37. Philip A. Tanis (1964 - )
Philip Tanis was born in
Lincoln, Nebraska in 1964. His family moved to Holland, Michigan in 1965 when his father,
Elliot became a mathematics professor at Hope College. A 1983 graduate of Holland High
School, Tanis then attended Hope College. That same year he was elected city councilman
from the second ward. Tanis graduated from Hope College in 1987 with a B.A. in History and
minors in Political Science and Mass Communication. In 1987, a week after turning
twenty-three years old, Tanis ran against Mayor William Sikkel, and with the support of
downtown residents - Hope College professors, Hispanic residents, and young professionals
- he won the election by a 16-vote margin.
The youngest mayor in the United States at that time, Tanis
had to hold his own against established members and patterns of society. Although he was
Dutch and a member of the Reformed Church in America, his blue jeans, taste for rock and
roll, and unorthodox style often met criticism. But it was his youth and his caring and
good-natured persona, which put him in the spotlight. For the cause of historical
preservation he once even dressed up as a brick. As a politician he was strictly business.
Dedicated to the reinvigoration of the downtown, he was influential in the removal of
parking meters, and he cast the deciding vote for the addition of the snowmelt system.
Early on, he had to address the issue of funding the Window on the Waterfront project.
Tanis was placed in a more precarious position when City Manager Terry Hofmeyer retired,
but a successful search landed Soren Wolff to take over the job. Tanis entertained and
eventually opposed the idea of a city marina at Kollen Park with heated debate. During his
mayoral term the city saw additions of a Gazebo at Centennial Park, a recycling center,
the Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, DeGraaf Nature Center, Hope College
Community Day, a skateboard park, and affordable housing for low income families. Tanis is
also credited with bringing the Tulip City Airport under the city's ownership.
In 1988 he began managing the Knickerbocker Theatre. Tanis
completed his mayoral term in 1989. He left Holland to attend the University of North
Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1991. He received his M.A. from the Radio, Television, and Motion
Picture department in 1993 while living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In May 1995, he joined fellow Hope College graduate Scott
Carpenter in Sofia, Bulgaria. There they worked for the International Republican Institute
on political development in the country. Tanis returned to Holland, Michigan in fall of
1997 and began working for the Reformed Church in America as its Internet Specialist and
then as Manager of Information Technology in January 1998.
Mayors of Holland Home