Macomb TownshipMay 29, 2012
Republican candidates to face off for supervisor position
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Although the three candidates for township supervisor filed as Republicans, there are still fundamental contrasts between them and their visions for the future of the township.
Incumbent Supervisor Mark Grabow — 44, a former firefighter and lifelong resident of the township — says the township needs to set aside more money for its senior citizens.
“We need to get back and remember that the seniors that worked hard to bring this community where it’s at is treated with ultimate respect,” Grabow said. The Marvin Blank Senior Center, he said, “is not used effectively.”
He said money should be appropriated from the general fund to rehabilitate the center.
Charles Missig, 51, and a Macomb County Sheriff’s deputy, thinks the township treats local businesses poorly. Missig said he has been in contact with several business owners who say opening and running a business in the township is difficult. He cited the four-year legal battle between the township and Tavern at Tina’s as an example.
“It’s my understanding that we are sitting on top of 40 liquor licenses,” Missig said. “There’s not a whole lot of businesses in Macomb Township where people can sit down and have a nice meal and have a beer. I don’t want to make this a liquor license thing, but it is about being more friendly to business owners.”
Janet Dunn, 70, and a trustee since 1995, said the supervisor’s office needs to be more accessible to Macomb residents.
“I’d want people to come and talk to me,” Dunn said.
As someone who actively is involved in the township, Dunn said she never hears of residents speaking to Grabow.
“You’d think in all the contact I have, nobody has ever said I went to the supervisor’s office,” she said.
The supervisor, she said, has to seek out local groups first, ask them what their needs are, and then they’ll be more like to go to the supervisor in the future.
Grabow strongly denies the claim that he is not accessible.
“Unless I am in a meeting or out of the office, that door is always open,” Grabow said, while pointing at the door holder propping open his office door. “The Board of Trustees that want to make those decisions never come in this office to talk collectively about making those decisions. The Board of Trustees have not been through that door in four years.”
He said he transformed the position when he took office.
When Grabow ran for office in 2008, he did so as a Democrat because he was part of the Democrat-friendly fire union, he said. But since resigning from the Fire Department in 2008 after winning the supervisor position, the businessman side of him drew him to the Republican Party.
“You’re walking a real fine line between conservative Democrat and conservative Republican,” Grabow said. “At this level of government, it’s more about the person and how they do their job.”
In the next four years, Grabow said he’d like the township to add a mixed-use ordinance to the zoning code.
“We need to work with these businesses, being a little bit more flexible,” Grabow said.
The township just appropriated $3.8 million to pave several of the township’s roads. Grabow said it is the first of several road-paving projects that will take place in the township.
But Missig said the project was something that should have been undertaken years ago.“Quite frankly, I don’t know what took them so long, and now all of a sudden, this is a hot topic,” Missig said.
Missig said he spent five of his 27 years as deputy in a squad car patrolling Macomb Township and understood years ago how difficult it was to navigate the township, particularly in the northern portion near Town Hall.
“There’s no easy way to get to (Town Hall),” Missig said. “You really need to get these roads connected.”
If elected, Missig said he would pull from his experience as the sergeant at arms for the Police Officers Association of Michigan to corral township officials around certain goals.
Missig ran for Macomb County sheriff in 2000, but lost to Mark Hackel, the current county executive. Then he ran for the Macomb County Charter Commission in 2008, but lost by “eight stinking votes,” he said.
“We’re getting closer,” he said. “I’m going to win this by going door to door. And when people meet me, they’ll like my message.”
He also said the township needed to be proactive instead of responsive in fighting crime by raising the millage that pays the sheriff’s office for use of its deputies from 1 mill closer to its 2-mill cap. He said he’d offset the raise in taxes by cutting elsewhere and called the 0.9 mill spent on the Clinton-Macomb Public Library “a big chunk of money.”
“I’d like to get there and actually figure where we can cut back a little bit,” Missig said.
Dunn disagreed with Missig on crime.
“You’re always going to have those little pockets of crime,” Dunn said. “We have not had a whole group of people come to our board meetings and say we do not have enough police protection. We do.”
Instead, she said the township needs to look at keeping the same level of services without raising taxes.
She also disagreed with Missig on the township not being business friendly, noting that more than 50 new businesses have opened in the past year.
“We don’t ask more of business in this community than in any other,” Dunn said.
Dunn originally filed as a candidate for both a trustee position and the supervisor position. She pulled out of the trustee race on May 18 because she feels she can do more for the township as its supervisor.
She was a township employee before retiring in 1995 and taking the role as trustee. Dunn said as trustee she only gets biweekly snippets before board meetings of what’s happening in the township.
“I miss it,” Dunn said. “I miss the day-to-day contact with people.”
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