Bossardet is a graduate of Indiana University, majoring in theater, and is a self-employed specialty pharmaceutical consultant.
As one of three full-time elected positions in the township offices, along with the supervisor and the treasurer, the clerk has a full load of statutory duties. Explain what the duties of a township clerk are. What kind of experience and qualifications does an individual need, besides the basic requirement of being a resident over the age of 18, to be a good township clerk?
The township clerk is responsible for many vital tasks that are essential to the community. The clerk is the custodian of all township records, so government transparency begins with that office. Maintaining the minutes of meetings, ensuring the publication of ordinances, compliance with records retention laws, and acting as the Freedom of Information Act coordinator are just a few of these duties. The clerk is the chief election officer for our community. This responsibility includes maintaining voter records, training of election workers, establishing polling sites, processing absentee ballots, and administering all election day operations. The office maintains neighborhood association contracts, processes a variety of licenses, and provides residents with convenient notary service along with acting as a passport agent. The next clerk should possess a working knowledge of Bloomfield Township's election process, have careful attention to detail, and an extensive history of customer service – all qualities I possess.
Michigan voters in 2018 approved changes to state voting law. What are the key changes that voters approved? Have local communities like Bloomfield Township adhered to the new voting changes? Please be specific.
In 2018, voters amended the Michigan Constitution with the passage of Proposal 3. This amendment changed several critical points in Michigan election law: requires overseas military and civilian absentee voters receive their ballots 45 days before an election, changes deadlines for voter registration, allows for straight-ticket voting, requires automatic voter registration with address changes, and, most importantly, permits "no-reason" absentee voting. No-reason absentee voting opened the door to all voters being able to request a ballot without justifying their reason why to the election authority. This change serendipitously paved the way for a legal vote-by-mail alternative to voters wishing to avoid the risks of exposure to COVID-19. Clerk Jan Roncelli has complied with the requirements of this constitutional amendment and the administrative rules promulgated by the Michigan Secretary of State. There have already been several elections since the adoption, and Bloomfield Township has met the challenge each time.
Many changes have been made to the Freedom of Information Act over the last few years. What are your views on government transparency? Does FOIA go too far or not far enough?
The public pays for the creation and archiving of all public records, and, with very few exceptions, I believe that information belongs to the public. In too many cases, the custodians of public records around the state treat these records as their own. In recent years, Michigan legislators and courts have done more and more to frustrate the transparency initially intended by the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Government units hide behind layers of bureaucracy designed to discourage the release of information. Fees to review and copy records have, in many cases, become prohibitively expensive. Some government units deny FOIA requests as they (correctly) anticipate that many people are unable to afford prohibitively expensive litigation to fight denials. Even when the government loses a FOIA case, courts seldom award full the penalties specified in the act. I am a firm proponent of open and honest government and will not block the people from what is rightly theirs.
How familiar are you with your community's master plan and zoning ordinances? Is there a part of the master plan or an ordinance that you feel needs to change?
Residents of Bloomfield Township continue to benefit from years of solid planning practices and sound zoning ordinances. The planning commission's authority comes from the Michigan Planning Enabling Act (2008). The commission is responsible for adopting a master plan for the community – a guide of future development goals for the township. The current plan was last approved in 2007, and has since been twice reviewed (2012, 2017). The commission also serves as a recommending body to the township board after providing an initial review of development issues such as commercial site plans, rezoning requests, and residential development plan reviews. It also recommends to the township board any text amendments to the zoning ordinance – changing the requirements of any given zoning classification. These requirements include permitted uses, setback, and frontage requirements. The zoning board of appeals must review any requests for a variance to the requirements of the zoning ordinance.
This past year, a township trustee introduced the concept of a township superintendent, who would supersede the supervisor and act similarly to a city manager in running the township. What are your thoughts on this idea, and why do you think it would, or would not, work for Bloomfield Township?
A township superintendent (or township manager) performs the administrative duties typically performed by the elected supervisor. This position is akin to a city manager appointed by the community's governing body and serves at their pleasure. Several dozen Michigan townships have created this position, including the nearby communities of Oakland Township, Northville Township, and, most recently, Redford Township. This management structure change has worked best in townships where the elected officials, including the supervisor, agreed to it and planned for its implementation. The recent transition in Redford Township occurred more like a coup than a thoughtful management change. The rest of the township board imposed an administrator mid-term. Michigan law forbids the reduction of an elected official's pay level during a term without the consent of that official. Redford Township is therefore stuck with two full-time salaries and considerable acrimony in town hall. While I am open to studying any concept, I will not support that change in the management structure of Bloomfield Township during the next term.
REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY
There has been an increased lack of civility at township board meetings and social media postings, contributing to a divisiveness and lack of respect and cordiality. Given the very public struggles that have taken place in the township, what would be your plan to unify the community and the staff?
I have spent years working with people both professionally and in a volunteer capacity. In every case, I have encountered difficult personalities, each having individual wants and needs in any given situation. Throughout my work life, I have listened to each point of view before taking action. It is not realistic to offer a vague "unity" plan when that unity depends upon the willing participation of every single party. I will work with every stakeholder in the community, regardless of their political affiliation or personal disposition. I have never subscribed to the unfortunate belief that someone is either 100 percent with me or 100 percent against me. I hope to lead by setting an example of cooperation and refusing to engage in petty fights and intrigues. As clerk, I will make the residents of Bloomfield Township my number one concern. I'll leave the infighting to more accomplished practitioners.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
Why should voters select you over your primary opponent? Please be specific in drawing your comparison.
I'm the only candidate for the office of clerk with election training and the hands-on experience of being an election worker for the Bloomfield Township clerk's office. I've received extensive training in the use of election day processes, understanding the Michigan Qualified Voter File, and the Electronic Poll Book. As the clerk is the chief election officer in the township, my training and experience give me an advantage over all of my opponents. I have more than two decades of experience in healthcare, veterinary, and pharmaceutical sales. My career has centered around serving the needs of busy healthcare professionals. Realizing that our residents' time is valuable, I will bring that same gold-standard level of customer service to the clerk's office. As a mom who has been active in my kid's education, I understand the importance of teaching our children about the government. I will partner with local schools to encourage voter registration of high school seniors and teach kids the importance of local government in their lives.
Smyly graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in psychology and Grand Valley University Police Academy. He is a Bloomfield Township police officer and realtor.
I’ve had the distinct honor of protecting and serving the residents (my neighbors) of Bloomfield Township as a police officer for the last 12.5 years. The role of clerk, similarly, is largely non-partisan with a focus on providing excellent customer service and treating every resident respectfully. The clerk’s office provides a host of support services across a broad spectrum including, but not limited to, running elections, voter registration, passport and notary services, and handling FOIA requests. The clerk position, therefore, requires personal integrity, the ability to multitask effectively, the willingness to listen and work diplomatically with others who may hold opposing views, while always conducting oneself professionally. Having a lengthy, proven track record of serving the public well is extremely helpful and reassuring. Additionally, the Clerk maintains the minutes and also casts one of the seven votes at Bloomfield Township board meetings along with the supervisor, treasurer, and four trustees.
No Reason Absentee Voting was approved in 2018. Michigan voters can now vote absentee without providing a reason for their request on election day. Moreover, voters can request to be placed on a permanent absent voter list to be mailed an application for absentee voting for every future election. Bloomfield Township, under the steady leadership of retiring Clerk Jan Roncelli, has complied with and made residents aware of the new changes, with approximately 10,000 residents asking to be put on the no reason absentee list. This election cycle, however, is quite different with the concern about COVID-19. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson decided to send out an absentee ballot application to every one of the 7.7 million people on the Michigan voter rolls. This action has caused significant controversy and raised concerns about the possibility and potential for voter fraud.
I believe government at every level is employed by and works on behalf of the citizenry, not the other way around. To that end, I strongly support the individual citizen’s right to be informed of most government action with the exception of high-level security or legal issues which must be kept classified. I believe it is in the best interest of government to have this view as well, since transparency is essential to citizens’ ongoing trust in governmental institutions, while holding them accountable for improper actions or potential overreach. Simply put, darkness does not exist in the constant presence of light. With that said, however, I do not support abuse of the FOIA process where individuals or political groups may attempt to create havoc with a constant stream of vindictive FOIA requests done simply to slow down or hinder a government entity.
Bloomfield Township passed its initial master plan in 2007, the same year I began my career with the police department. I found it essential to familiarize myself with the master plan over a decade ago, while more recently studying the updated 2018 addendum which addresses the rezoning and redevelopment of the large parcel of land at Squirrel and South Boulevard. As a realtor and homeowner association president, it’s essential I understand the zoning ordinances and be able to answer many questions that come from both clients and other residents. One thing I greatly appreciate about Bloomfield Township is its leadership has historically adopted ordinances which protect and support individual property rights of residents, as well as safeguarding the peaceful enjoyment of the community. I believe it’s important to maintain this approach in the future.
I worked the night shift as a Bloomfield Township police officer for almost 10 years. During that time, I often enjoyed the assignment of providing a police presence during township board meetings on Monday nights, which provided me with the unique opportunity to observe our local government in action. While there are occasional disagreements among government officials and residents, and sometimes among board members themselves, I do not believe the answer is to jettison decades of established precedent and a proven government structure which has worked well in creating the wonderful community my family, friends, neighbors, and I enjoy today. I am not against innovation or changing with the times when needed but history has shown Bloomfield Township is consistently ranked as one of the best municipalities in the state. Bloomfield Township is not broken, and I don’t see the need to overhaul it.
REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY
This focuses on an issue I believe Bloomfield Township residents care deeply about. I know I do. While disagreements will occur, as is the nature of our democracy, there is simply no reason to disrespect another individual in any venue, whether publicly or online. Robust discourse and the free exchange of ideas can be accomplished without personal attacks. This is the exact reason I’ve made the phrase “Serving Every Resident with Excellence and Respect” a central focus of my campaign and why it's listed on every piece of literature I’ve produced. I will always listen and show respect to every individual, even those I may disagree with. As a long time Bloomfield Township resident and police officer, I have always been dedicated to helping my fellow citizens regardless of political party or individual differences. My outlook as clerk will be a simple continuation of what I already believe and practice in my daily life.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
I have an unmatched history of public service and dedication to Bloomfield Township and its residents. Simply put, public service is in my DNA. While being a police officer over the last 12.5 years, I have been recognized for two lifesaving awards, multiple MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) awards, have trained new officers, and participated in our empowering self defense classes for women. As a homeowner association president, I provide leadership and help serve over 350 homeowners in Hickory Heights. I am competent, personable, detail-oriented, committed to customer service, and able to multitask while never sacrificing excellence. I have come to love this community as both a resident and employee, and I look forward to serving in an even greater capacity as Bloomfield Township Clerk. You can see a short video, and learn more about me, my platform and vision for Bloomfield Township at ElectTomSmyly.com.
Thomas has an undergraduate engineering degree from University of Michigan Dearborn, and an MBA from University of Michigan Ann Arbor. He is a mortgage loan originator and a real estate agent.
Clerks duties by law: Conducting all elections, training the election workers, maintaining the records associated with the election and delivering the election results to the Oakland County Clerk and annual audits of accounts; custody of records, books and papers. I have done similar functions in private industry. I have 39 years at Ford, most in management positions where I managed departments, teams, held meetings recorded and published the minutes of those meetings. I managed processes, budgets ($150 million), outside suppliers and supported senior management.
The changes are: Automatically registers people to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's license or state identification card, as long as they are a U.S. citizen and age 18 or older; allows people to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day, including on Election Day. The current registration deadline is 30 days before the election. Allows voters to obtain an absentee ballot without providing a reason. Absentee balloting is currently limited to people who are age 60 and older, disabled, poll workers or who sign an affidavit saying they will be out of town on Election Day. Reinstates the option of a straight-ticket vote for all candidates of a particular political party by marking one spot on the ballot. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a law ending that practice, and this November election will be the first time that option is not allowed.Proposal 3 also allows voters to seek an audit of statewide elections. In addition, it will add the current legal requirements for secret ballots and military and overseas voting to the Michigan constitution. Currently, the right to a secret ballot and the military/oversees voting timetables are part of Michigan election law but are not in the constitution. The most recent changes are in the same day voter registration and the attempts to expand the absentee voter rolls. Talking with the present clerk, actions have been put into place to address the same day registration. Those processes have been tested through several recent elections. The absentee ballots process will add many hours to the election night duties for the clerk. The ballots cannot be counted until the polls close so with an increase in the number of ballots and the cross references needed to ensure the integrity of those ballots, the workload on election night will increase significantly. The reinstatement of straight ticket issue will affect the ballots but will not add to the workload.
There can never be too much information in the public’s hands. If elected, I would put everything online. The key item that will be online is the township checkbook that is tied directly the approved budgets. All accounts would show their approval authority, what was budgeted, and the present variance to budget. If any overruns occur, they would not be authorized until the board of trustees approves it. This will drive accountability and will create trust and transparency with the residents.
The entire master plan needs to be revisited and redone. The present master plan is over 10 years old and has been ether been ignored or amended ad hoc. Each time the supervisor has said that he was going to reissue the plan but has failed to do so. The entire plan needs to be redone and presented to the citizens for their input and approval. It should address the future needs in infrastructure and how the upgrades will be funded. It must include a three-year review because of the rapidly changing technology and its potential impact to the plan. As clerk, I do not write the ordinances, I publish them. I think they should all be reviewed for relevance and technology impacts. Government is the one cost that really impacts citizens. The ordinances should be reviewed for their effectiveness and their economic impact to businesses and citizens.
I would fully endorse a superintendent type of governance of the township. It needs to be reviewed and studied, and it must have the resident’s input and support. But, yes, I am in favor of it.
REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY
Treat everyone equally with respect and fairness. That includes the residents, employees, and vendors. Our Constitution First Amendment allows for a redress of grievances by the citizens. It goes for all levels of government. Elected officials may not like what some of the electorate is telling them. It is symptomatic of an issue or a different perspective. If you are leading, you want the best solutions so you must consider all the views around the issues before taking a decision.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
I have been at the forefront of many recent township issues. The sewer and water overcharges, organizing the opposition the proposed Special Assessment District proposal that was put to a vote last August. None of my opponents have been that involved in the community. None of the others have had that level of impact to the community. My desire to serve coupled with my work experience and academic achievements are far beyond any of my challengers. None of my competitors have the experience in managing employees, processes, and budgets that I have. Why me? Courage to do the right thing, putting my community first. I will not take a township vehicle for compensation. I was the first candidate to make that pledge. My experience: No competitors have the experience in managing employees, processes, and budgets that I have. My integrity – I do not have a real or perceived conflict of interest as does one of my competitors.