Bloomfield Township Trustee/Republicans
Five Republicans are running for Bloomfield Township trustee in the August primary to appear on the November ballot for one of four positions as Bloomfield Township Trustee. One of the candidates only answered two questions we posed so we have opted to not present his incomplete answers. NEIL BARNETT
Barnett, an attorney with Sills Charboneau Sills P.C., received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Michigan State University, a master's degree in clinical psychology from Oakland University and his law degree from Wayne State University Law School. Barnett has been a Bloomfield Township Trustee since 2004, sits on the township's planning commission, election commission, is an alternate on the design review board, and has served on the zoning board of appeals. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES The role of a trustee is to represent the concerns of residents to the board. The role includes participation in policy development, finances, budget, investment issues and ensuring that outstanding services are provided to our residents. I have been a Bloomfield Township Trustee for over 16 years. I have been on the Planning Commission for 15 years, was previously on the zoning board of appeals and am a member of the Bloomfield Township Financial Sustainability Committee and the election commission. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE As an attorney, my focus is on asset protection and finances of my clients. I manage multimillion-dollar trusts and estates and work with numerous financial advisors. I have been a member of the Bloomfield Township Financial Sustainability Committee for the past four years and was an advocate for its creation. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES I am extremely familiar with the township’s master plan and zoning ordinances. I was a member of the zoning board of appeals prior to being a trustee and as a member of the planning commission was involved in the development and updates of the last master plan. I believe the master plan and zoning ordinances represent the township well. However, I believe we need to have a stronger tree ordinance and emphasize development of more green space. I am receptive to modifying the master plan and zoning ordinances as needed. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT The township has been successful with its current governmental format. Over the history of Bloomfield Township, the residents have voted in supervisors with excellent management skills. I did not support the concept of a superintendent when it was first introduced to the board because I believed the proposal was based more on emotion than on any factual and logical foundation. A superintendent would provide an unnecessary governmental layer and an additional financial burden to the residents. PLATFORM ISSUES My vision for Bloomfield Township is to continue to provide exemplary services to our residents and to provide a safe, stable and secure community to all residents. I am proud that I have been an advocate for the further development of our safety paths and believe they have helped to provide a sense of community. It is important to offer services to our seniors so that they can continue to live in their homes and to make Bloomfield Township an inviting place for young families. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY Now more than ever, it is important that the board acts with respect, civility and dignity towards each other and with the residents. In turn, the residents need to act with respect, civility and dignity towards the board. Such conduct cannot be forced, but it should be expected. As Justice Scalia said, “We are different, we are one, I attack ideas not people, some people have bad ideas.” In addition, the township should conduct more public forums to receive resident’s suggestions. WHY VOTE FOR YOU I have been a trustee on the Bloomfield Township board for over 16 years. I provide the institutional knowledge and understanding of the township that the other candidates lack. I have a strong financial background. I have always been non-political and look out for the best interests of our residents. I have been respectful and civil to board members and residents. I have been an advocate for public safety, spearheaded the township’s involvement in maintaining green space at the E.L. Johnson Nature Center and have emphasized the importance of providing exemplary services to our residents. TIMOTHY ROBERT MEYER
Meyer received degrees in plant pathology from North Dakota State University, an MBA from Lake Superior State University and a PhD in environmental epidemiology from University of Florida. He is semi-retired after being chancellor of Oakland Community College and a deputy executive to the late L. Brooks Patterson for economic development and community affairs. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES While a township trustee serves many roles, there are several which stand out in my mind. Above all, a trustee is the voice of the people. To do so requires generous listening to understand values, interests and desires of the community, and be able to build consensus even when there may be considerable conflict to bring to the township meetings. A trustee’s role is to work well with other elected officials, whether it is with fellow trustees at township meetings, or those at the state or federal level, since it is the collective body of government which brings ideas into action. And finally, a trustee is a steward of public resources to ensure appropriate use and accountability. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE Academically, I hold an earned MBA. I also have proven executive leadership in public service under the most difficult circumstances. As president of Sault College, I led the institution out of immediate insolvency to one of the top performing educational institutions in five years. Financially, the college went from near bankruptcy to a balanced budget, and holding a reserve of nearly one half of annual operating. This was accomplished through a practical strategic plan containing priorities, an effective budgeting process, and accountability for action. As the longest serving chancellor of OCC, I shepherded the college through the Great Recession while continually balancing the annual budget during a time of dropping millage revenue and ever increasing enrollment. Careful fiscal management resulted in providing the lowest tuition in the state while maintaining the highest fiscal credit rating. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES As former Deputy Executive of Economic Development and Community Affairs for Oakland County, I am very familiar with a variety of community masterplans from the 62 cities, townships, and villages which make up our county. Each one reflects the values of the local community. What is vital is for the plans to continually be reviewed against future opportunities. Without a solid economic and residential development plan, a community will cease to grow. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT While I have led several major institutional restructurings, I have found it is the person in the position, and the relationship to those around them, which determines leadership success. Currently, the supervisor is elected by the public, whose actions they are accountable to. The proposed superintendent position would put that choice in the hands the trustees. I strongly believe operational leadership should not be selected by a trustee majority. The supervisor should be of the people and have the latitude for innovation and independent thought, including the people they choose to support them. The supervisor is held accountable to fellow trustees through majority support of motions at public meetings without having to ‘work’ for them. Trustees should have a stronger oversight role and set measures of success through the strategic plan. PLATFORM ISSUES I feel the public and political gridlock the township faces is divisive to the vital public debate which our democracy is founded on. What is the value of freedom of speech if no one is listening? The public needs to be heard and the elected officials need to be respected. I feel I can bring the needed civility through my many years of public boardroom experience as a CEO during the most difficult of times. The township needs a strategic approach to resource management and to keep ahead of changes in external funding sources, including the county, state and federal government. There will be many financial changes in society following the Covid-19 pandemic which impact both revenue and expenses. The strategic plan for Bloomfield Township needs to be comprehensively reviewed though this new perspective. The social unrest the country is facing needs to be carefully examined as it relates to township policies and practices. Now, more than ever, we need to carefully examine how we relate to each other to ensure justice and equity, while providing appropriate community protection. We need to move in measured and thoughtful ways, and thoroughly engage in community dialogue. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY If people don’t feel they are being listen to, then they stop listening. The greatest attribute to leadership is generous listening. Much of what I have heard at the township meetings are actually a heated agreement, just from different perspectives. The first order to bring civility into the discussions is ensuring a forum where strict rules of engagement are understood and respected. Personal attacks are not acceptable, nor should they be given media attention. If discussions on issues are larger than regular meeting times, then one-on-one meetings, special meetings or town halls can extend the dialogue to help seek consensus. Any change requires extensive communication, and the trustees should be prepared for that provision. Accordingly, I would hold regular town halls to gather a broad perspective and attempt to build common understanding and consensus. I would faithfully serve the role as a representative of the people through communication. WHY VOTE FOR YOU Without a doubt, great social and fiscal change is upon us. As a community, we have two choices: To react to the moment, or respond by anticipating those changes and then adapting them to our advantage. Management is a process, leadership is understanding this opportunity. For over 20 years as a CEO, I have led strategic change in large public service organizations. I am skilled in strategic planning and have a solid record of success in fiscal management. I am very experienced in the boardroom working with peers, and understand consensus and compromise well. I am socially aware and respect all voices of the community. I know when to listen and then to act. Academically, my PhD research is in environmental epidemiology. I have a particular understanding on the biology and impacts a newly introduced disease can have on a population. From this background, I can provide a unique perspective on how we as a community can best protect ourselves through effective practices and policies provided by local government. In particular to Bloomfield Township, I understand the power of economic and community development as former Deputy County Executive of Economic Development and Community Affairs. It isn’t by accident Oakland County is among the top five most prosperous counties in our nation. I can bring this understanding to the businesses and citizens of Bloomfield Township as a trustee. ERIC PERNIE
Pernie, a former officer with the Bloomfield Township Police Department, is an attorney with Fraiberg & Pernie. He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice/law enforcement from Ferris State University, and his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES The role of a trustee is to act in the best interest of the community and the residents by implementing policies, to maintain the integrity and standards of the community, while also having a forward thinking approach to make the community better. As a licensed attorney and a real estate broker, I think I have the qualifications to serve the community, by using my communication skills and having knowledge of the laws. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE Successfully, I have been operating my own real estate company since 2016, as well as managing a law practice, where budgets, marketing, payroll, finances, investments, and the impact of the most recent local and global economic issues are of concern. I am currently responsible for keeping the budgets balanced at my law firm and real estate practice, which I am confident will be an asset with a seven-member board, and maintain the principles the community is expecting from us. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES I have lived in Bloomfield Township for approximately 10 years, worked as a Bloomfield Township police officer from 2005-2016, and have been selling real estate locally since 2011, so I am very familiar with the community’s master plan and zoning ordinances. Currently, I am in support of the master plan and zoning ordinances, however, I live in Bloomfield Township because of the charm, safety for my family, schools, and the overall residential living environment. Having young children, I would like to see our community have access to parks, which we are currently lacking. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT I don’t think a township superintendent is needed. Over the last 15 years, I have worked alongside the current supervisor and the previous supervisor, and I believe the current model still works. Our seven-member board has maintained the integrity of the township, by looking out for the same community they live in. A superintendent simply is not needed. PLATFORM ISSUES If elected, I don’t have a specific policy in mind that needs to be changed. My goal, if elected, is to maintain the community I live in. Not just maintain it, but make the community grow; keeping the residential feel. Bloomfield is very unique and desirable, having beautiful lakes everywhere, some of the most elegant homes in the state, and probably the best public safety around, which is why I live in Bloomfield Township, and is why Bloomfield Township is so attractive to new families. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY Everything doesn’t have to be a fight. No one will to listen to someone that yells, consistently makes degrading comments, and has their own private agenda. Lately the meetings are embarrassing. Some people need to watch the past meetings online and take a hard look at how they represent themselves and the community. This would probably aid in bringing the staff together and work as team again. WHY VOTE FOR YOU Simply put, I only have the community and my family in mind when I ask voters to select me over my opponents. My agenda is to keep our community safe and to keep our home values up. My agenda is not some type of political move. I am a father of two girls, married, and I live on the same street as my in-laws. They have lived in Bloomfield Township for over 50 years, and they never plan on moving. And I never plan on moving. Bloomfield Township is the community I love and will continue to love. MICHAEL SCHOSTAK
Schostak earned his bachelors degree in economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan. Schostak is the managing partner of Schostak Capital Advisors. He is completing is his first term as trustee. He also serves on the township water resources stakeholders task force, cable commission and is an alternate member of the Bloomfield Township Election Commission. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES The job of a trustee is to safeguard and promote the excellent quality of life expected by the residents. A trustee is one of seven votes that sets policy for the township government, approves the budget, and considers changes to ordinances. This requires information gathering and analysis, and consensus building as all action is decided by a vote of the majority. A trustee also has an investigative or oversight function. In this capacity the trustee acts as the “eyes and ears” of all township residents in ensuring that the staff and officers are fulfilling the mission and responsibilities of government. This requires the ability to review and analyze information, ask questions and maintain an impregnable integrity. Trustees must also communicate findings with the residents and maintain an open dialogue on issues that arise. My experience in both the private and public sector has prepared me to effectively serve as a trustee. While a contractor in the U.S. Department of Defense I learned how to analyze an issue from both financial and policy perspectives. Tasked with validating proposed defense programs, I cultivated the ability to dig into the weeds of an issue, to ask detailed questions and to formulate a fact-based conclusion. Moreover, I have worked on teams and led teams throughout my career and have built a reputation as a pragmatic problem solver who can “see the forest through the trees” FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE I believe that I have the strongest financial credentials of any candidate in the race. I earned two degrees in economics and finance. I spent two years performing financial analysis on defense programs at Booz Allen Hamilton and three years in investment banking at a top tier Wall Street firm before moving back in 2007. Since then I have held leadership positions in corporate finance for private and publicly traded companies. I currently provide advice on financial and strategic matters to small and medium-sized businesses and for five years I was on the finance department faculty at the Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State. I am just as comfortable diving into the weeds and reconciling numbers as I am presenting high level concepts. Whether the issue is the budget, investment policy, or other economic issues, I bring unmatched financial bona fides to the board of trustees. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES Over the past four years I have become very familiar with our ordinances and the master plan. I think the master plan is in good shape, however, I would like to find opportunities to open up more green space and parks. In terms of zoning ordinances, one that I have worked to change is the requirement that a resident seek a variance from the zoning board of appeals to put up a swing set or basketball hoop. If we want to be a community that is welcoming to families, recreational amenities like these should not be regulated by the township. I have worked on this for two years now and the amendment to the zoning ordinance has passed the planning commission and I expect full board approval this summer. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT I think there is a reason that no township of our size has moved to this governance model: residents want to be able to hold their township administration directly responsible at the ballot box. In fact if you look at some of the larger cities, they have full-time “working mayors” similar to our township supervisor. In smaller communities I think it can make sense to have a city manager and a part-time council or board. In a community like ours, I believe the residents want to know they have the ability to directly affect who is running the local government. PLATFORM ISSUES I believe that Bloomfield Township is an exceptional place to live, where our residents expect and pay for world-class services. We need a world-class workforce to deliver those services and we need to make sure they have the resources they need to accomplish their jobs. That said, I also believe that our residents expect us in leadership to operate as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. We must be transparent in all affairs of governance and responsive to the needs and requests of our constituents. In terms of goals for the next term, I would like to see us work to find creative ways to reduce the legacy retiree obligations we have – both pension and healthcare. I also think it is time for another multi-year strategic planning process, with our township bicentennial coming up in just eight short years. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY Regardless of who gets sworn into office in November, I believe the single most important task facing the new board will be ending the divisiveness and corrosive rhetoric currently pervasive throughout the community. I believe the board needs to exhibit positive leadership by holding more frequent town hall meetings (live or via Zoom) and by working to address some of the lack of trust that exists. Social media can be an effective mechanism for disseminating information and enabling direct feedback and dialogue between residents and those in leadership. WHY VOTE FOR YOU This election presents a stark contrast between candidates who espouse nothing but doom and gloom about the township and are driven with an irrational hatred of the current supervisor, Leo Savoie. They believe that they can cut their way to making Bloomfield “better”. Cut salaries, cut benefits, eliminate the road department and animal shelter, or the shredding and hazardous household waste events. They want to end the requirement that our police officers must have four-year college degrees. They’ve even suggested making our excellent fire department volunteer. Their goal is lower taxes. But it would cost us the very essence of what makes Bloomfield exceptional. I believe we can maintain the world-class services that we currently deliver while keeping costs down through efficiency and creativity. That has been a hallmark of steps taken by the board in the last four years. I bring years of financial work experience, in both government and the private sector. I approach this position with the optimism and positivity of building on what’s been great about our community, and not the negativity and hostility that others are expressing.