BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP TRUSTEES
Four Democrats and four Republicans are running for four total seats on the Board of Trustees.
STEPHANIE FAKIH DEMOCRAT Fakih is an attorney with First Rights Law. She earned her undergraduate degree at University of Michigan and her law degree at Fordham University. She has not run for political office before. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES Unlike the full time positions of supervisor, clerk, and treasurer, trustees are part-time positions, one where you in essence stand in for your constituents, the residents of the township. What do you think is the role of trustee? What qualifications do you have to perform in this position? A township trustee has many roles. A trustee must oversee township operations and be a policymaker for the township. A trustee must be a leader for the township, familiar with the township and having a vision and solutions for the township. A trustee must work effectively with constituents and other elected township officials, listening closely to concerns and helping advance the needs of the township both effectively and ethically. I have the qualifications to fill all of these roles. As a criminal defense attorney, I routinely have to challenge and investigate policies and procedures to ensure both effectiveness and high moral integrity for the justice system. I work with legislative committees to help advance the interests of justice and am familiar with policy-making. I have the interpersonal skills to work with different stakeholders while advancing the interests of the township. I grew up in Bloomfield Township and chose to move back after graduating law school in New York City. I know what issues face the township and I have the ideas and skills to help solve those issues and keep the township a place we all love to live. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE A great deal of time as trustee is spent going over the township's budget, finances, special assessment districts, and other economic and investment issues. What is your background, and what qualifications would you bring to the table that would be an asset on a seven-member board? I started my law firm, Rights First Law PC in 2014. Over six years later, I have a thriving criminal defense practice in Birmingham. I know how to find solutions to problems, whether it is for a client or for my business. I can review and analyze data to help meet identified goals. I utilize available resources and critical thinking to find resolution. We live in a township full of resources, including our excellent township employees. As a trustee, I will work with township employees, elected township officials and other advisors to make sure every financial or investment decision bears in mind the best interests of the township and its residents. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES 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? Bloomfield Township has an extremely rich, long history and as such has many established homes and properties. It is different from other neighboring areas in that it has little development opportunity. There is not a part of the master plan or a township ordinance that needs to change, but the township needs to work to encourage homeowners to continue to invest in their properties creating more robust neighborhoods. The township should also continue to explore the possibility of creating a park space within the township. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT 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? I do not think hiring a township superintendent is necessary or appropriate for Bloomfield Township. A township superintendent signals a lack of confidence in the board of trustees. Bloomfield Township residents and those running for elected office in the township are sophisticated, well educated, highly regarded members of society. Residents should have confidence in their elected officials and should not require a township superintendent to oversee township operations. Bloomfield Township residents deserve to feel secure about the township’s future and have a board of trustees they can trust in and be proud of. PLATFORM ISSUES What is your vision of Bloomfield Township? If elected as trustee, do you see yourself working towards reforming one area, with a specific goal in mind? If so, what is it? If you have a platform issue, how do you expand your vision beyond your goal to understand and represent all of the residents of the township and their interests, which may not be the same as yours? My campaign slogan of Take Back the Township is about keeping Bloomfield Township a place we all love to live, something every Bloomfield Township resident can support. Bloomfield Township is a desirable community, but we must work to ensure the township continues to be a financially stable community with low taxes, excellent public services and a beautiful landscape to match. In recent years, Bloomfield Township has seen a lack of confidence in its elected officials. Whether misplaced or not, my goal is to unify the community and work to resolve the problems facing the township. 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? It is important for Bloomfield Township residents to have a board of trustees that speaks with one voice, respectfully and ethically and acts only in the best interest of the township and the residents. It is unseemly for a township of the caliber of Bloomfield Township to be in the news for a lack of civility. If elected as Bloomfield Township Trustee, I will work with all elected officials and constituents to create a township that works for everyone. We all have the same goals for Bloomfield Township – keeping it a top-rated, one-of-a-kind place to raise families and grow old. The township has it all and when we remind people of the things that make this community great, we can all unite to work around those common goals. A united citizenry is integral to maintaining an advanced and desirable community. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS Many residents choose Bloomfield Township for its beautiful neighborhoods, excellent schools, good public safety and other strong services. All of these amenities cost money, which taxpayers have consistently been willing to fund, approving millages for public safety, safety paths, senior services, and in recent primaries, $195 million and $200 million bonds for improvements at Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills schools. Why is there then such a strong emphasis to cut taxes and services by a vocal group when obviously a majority of residents, who may not attend meetings or actively speak out on social media, are happy with the township and want services to continue at the level they have been? Bloomfield Township is an exceptional community known for all of the things mentioned – beautiful neighborhoods, excellent schools, good public safety and other strong services. I am running to become a Bloomfield Township Trustee to ensure the community where I grew up and continue to live remains a community to love to live. Residents in Bloomfield Township expect a premium level of service, and are willing to pay for it, but residents also expect to receive value for their tax dollars. In order for the township to remain the community it has been historically, elected officials must set the township on a path forward that includes fiscal responsibility, transparent government and a dedication to residents and township employees. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared racism as a public health crisis and is appointing a committee to address this issue and has ordered implicit bias training for all state employees, including everyone in the administration. Should Bloomfield Township be taking any special action or creating policies or programs to address this issue on the local level? Please provide details for your response.
The Bloomfield Township Police Department recently underwent an accreditation process with the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP). The accreditation by MACP is granted to law enforcement agencies engaged in de-escalation training and implicit bias training. The Bloomfield Township Police Department should continue to engage its officers in these kinds of trainings to help ensure fair and effective policing in our community. These trainings should be conducted routinely to update law enforcement as necessary. Bloomfield Township elected officials and others in leadership roles within the township should also participate in implicit bias trainings. Educated leaders, committed to best practices within the township, can implement policies and procedures for Bloomfield Township as necessary. WHY VOTE FOR YOU Why should voters select you over your primary opponent? Please be specific in drawing your comparison. I want to take back the township for township residents. I have no special interests. I am just a township resident, ready and able to serve my community. I want Bloomfield Township to continue its tradition of being a township with robust services, outstanding fire and safety, good financial health and a beautiful residential and neighborly community. If elected as Bloomfield Township trustee, I will bring fresh ideas and a new energy to help solve issues facing the Township. If elected to be Bloomfield Township trustee, I will work to encourage continued investment in township properties. The township is in a unique position with little development opportunity. Bloomfield Township has established properties and we must strive to maximize the value of those properties and other investments. As township trustee I would also work to expand and enhance township services like electronic and hazardous waste recycling, while ensuring the township remains one of the safest communities for families. It is also important to create volunteer opportunities for township residents, increasing engagement with elected officials and with other members of the community. Encouraging community engagement helps strengthen neighborhood bonds and ties to a sustained township.
MITSUAKI MURASHIGE DEMOCRAT Murashige, a project manager at NAGASE America, has a B.A. in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES I believe the trustee’s role is to provide a fair voice for the community. I have experience in various industries and fields to bring diverse insights. Also, I am a problem solver in nature, and meticulous with my approach of deriving at the best solution for the communities. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE My experience working as project managers and working within pre-set budgets, and my years of experience as operations manager required in-depth understanding of expected outcomes and finding the issues and reasons for when the result varies from the expectations. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANES I feel the zoning ordinances need to be aligned with the needs of the community and potential community members. We need to evaluate our community to avoid and correct any systemic racism and other rights for equality. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT I feel that there is potential for this to work, but any delegation of power needs to be aligned with any overall plan for improvements. We need to avoid any selfish direction which may isolate the township. PLATFORM ISSUES I do not come with my own agenda for reform, but I will have a broad eye to understand what our community needs for a better future. My initial goal is to understand better of the needs of the community. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY I would suggest and push to try new technology and trends, so that our future generation are informed and are driven to be involved. We need to listen more, so establishing an easier way for the community to express issues and concerns will be necessary to unify. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS These services are what defines our township and brings value to our homes and community. Everyone has a right to their opinions, and freedom of speech allows everyone to be vocal about their opinions. But, as proven through past elections, our residents are happy with these services, so continuing to have an organized election process will allow everyone to make the best decision for themselves. We also need to strive to inform our community with all options in a fair and objective manner. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS Systemic racism needs to end. We all deserve to feel safe and accepted in our community. People need to be accepted for who they are and not based on their genetic or physical attributes. Our country is a cultural melting pot of various cultures where we can benefit from each other. We all need to remember that each family was an immigrant at one point, and we all deserve to dream and fulfill our American Dreams. WHY VOTE FOR YOU I am honest and fair, and I am willing to serve the community at the best of my ability. Although, I consider myself a Democrat, I also have Republican values, and I am willing to listen to everyone’s side to make the right decision regardless of political party lines.
VALERIE SAYLES MURRAY DEMOCRAT Murray, a retired school IT support staff employee, has a communications/advertising degree from Michigan State University. She is a political advocate with Voters Not Politicians and Promote the Vote, and has been a member of her subdivision board. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES I have served six terms as a board member on my subdivision board, going back to 1986 serving alongside neighbor (and former Supervisor) Dave Payne. I learned a lot representing my neighbors, especially the year I was chosen to be road paving chair where I coordinated our streets getting paved from dirt roads to asphalt, carrying petitions, and coordinating with the county and township. A trustee would be an even greater level of resident support, following the issues, voting openly and honestly for all proposals or considerations for the very best for everyone. Since the township is 94 percent residential, I would like to see residents input welcomed and greater involvement. As a 20-plus year public school employee I have a good feel for the pulse of the township, and understand the importance of a positive community. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE I have a BA from Michigan State University in communication, majoring in advertising. This a business degree, including emphasis on economics, marketing, management and statistics education. I’ve also worked in advertising in the Birmingham and Bloomfield area as a media buyer/planner and operations manager. When the state was in a recession, I volunteered to learn bookkeeping in the evenings to wear two hats to help the firm through difficult times. I understand balance sheets, payroll, and definitely watching the bottom line being closely involved in bill paying and budgeting for the business, along with buying media within budget for large and small companies. In the 1990s my husband and I started a small company, where I handled creating the articles of incorporation, and served as marketing manager and treasurer. I am also skilled and performed tax returns for this corporation, as well as our personal returns. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES Unfortunately the township no longer has a strategic plan. Years ago we had one to follow, but about six years ago, under this board, it was allowed to expire and not be renewed, which I believe has led to financial difficulties. You need a solid, structured plan as a foundation for budgeting appropriately. I’d call for a full forensic audit of the township finances, and create a new, sound strategic plan for our financial future. This process would be transparent to the residents, so they would clearly understand shortfalls, and any reason should adjustments in budgets be necessary. Again, it seems ordinances were enforced more in the past. I’ve have had residents complain to me about huge signs allowed in residential lawns, signs too close to the roadway, and odd advertising signs on roadway corners which are not only in violation, they are often unsightly as well. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT David Buckley made this presentation, and I wholeheartedly agree. In our township, there are no checks and balances, and the candidates for office are not required to have any special background or training for their position. For example, Dan Devine voluntarily attended treasurer classes, however, Brian Kepes never did. In our township the supervisor can suggest for example raises, or free cars, and vote to give them to themselves and others. Cities often utilize a professional manager or superintendent. This person is responsible for proposing budgets, purchases, etc. and makes a solid presentation to the board, which the group of seven votes on. This person is hired, and not elected. It’s a much better way to govern, having checks and balances on decisions, while limiting the power of the supervisor to help avoid conflict of interest, and abuse of power which I believe this board has taken advantage of. PLATFORM ISSUES My top priority, would be to establish a strategic plan, create a balanced budget that we can afford, taking into account all of the expenses, long-term liabilities and OPED debts of the Township. It is my belief, if the current board continues in their lavish spending, the township will become insolvent, and may have to default on long term promises made to retirees, which would be devastating. We owe it to the residents and employees to have a sound plan, and spend every tax dollar wisely. One of the incumbents mentioned wanting to keep taxes low, that’s a rather striking comment since we are at the highest possible taxation allowed by the state, and this board made no concessions. After the tax was passed, they passed six-year employment contracts, but only a one year budget? There is no plan or proposal to demonstrate how they can afford this. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY Residents are entitled to make public comment. However, it is very clear that resident input is not welcome. Board members rebuff our ideas, look away from residents, unless it is a compliment. If I am elected, making residents welcome and informed, is extremely important. We have a very intelligent community who have insightful suggestions. Free speech is a First Amendment right. Sharing posts online of factual information, informing other residents what’s happening in our community is part of our constitutional right. Keep posts factual, civil, and if you don’t agree, no need to be unfriendly or attack, either share your honest facts, or move on. I am personally being sued by the supervisor and treasurer for sharing a difference of opinion on social media. This is a baseless attack by elected officials, and coincidental to confirming myself as a candidate for trustee. An abuse of the legal system. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS I believe the majority of residents are not happy with the way taxes and services are handled in the township. Evidence of this is in the fact the supervisor was voted out in the primary. This resounding loss speaks volumes. The treasurer only won by a very narrow margin, not a sign of confidence from voters. Sadly most residents don’t follow what is happening, and when they do attend meetings are treated poorly. There is a lack of trust, clearly evidenced by the high voter turnout, in a pandemic, they wanted their voices heard. Services for the road and safety path repairs have been reduced, whereas, last year we were told they cut the grass medians “extra” ie more than the county. Why not cut back overgrowth on roadways and sidewalks that make it dangerous to safely travel. I believe residents are fed up with the constant need for more money, the highest millage rate already in force, and their solution was to do a SAD for more money. Threatening public safety has become all too common, when in fact, often the money is not used for public safety at all, but raises and benefits which is disingenuous to residents. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS Yes, I believe the township also needs to address this issue. It’s important to have a good rapport and relationship in dealing with residents and employees all across the board, from the receptionist in the office, to the elected officials sitting on the board, as well as all public safety staff. In the township, interacting with the public is a daily, continuous event. It’s critical that everyone is regularly briefed or attends some form of diversity training and awareness. I also believe it’s ideally important for the staff to more closely resemble the community in which they serve. I feel it also helps with employee relationships, to be aware and respective of everyone’s differences. As a retired 20-plus year employee of BHS and BPS school districts the same is true, and we regularly covered these issues to better serve our students, parents, and our overall interactions even with our own staff. WHY VOTE FOR YOU A 35-year resident in the township, I truly love this community, raising my three sons here. They had a great environment and excellent education which I value. I want to continue this to be a wonderful place to live, and raise a family. I was elected six terms on my sub board, earning the respect of my neighbors. Ten years as an Adopt-a-Highway volunteer in the township, plus six years as a volunteer foster home for over 100-plus rescue animals. I am recently retired from 20-plus years in public education, and have the time and desire to work for the community I so love. I’m dedicated, honest and heartfelt. I feel the two incumbent trustees have done very little, during their time on the board, showing little input, while voting for whatever the supervisor wants, whether it’s in the best interest of residents or not. Time for a change.
LINDA ULREY DEMOCRAT Ulrey, the director of the Ulrey Family Charitable Fund, has a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and MBA from University of Detroit Mercy. TRUSTEE RESPONSIBILITIES Statutorily, township trustees are required to vote on all issues, and are responsible for the fiduciary health of the community. I am sorry to say our current trustees are frequently left out of the information and voting loop on important community decisions. I am knowledgeable of township government operations, have the interpersonal and leadership abilities to engage the community proactively and have policy making skills. My 30-plus years in business and industry in various executive roles have prepared me well. But most importantly a trustee must communicate and listen effectively to the people one represents and possess knowledge of what constitutes ethical behavior. All residents are equal in my eyes and have a right to express their opinions freely and without fear of retribution. FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE Bloomfield Township has serious financial debts that haven’t been dealt with sufficiently or honestly as I see it. If we can’t trust and believe in those who govern us at the local level, it destroys our faith in governance and shortchanges what our community can be for all. I will focus on creative and new ideas for achieving financial recovery and solvency – that don’t rely first on more money from the taxpayer. Solutions must come from the board – asking residents for more money is a lazy way to govern. We are a community of incredibly talented and educated people, yet little input from this community is sought in any of the board’s important decisions. I intend to change that. My experience as an operations/plant manager has exposed me to business’s harshest financial realities. The road to recovery is always paved with a solid plan and resourcefulness of the stakeholders. MASTER PLAN/ORDINANCES A master plan is a dynamic, long-term plan that guides community growth and development. Our township has not referenced using a master plan in over six years. This is not about just about zoning laws or deed restrictions – it’s a vision for how to want our community to look and develop. Our community leadership should have made a master plan a priority a long time ago – but hasn’t. The result is a hodge podge of building and development decisions that do not serve the community in a sustained way. Creating a master plan would be a top priority but it must include many members of the community to participate in creating a vision and a community that we want to live in and raise families in. I have heard residents call for parks and more open community spaces – we had several opportunities to consider those ideas in the last several years that weren’t pursued. TOWNSHIP SUPERINTENDENT Unlike the successful cities that surround our township, Bloomfield Township residents elect our leaders as partisan politicians who have well-funded PAC’s. I support the concept of a city manager for our community. City managers are professionals who are trained/experienced in municipal management. The concept of a city manager was presented to our board by trustee Buckley, and the board refused to discuss the proposal. It is my belief that many of the township’s fiscal issues would have been more transparent and managed if we had this form of leadership. City managers report to a board of elected trustees so it provides the professionalism of city operations with the representatives of the community to craft the best way forward. Currently it is my view too much power and authority is vested in the township supervisor position with few checks and balances. This is an untenable situation and must end. PLATFORM ISSUES My vision for our community: create a master plan with extensive community involvement and input; provide answers to escalating water and sewer bills and be honest – tell residents what’s going on; we have a $5 million road department and crumbling roads – an unsustainable situation; township debt is one of the highest, annual budgets and spending keep escalating – a deteriorating situation that requires immediate attention and resolution; respect the residents and taxpayers – they pay the bills – stop the name calling and suing residents for speaking out; treat contractors fairly, publicize all contracts and cost overruns; require board approval for spending and stop unilateral decision-making by supervisor; open up the books as other communities have done – stop behind closed doors dealmaking; stop the game playing, hiring consultants for studies that are never produced or used; and restore checks and balances. REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY The tone for civility in a community is set by the top elected officials. When residents feel disrespected, are unable to have a forum for open, honest dialogue, when requests for information are met with “file a FOIA”; elected leaders have set the stage for divisiveness with their management style and speaking tone. When the supervisor is heard cursing residents and saying he doesn’t like them – there is little hope for improvement. When the top officials pit residents against the township employees that are compensated by the taxpayers, it's nothing more than poor political drama to divert attention away from real problems. I have spoken with several township employees who are saddened they have been used in this way. Respect and fairness for the role we each play in this community is the key to restoring good relations. We all need each other to make this community work. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS Our local police department is well trained and professional; however, there are many opportunities to alter any negative behavior of police officials in addition to bias training. I would encourage our police department officials to recruit more widely and seek candidates that express openness to and acceptance of ideas that might strike many older officials as unconventional. A healthier work life balance for police staff would address the stresses of the job and impact stress related behaviors. Most important I would like to see and help develop more interactions between the police officials and our community, young and old, that creates advocacy and appreciation for the job they do and a culture of mutual trust and interdependence. Thank you for the chance to respond to this important issue. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS Downtown’s statement regarding township community activists speaks to the magazine’s surprising lack of insight of the concerns of township residents. Residents elect local leaders; then trust that these leaders will make decisions that are in the best interests of those residents in an ethical and financially sustainable manner. Too often, these leaders, become complacent, cease engaging in two- way dialogue with the community they serve and lose touch with what is important to the very people who elected them. I care about this community deeply, and know that there is a better way to deliver enhanced, top notch services, spend our resident dollars wisely and lead ethically. Too often, bumps in our township’s financial road ends up in a request for new taxes. I would explore all employee and resident ideas of possible savings before asking our community to dig further in their pockets. There are so many exciting, new ideas and services to explore to enrich our community, make it a fun place to live and encourage the next generation to settle and raise their families. I appreciate the chance to state my views on this issue. WHY VOTE FOR YOU I have lived in the township and know it well having served on the board of my association for over 25 years, as well as a director, secretary and treasurer of United Homeowner Associations of Bloomfield Township. I understand the issues and challenges in detail and have been vocal about recent tax proposals that were not in the resident’s best interests. It's time for fresh faces and new ideas on the board. I am also an advocate of board term limits – let's give everyone a chance to consider serving their community. I sense complacency among many of the current board members who seem to just go along with whatever is presented – rarely is there serious discussion or dissent. Board members are difficult to engage – emails are rarely answered. I want to talk to members of the community and what they want to see happen. I don’t consider the position a burden; I consider it a privilege to serve.
NEIL BARNETT REPUBLICAN 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. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS Bloomfield Township is a premier community, a thriving place where people love to live. Bloomfield Township’s exemplary services are a model for other communities. A recent survey indicated that ninety-five percent (95%) of Bloomfield Township’s residents are satisfied with the quality of life in Bloomfield Township with sixty-nine percent (69%) being very satisfied. Then why is there a strong emphasis to cut taxes and services by a small but vocal group of residents? This group is not unique to Bloomfield Township. Communities throughout Michigan and across the country have groups that are anti-tax, anti-government, anti-authority, do not trust government officials, see conspiracies where there are none, and are often rude and disrespectful when their demands are not met. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot cut services and sustain Bloomfield Township as a premier community. Most residents get it. They love living here, enjoy the services, appreciate the staff that provide them and understand that you get what you pay for. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS I am not sure if racism is a public health issue or a socio-economic systemic issue, but that is less important than the fact that racism is real and unfortunately is part of the fabric of society. I agree with Gov. Whitmer’s order to provide bias training for all state employees. Bloomfield Township has become a more diverse community over the years. Bias training is something that would be beneficial to all employees and administration in interacting with other employees and our residents. I strongly endorse that Bloomfield Township implement a bias training program. 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 REPUBLICAN 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. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS Without a doubt, Bloomfield Township residents enjoy one of the highest qualities of life in Oakland County and Michigan, if not the nation. As former Oakland County Deputy Executive of Economic Development and Community Affairs, I can attest to the first two. This comes from a stable local government and a strong education system, willingly supported by residents. This lifestyle continues to be challenged by a small vocal group who clearly do not understand organizational culture and the representative form of government. For example, employee benefits in the public sector are seen as a part of toal compensation. They are long term commitments to employees who provide the services that define our community. (The recent compensation study clearly shows a much higher level of comparative productivity per employee, while total compensation is in alignment.) Local education, as a fundamental community value, was recently affirmed with the passage of property taxes worth nearly half a billion dollars ($190 million and $200 million) without the rancor caused over a $4 million millage to comply with changes in the state law to the township pension plan. These unfounded attacks on Bloomfield Township employees and services, with questionable savings, clearly undermine our future and quality of life. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS Tragically, racism is, and always has been, part of our society. It is often ‘baked’ into our everyday lives and takes incredible effort to identify, understand, and properly address discriminating acts, which may not even be intentional. Over my past 25 years of public service leadership, I invested myself in promoting racial equity and social justice through policy development, commissioning institutional inclusion and diversity programs, authorizing racial awareness and sensitivity training programs, and serving on community boards such as Oakland Family Services, etc. The greatest weapon against racism is enlightenment. I am also founding chair of the Pontiac Promise Zone Board where over $1.5 million has been awarded in higher education scholarships. The program received the North Oakland NAACP Community Service Award in 2019, where I am also a member. Racial awareness policies and programs serve as organizational shields, but often do not adequately address individual acts and subtle forms of racism. Beyond traditional policy review and sensitivity programs, my recommendation would be for regular exchange programs, including job shadowing/sharing/ exchange opportunities, for Bloomfield Township employees with their counterparts in minority communities. Cultural immersion is the best form of racial justice enlightenment. 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.
MICHAEL SCHOSTAK REPUBLICAN 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. SERVICES VERSUS CUTS In my experience in talking with township residents, there is overwhelming support for the world-class services that our municipal government provides. Whether it’s the building department, the police and fire departments, public works, treasury or clerk’s office, we have dedicated staff who deliver the highest quality service to our residents with the utmost respect. I strongly believe that township residents are appreciative of these services and are willing to continue funding them as long as we do so in a cost efficient way and continue to meet all of our long-term financial obligations. With the balanced budgets we’ve approved over the last few years while I’ve served on the board we have been able to do just that. Also, the compensation and staffing study that I led showed that our government does more with less – we have fewer employees per services delivered than comparable communities we studied. I think residents understand that their quality of life here in the township depends on the local government delivering these services and that the value of their home is greatly enhanced by the high quality of our local school districts and the outstanding services delivered by the township. RACISM AS HEALTH CRISIS Bloomfield Township has taken many steps to address this issue, most importantly starting with our police department. We have been way ahead on this by requiring both implicit bias education and de-escalation training be included in our regular training program for all members of the police department. I think we can roll this type of training out across all township employees. But I am proud of our staff as we continue to set a high bar in treating all people with dignity and respect. 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.