Two Democrats filed for the party nomination, Dani Walsh and Scott Nadeau, the latter telling Downtown that he was withdrawing from the race and endorsing Walsh, although his name will still appear on the ballot.
Walsh is a business consultant who received a kinesiology degree from University of Michigan. She is completing her first term as a trustee in Bloomfield Township. She also serves on the township's zoning board of appeals and was an alternate on the design review board.
As one of three full-time elected positions in the township offices, along with the clerk and the treasurer, the supervisor is essentially the CEO of the township. What are the duties of the township supervisor? What skills and experience in Bloomfield Township do you possess to assure residents that you would be the best CEO they could hire to run the township?
I have spent 20-plus years working for global corporations and honing my skills in strategic planning, organizational management, process and budget efficiencies, procurement, training and workforce development, and management. As a business consultant, I help businesses redefine or reinvent themselves to improve and succeed in a changing business environment. My vast business experiences developed an arsenal of innovative business ideas that can bring the township business practices out of the 1980s and into the year 2020. Streamlining processes, adjusting the way we approach our finances, changing the structure of government, could lead to savings that would then be passed on through increased services. In my four years with Bloomfield, I have sat on the board of trustees, zoning board of appeals and Preservation Bloomfield. As your supervisor, I will provide leadership you can trust. Bloomfield will thrive again once we focus on transparency, responsibility, and inclusion to our community.
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?
When supervisor Savoie and treasurer Kepes rallied that the treasurer position be reduced to part-time in 2015, it opened the conversation of updating the township structure. In addition to making the treasurer part-time, I agree with making the supervisor role part-time as well. The current financial issues we face with OPEB debt being ignored for decades, asking for a new SAD tax before making a single budget adjustment, operating without a master plan, curbing the voice of the community in public meetings, withholding information from some trustees, and locking in long-term contracts with raises and generous benefits amidst the financial uncertainty of a pandemic, may have been avoided if the township had been run by a superintendent with a masters degree in public administration that reports to the entire board. By changing the treasurer and supervisor to part-time positions, we would have the funding available for a superintendent.
There has been a tremendous amount of debate the last several years over the state of Bloomfield Township's finances, and now in light of the COVID-19 crisis, there is concern once again that there will be even greater budget concerns. Moving forward, how would you provide the services residents expect from Bloomfield Township while dealing with necessary financial decisions and budgetary concerns?
Doing a full financial audit to find areas to reduce expenses, improve efficiencies, and planning ahead with a master plan, will help end the reactionary spending that currently occurs. I asked that we implement shared sacrifices and budget cuts before asking for new taxes, like the SAD in August of 2019. Instead, the majority voting bloc spent about $250,000 on Plante Moran, resident survey, and special election to realize my suggestion was correct. That wasted money would have been enough to save the animal shelter, hazardous waste, shredding, and open house. More recently, we spent $117,000 for an employment compensation and staffing study. That money was wasted since the administration rushed through longer six-year contracts with higher raises and lucrative benefits during financial uncertainty of the pandemic and before the study was received. Ending waste and choosing fiscal responsibility will leave us more money to provide services to citizens.
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?
I am on the zoning board of appeals. We deal directly with zoning ordinances and variance requests. We find balance between the character of the respective neighborhoods and the requests of the homeowners. Unfortunately, there is no current master plan for our community. It expired about six years ago, under the current administration. As a business consultant who focuses on long-term sustainability, it is frustrating that my requests for an updated master plan falls on the deaf ears of the majority voting bloc. A master plan is an asset that protects against short-sighted decisions, such as crowded condo style developments replacing green spaces and larger lot sizes, or financial issues caused by ignoring long-term debts. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” As supervisor, I will create a committee of citizens, community leaders, and employees to update our master plan.
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?
As a citizen I was shocked for years by the fighting on the board. As trustee, I realized it was caused by the antagonistic and autocratic management style of supervisor Savoie and gets worse each year. Information is withheld from trustees and citizens for power plays, the community voice is reduced, budgets are passed without being balanced in hopesa tax or outside force saves it. Recently, the supervisor did not provide trustees the customary four days to review details of contracts to be voted on. Instead, we received contracts moments before the vote. This is a typical power play of the administration. Their overt lack of transparency, inclusion and respect, and the constant pitting of employees against citizens, is a direct cause of the divisiveness on the board and with the community. My transformational management style will provide avenues to rebuild bridges with the board, community, employees, and schools.
What would you consider the top three issues facing the township and how would you address those issues?
Financial concerns – liabilities, spending, and accounting practices are an issue. Our OPEB liability was only funded at four percent, lowest tier in the state. New concerns surround the contracts negotiated before the compensation and staffing study was completed. I would find opportunities for efficiencies and reduction in spending while maintaining services and end pitting employees against citizens. This should be a great place to live and work. No master plan–Implementing a master plan would end the knee jerk decisions being made that are taking away from the vision and character of the township. I would implement a committee filled with leadership, employees, and citizens coming together to help. Outdated structure – “That’s the way it's always been done” obstructs improvement. A part-time treasurer and part-time supervisor would allow funds for a superintendent that reports to the entire board. With about 400 employees, we need a human resources department.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
Why should voters select you over your primary opponent? Please be specific in drawing your comparison.
My previous primary opponent, Scott Nadeau, has withdrawn from the race and has publicly given me his endorsement and support. I want to thank Scott for his trust and am honored to have him joining my campaign for supervisor. As a trustee, I see the lack of transparency and outdated business practices that risk the sustainability of Bloomfield. As a public servant, whether it was going public with the OPEB and spending concerns, approving a land swap to save the nature center to the detriment of my property, or bringing citizen perspective to board decisions, I always put the citizens needs first. As supervisor, I will bring successful business acumen and leadership you can trust to make Bloomfield stronger and rebuild the bridges with our schools, our employees, and our community and within the board.