all of the fullness that it is being a citizen in this community,” he said.
Bivens grew up in a single-parent household and spent more than a year homeless. He said he was able to rise to where he is today thanks to hard work and support.
“It’s interesting when you grow up in that type of lifestyle and you know how to handle those resources, it doesn’t feel like poverty. It doesn’t feel like downtrodden. You roll with what you have, you work with it,” the mayor-elect said.
Bivens is a husband, a father of two and loves to fish.
He will be sworn in as Whitehall mayor on Dec. 31.