Local voters to pick new council members

Eastpointe residents to decide on financial proposals

Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 23, 2013

Residents in Eastpointe and Roseville will decide the makeup of their city councils in the municipal elections Nov. 5. Eastpointe voters also will decide on three ballot proposals that will impact the city’s finances going forward. Candidates were asked, in 150 words or fewer, to state the top items they would wish to accomplish, if elected, and how they would go about accomplishing them. If a candidate went over the word limit, (…) replaced the rest of the answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Eastpointe City Council

Four candidates are running for two four-year terms.

George J. Massu
Age: 35
Occupation: Small Business Owner, Pharmaceutical Inventory Control Manager
Municipality of residence: Eastpointe, Michigan
For how long: 13 years
Education: Grosse Pointe South High School, United States Marine Corps
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: My top three goals for Eastpointe are each connected. (1) Utilize Eastpointe’s tax reversion program to foster reinvestment of Eastpointe dollars in new commercial activity while simultaneously improving the look and feel of our storefronts and residential communities. (2) Diversify Eastpointe’s economic foundation, providing greater financial security for the city. Leverage our new assets to offer real, tangible incentives to potential investors while improving the look and feel of businesses and residential areas, to make Eastpointe a popular place for residents and visitors to spend their time and money. (3) Use low-cost, high-impact techniques to drastically improve our city’s visual identity — we can emphasize Eastpointe’s Irish roots and our great modern diversity while beautifying the city with simple and cost-effective actions. Initiatives such as these cost little to nothing yet add incredible value to a city. My top priority is to make Eastpointe THE place to live and have fun.

Wendy Richardson (I)
Age: 42
Occupation: Small Business Counselor
Municipality of residence: Eastpointe
For how long: 9 years
Education: MBA, Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: n/a
Top goals: Preserve essential services. Rapid response times have kept our community a safe place to live. In the past four years, I have reduced costs and fought to balance the budget while minimizing service reductions. I will continue these efforts to make sure that we have a strong police presence and responsive Fire and EMS.

Raise home values. We need to continue our efforts to increase property values by holding mortgage companies responsible for maintaining vacant homes, having strict code enforcement and by attracting more businesses to our community. Several business developments have already been started and are bringing positive attention to our City.

Increase Customer Service.  In the past four years, we implemented customer suggestion cards so that residents can report on the service that they receive from City Hall and other departments. In the next term, I will implement additional standards in order to improve the customer experience.

David Shank
Age: 33
Occupation: Railroad Operations Manager
Municipality of residence: Eastpointe
For how long: 8 years
Education: BA Political Science/Public Affairs Wayne State University graduating in Spring 2014.
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Generate more revenue for Eastpointe, without raising taxes or increasing usage fees.

One way to accomplish this is to allow businesses to advertise on certain city-owned property such as the backs of benches, professional sidewalk ads, or on fencing around parks.

Implement a Nuisance Abatement Program that holds Landlords accountable for trouble tenants.

Begin working with the City Attorney, Police and Code Enforcement to develop the toughest stance Eastpointe has ever taken to combat this growing issue, and in turn help reduce crime and keep property values from falling further.

Strengthen our Police and Fire Departments.

There are annual Federal Block Grants for Public Safety that are available, as well as many other grants that are categorical for items such as Police/Fire gear, vehicles and other equipment. Many go unused every year. Receiving grant money would help provide some relief and flexibility in operating costs.

Bill Sweeney (I)
Age: 52
Occupation: Pest Control Professional
Municipality of residence: Eastpointe
For how long: 28 years
Education: college
Previously held elected offices: 8 years Eastpointe city council (last 4 years as Mayor Pro-tem)
Top goals: While on council I requested an ordinance that would hold neglectful landlords accountable, and recently council passed our first landlord responsibility ordinance. I will continue to push for improved ordinances that hold land owners legally responsible for the people who reside on their property. Financial institutions, real estate companies, and others must be held accountable for the upkeep of their properties. I want to create a fine based system for blight properties so the owners can be held legally responsible, not just financially. Expand our lawn mowing program to include clean up and maintenance of neglected properties with the owners responsible for the costs. I will work with my fellow council mates and our administration to demand that state and federal governments reduce their spending as we have and start supporting communities that are trying to provide proper services for their residents. No more balancing their budgets on our back.

Proposal 1: 20 Mill Charter Amendment

Shall the Charter of the City of Eastpointe, Chapter XII Section 12 be amended to allow the City Council to levy annually a maximum amount of 20 mills for City purposes, commencing with the City’s next fiscal year?

Proposal 2: Headlee Override

Shall a “Headlee Override” be adopted so that the current limitation on the amount of City taxes that may be levied against all taxable property in the City of Eastpointe, County of Macomb, State of Michigan, be increased to twenty (20) mills from 12.1754 mills per $1,000 of taxable value, for general operating expenses effective July 1, 2014? If approved and levied in its entirety, this additional millage would raise an estimated $355,000 by allowing the City to levy the maximum mills previously approved by the voters and authorized by the City Charter and State law which has been reduced by the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution of 1963.

Proposal 3: Retirement

Shall Section 1 of the Charter of the City of Eastpointe, Chapter XVIII, Retirement Plan for City Employees, be amended, and Sections 2 through 37 be deleted whereby the Council be authorized to provide for one or more retirement plans for officers and employees by ordinance or through a third-party pension administration system, provided financial benefits of the City’s existing retirement plans shall not be diminished or impaired?

Roseville City Council

Four candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Salvatore (Sam) Aiuto (I)
Age: 52
Occupation: Corporate Network Manager
Municipality of residence: Roseville
For how long: Lifelong — 52 years
Education: Macomb Community College
Previously held elected offices: Roseville City Council
Top goals: 1. Public Safety — The city realigned positions within each department to better utilize the professionals we have to serve and protect our citizens. We are hiring 10 police officers and 6 fire fighters. I will continue promote safety in our neighborhoods.

2. Quality of Life — When our Recreation Department was about to be eliminated due to crashing housing rates and falling budgets, we had to find a way to save our parks and programs. We came up with the idea of a Recreation Authority with Eastpointe. When the citizens approved it, we had to build the Authority from scratch. I was selected to lead this new endeavor as their Chairman. I will continue to lead and improve our Parks and Programs.

3. Keeping it Clean — Continue to best utilize our resources, internal or not, to clean up vacant home lots, cut grass on Gratiot, and do yard cleanups.

Charles A. Frontera
Age: 25
Occupation: Small business owner
Municipality of residence: lifelong Roseville resident
For how long: 25 years
Education: BA Political Science; Minor Speech Communications from Wayne State University; Roseville High School
Previously held elected offices: Elected Precinct Delegate 2010-12.
Top goals: Roseville needs proactive leadership to bring new businesses and homeowners to the city. We can no longer afford to sit back and hope that people and jobs will come. Once elected I will be on the forefront marketing and promoting Roseville. As a small business owner, I know how to balance a budget while still bringing in revenue. Roseville needs this kind of experience.

As a Roseville home owner, I know what falling property values have done. We need to ensure that our code enforcement is doing its job while encouraging responsible homeowners to keep their properties beautiful. Roseville doesn’t need blight in its neighborhoods.

Lastly, we need to make it easier for new homeowners to buy in Roseville. I know from firsthand experience how frustrating the red-tape can be to buy a home. If we want new homeowners, we need to make it easier for people to move in.

Jan Haggerty (I)
Age: 70
Occupation: Retired Victim Advocate with Macomb County Juvenile Court.
Municipality of residence: City of Roseville
For how long:  26 Years
Education:  BA in Business management with Minor in Psychology and Human Development; Certified Paralegal.
Previously held elected offices: Roseville City Council.
Top goals: 1. Protect the quality of life all residents of Roseville.

2. Encourage new businesses and industries to relocate to Roseville to bring new jobs to our city.

3. Encourage citizens and businesses to take pride in our city.

Our three pronged approach can help protect the quality of life and services: general spending reduction; union concessions; and attrition.

To encourage new business and industries to our city, I will listen to and communicate with the State and businesses outside the State to develop attractive programs.

We have a city-wide blight program, in which citizens are trained on how to report significant problems. Our code enforcement officers continuously canvas our city for violations, citizens work with us to reduce blight, and our Beautification Committee encourages citizens to spruce up their property by awarding those who take in their homes and our city. I will continue working on these issues.

Bill Shoemaker (I)
Age: 50 years old
Occupation: Roseville City Councilman / Real Estate Agent
Municipality of residence: Life long Roseville Resident
For how long: Not provided.
Education: Associate Degree MCC
Previously held elected offices: Not provided.
Top goals: 1. Continue to make good decisions to sustain our City’s financial position and find ways to continue to provide good services to our residents. Roseville has just been awarded a grant which will allow the City to hire 6 additional firefighters.

2. Work hard on promoting Roseville to attract new business and families to choose our City as their home. In conjunction with our administration we are working on a redevelopment ready program and I was a proud founder and current president of the Roseville Heritage Foundation which brought Roseville its first Classic Car Cruise.

3. Stay involved in our community. I am an active member of Sacred Heart Church, Good Fellows, Kiwanis and Father Salonus Casey K of C.

Roseville mayor

One candidate is running for one four-year term.

John Chirkun (I)
Age: 61
Occupation: Retired Deputy Sheriff
Municipality of residence: Roseville
For how long: 30 years
Education: High School Graduate of Aero Mechanics High School, Post Graduate Aero Mechanics Vocational School, U.S Air Force Mechanics School, Macomb Community College and Highland Park Community College.
Previously held elected offices: Precinct Delegate, Councilman, Mayor Pro Tem
Top goals: We have endured the toughest economic times over the past 5 years and have maintained a balance budget therefore:

Public safety is number one. We have the best police department and fire department in the Macomb County. The safety of all our resident’s is paramount. I intend to keep out public safety number one. We have successfully obtained grants to enhance our fire department and we will do so for the police department or I will ask for the vote of the people to enhance and maintain our public safety.

Code Enforcement: Maintaining the “Blight Busters” program to enhance and assist with code enforcement and city beautification. Increase code enforcement officers and maintain no questions asked anonymous hotline.

Gratiot/Groesbeck redevelopment program. Work with local Macomb County, State of Michigan economic development official’s to bring new business into Vacant Roseville buildings/businesses along the Gratiot Groesbeck corridors and create a Downtown District (…)

Roseville Treasurer

One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Michael Switalski
Age: 58
Occupation: Oakland University Lecturer / Roseville City Councilman
Municipality of residence: Roseville
For how long: Lifelong
Education: Diploma, Roseville High School, BA, Classical Languages, Louisiana State University, MA History, Louisiana State University, M. Litt., Politics, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, ABD.
Previously held elected offices: Roseville City Councilman, Macomb County Commissioner, Michigan State Representative, Michigan State Senator.
Top goals: Roseville’s able Treasurer for the last decade, Cathy Haugh, is retiring to her grandchildren. I want to maintain the excellent services Cathy and her predecessor, the late great Eddie Knoll, have provided Roseville residents for the last quarter century. That means quick, accurate, and efficient operations in the Treasurer’s office as we send out the tax bills and collect what is due for taxes, water, and a variety of other City enterprises. I will bring honesty, dedication and hard work to the job. I have an enduring love for the City of Roseville. I would be honored to have your vote November 5th.

Roseville Clerk

One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Richard M. Steenland (I)
Did not return questionnaire by press time.