Madison Heights, Hazel Park voters decide new city councils

Madison - Park News | Published October 22, 2013

In the Madison-Park News’ coverage area, voters will decide the new Madison Heights City Council in the general election Tuesday, Nov. 5. The mayor and City Council in Hazel Park is also up for re-election but are running unopposed.

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 their word limit, ( … ) replaced the rest of their answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Madison Heights Mayor
One candidate is running unopposed for a two-year term.

Edward Swanson (I)
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Madison Heights City Council
Six candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Mark Bliss
Age: 28
Occupation: Division manager at iDashboards, a software company in Troy
Municipality of residence: Madison Heights
For how long: Third-generation homeowner and lifelong resident of Madison Heights
Education: Certified IT project manager; Oakland University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1) Public Safety: As a 3rd generation homeowner, and lifelong resident of Madison Heights, I want to keep this community is as safe for my children as it was when my father was raised here (and when I grew up here myself).

2) Communication: We have many great community groups in our city who have helped us through tough times. After working with these groups for the last decade I believe that providing them with a city portal where they can post urgent needs, share information, and interface with city leadership would allow them to help more members of our community.

3) IT Infrastructure: With technology once you think you’ve caught up you’re already behind so I will use my experience as an IT Project Manager, and Division Manager of a software company, to determine how we can reduce waste and redundancy by replacing antiquated technology with modern systems.

Richard Clark (I)
Age: 77
Occupation: RETIRED FoMoCo
Municipality of residence: Madison Heights
For how long: 52 years
Education: Four-year apprenticeship along with some college; graduate of RETS Electronic School, Vickers Hydraulic School, Dale Carnegie, Michigan Municipal League Academy
Previously held elected offices: City Councilman, 16 years
Top goals: We are constantly looking for grants for public safety to maintain what we have. I am not going to blow smoke rings at you and say we are going to add more. I will be working on community policing to have police, reserves, and firemen stop and talk to residents and kids to bring a more positive feeling of trust.

Every city has the same problem of child abduction. I want to put groups of parents from all the schools who drive their children to school to receive training from the police department on what to look for, what they can and cannot do. With a magnetic sign on each side of their car for identifying their purpose.

To expand our work force for the senior home assistance repair program, to allow seniors or handicapped residents to stay in their homes longer and be independent for a longer time comfortably.

Bob Gettings (I)
Age: 61
Occupation: Retired recreation coordinator
Municipality: Madison Heights
For how long: 47 years
Education: Graduate of Macomb County Community College (Associate of Applied Science in Recreation Leadership) and Wayne State University (Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Park Services)
Previously held elected offices: City Council. Eight years on Madison Board of Education.
Top goals: I believe city service is one of the top priorities that should be addressed, Police and Fire being at the top of the list. Keeping those departments fully staffed is important to each and every citizen in Madison Heights. The people’s safety is number one.

Madison Heights has been known for its city services such has snow removal. People who live in other communities rave about our streets and how well they are maintained during the winter months.

I believe recreation and the library are two departments that should be well funded. The updates to the library have kept it current in today’s modern world. Recreation, what people do with their leisure time is very important. Memories about playing your first T-ball game, going to a city sponsored camp, going to the annual fireworks at Civic Center Park… those are memories that people keep with them for a lifetime.

Andrew McGillivray
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Robert Morelli
Age: 21
Occupation: Analytical Chemist
Municipality: Madison Heights
For how long: 21 years
Education: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (Michigan State University)
Previously held elected offices: Precinct Delegate
Top goals: My top priorities are strengthening the Police and Fire Departments, eliminating excessive administrative waste and removing unnecessary and burdensome permits and fees.

The current City Council has been far too willing to allow police and fire layoffs, endangering public safety. These departments are shells of their former selves. I want to prevent further layoffs.

In addition to a full-time City Manager, the city also employs two Assistant City Managers, each making over $95,000 annually. This is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers. We need to trim these areas of the budget, rather than cutting basic city services.

Currently, the city imposes a burdensome number of permits and fees on homeowners trying to improve their property. Many of these are unnecessary and far too costly, especially where no safety inspection is required. We need to make it easier for residents to make basic improvements to their homes.

David M. Soltis
Age: 46
Occupation: DMC Patient Advocate
Municipality: Madison Heights
For how long: 3.5 years
Education: Masters in Public Administration
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: I want to make a difference in our community by advocating for: Seniors, Youth and Public Safety.

First, I want our city government to make a commitment to give back even more to those retirees who have given so much to this community by finding ways to improve their quality of life. I plan to expand SHARP and meal assistance. I want to increase senior transportation.

Secondly, I want to invest in the future of our children with a foundation of principles that enable them and our community to prosper.  I want to provide opportunities such as superior quality education and civic responsibility.

Thirdly, I want to make all citizens to feel safe and let them know their protection is an integral part of this city. I want to utilize all our resources to keep our neighborhoods safe by supporting our Police and Fire Departments.

Hazel Park Mayor
One candidate is running unopposed for a two-year term.

Jack F. Lloyd (I)
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired department manager, Kroger Foods
Municipality: Hazel Park
For how long: 60 years
Education: Diploma, some college courses
Previously held elected offices: City Council member from 1985-1991, and 1995-2002; mayor since 2002
Top goals: 1) Maintain City Services: Our residents and employees have worked together to maintain outstanding service during the most difficult of circumstances. We will continue to cooperate, and do more, with less.
2) Fight Crime and Blight: Both the police and code enforcement operations have new leadership, and are showing dramatic improvement. In 2012, Hazel Park saw one of the largest decreases in crime in our City’s history. We also plan to build on these efforts, as well as place an officer in Oakland County’s Narcotic Enforcement Team program.
3) Build our Tax Base: Property values have finally stabilized, and are now showing signs of improvement. Several high-profile, commercial vacancies have been filled, and we will work to continue filling both commercial and residential vacancies. We will also seek to redevelop functionally obsolete commercial properties.

Hazel Park City Council
Four candidates are running unopposed for four two-year terms.

Jeffrey A. Keeton (I)
Age: 64 years
Occupation: Retired
Municipality: Hazel Park
For how long: 55 plus years
Education: Not provided.
Previously held elected offices: Mayor 1991-95
Top goals: Financial viability. Maintain the high quality services we provide in Hazel Park. Continue to provide art and cultural programs that make Hazel Park a stimulating community to live and raise a family.

Andy LeCureaux (I)
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Jan Parisi (I)
Age: 61
Occupation: Healthcare professional
Municipality: Hazel Park
For how long: 47 years
Education: Some college
Previously held elected offices: City Council
Top goals: The national foreclosure crisis hit Hazel Park hard. Like so many other Inner Ring Suburbs Communities Hazel Park has seen its tax revenues dramatically eroded by declining property values. Which has resulted in more vacant homes.

The antidote to this is to increased code enforcement efforts, the land cure, and  unlicensed land lords.
The code enforcement is revamping nuisance per se hearing process which reduces time for tagged properties to reach resolutions such as demolition of a dilapidated home. Residents are very happy to see that house taken down.
The land cure  is the answer to Hazel Park land banking  Which allows us to control our more vulnerable  housing stock.

Unlicensed Landlords have been difficult to identify to how many unlicensed landlords are out there. As of now we have software that will be able to track non-homestead.

With out that’s technology we cannot collect associated regulatory fees.

Michael Webb (I)
Did not return questionnaire by press time.