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Rochester, Rochester Hills

October 23, 2013

Rochester, Rochester Hills Voters decide green space millage, council seats

In the Post’s coverage area, voters will decide two city council races and a ballot proposal Nov. 5.
Below is the language of the millage proposal as it will appear on the ballot, as well as profiles of the candidates. 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, (…) replaces the rest of their answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Rochester City Council
Five candidates are running for four open seats. The three candidates with the highest vote totals will earn four-year terms, and the candidate with the fourth-highest vote total will earn a two-year term. 

Stuart Bikson (I)
Age: Not provided
Occupation: Not provided
Municipality of residence: Not provided
For how long: Not provided
Education: Not provided
Previously held elected office: Current mayor of Rochester
Top goals: I am running for reelection because I believe that I can provide Rochester with proven leadership for the City Council. I have served on the city council for 14 years and have served as Mayor for four years. I have provided leadership on issues of having a balanced budget, reducing taxes, supporting our police and fire departments, having meetings on television and improving the roads and infrastructure of the city. I have also been a leader in providing excellent city services with reduced city resources. If I am reelected, I will continue to fight for these core issues. I am currently a special education teacher at Waterford Mott High school and serve on the Planning Commission, DDA and OPC Boards of Directors. I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and a MAT in Teaching from Oakland University. My first priority (…)

Jeffrey Cuthbertson (I)
Age: 39
Occupation: Attorney and small business owner
Municipality of residence: Rochester
For how long: Life
Education: The University of Michigan, BA; The Thomas M. Cooley Law School at
Oakland University, JD
Previously held elected offices: Rochester City Council.  (Mayor 2008-11; Mayor Pro-Tem 2005-7; 2011-present)
Top goals: 1) Maintain Budget Discipline:  Despite increasing property values, we must keep city government efficient and find cost savings in every budget. Future surpluses should be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts while also saving for important infrastructure improvements. 2) Reduce Taxes: We can responsibly reduce City taxes ½ mills in the next budget and continue to provide high quality local services in a City with great amenities and businesses. 3) Quality Infrastructure and Parks:  Making sure that our local roads and water system are maintained is central to thriving neighborhoods and businesses. Working to create a funded plan to achieve this important goal is a central priority. In addition, maintaining and enhancing our parks will improve quality of life experiences and increase property values.

Cathy Daldin (I)
Age: 52
Occupation: Co-owner Shamrock Travel
Municipality of residence: Rochester
For how long: 24 years
Education: BBA Western Michigan University
Previously held elected offices: Not provided
Top goals: Sound financial future. The city has worked hard to develop sound financial practices, cutting expenses while still providing excellent services. While property values are rising, we need to plan accordingly to ensure we continue to run a small efficient government. I will work hard making sure taxes collected are at a proper rate and spent wisely.

Protecting property values
The comments I hear about Rochester are “sense of place” and “quality of life”. Rochester’s parks, trails, beautiful neighborhoods and downtown must be maintained. To accomplish this I will see that the city works hard to ensure codes and ordinances are enforced.

Planning for the future
Master plans are completed for both the city and the parks. These plans will guide us with future development and redevelopment. City Council is instrumental in making sure these plans are carried out. I have the leadership qualities needed to make important decisions.

Ann Marie Peterson
Age: 48
Occupation: Not provided
Municipality of residence: Rochester
For how long: 26 years
Education: Not provided
Previously held elected offices: Not provided
Top goals: 1. I would like to see reduced spending. We need to determine if the items being requested are needs or wants. We need to make sure we exhaust all options reaching far and beyond to make sure these decisions will have a return on investment. Will these items enhance our city and protect our infrastructure. With technology changing so rapidly are we looking far enough ahead for solutions. 2.  I feel strongly that we need to find ways to retain businesses and attract more consumers to our city, We need to embrace the consumers and engage everyone to accomplish this. With our tax base 72% resident based we need to have a culturally diverse city with art/theatre/entertainment to attract all ages.  I would like to see us utilize our colleges and our historic heritage to enhance these relationships, while keeping our green space, trails and streams which is (…)

Robert Jackson Ray
Age: 34
Occupation: Financial Advisor (Partner - Levy, Bocknek & Ray Wealth Consulting Group, UBS Financial Services Inc.)
Municipality of residence: Rochester
For how long: Over 4 years (Rochester-area for over 15 years)
Education: B.S. Finance, Oakland University; Financial Planning Certificate, Oakland University; advanced financial planning designations from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the College for Financial Planning.
Previously held elected offices: Not provided
Top goals: As a neighbor, I share the same community values and traditions that make Rochester such a great place to live. As a candidate for City Council, I believe it’s critical that we preserve our fiscal responsibility by advocating for low taxes, maintaining a balanced budget and increasing government efficiently wherever possible. We also need to continue to keep our community safe by supporting local police, fire, paramedic and rapid emergency response services. Lastly, I support strengthening our community by encouraging creative business growth and helping to enhance the quality of community life. I have attended every budget planning meeting earlier this year, learned first-hand how Rochester is kept safe and know that a mix of professional and family attractions enhance the overall experience of our community.  As a Councilmember, I will use my experience and enthusiasm to focus on positive solutions that benefit all of Rochester.

Rochester Hills City Council member at large
Two candidates are running for one four-year term.

Kevin S. Brown
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Jeff Lauth
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Rochester Hills City Council member District 1
One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Steph Morita
Age: 43
Occupation: Attorney, specializing in municipal law and taxation
Municipality of residence: Rochester Hill
For how long: 9 years
Previously held elected offices: None
Education: University of Michigan, A.B. with Honors in Religious Studies and dual concentration in Political Science; Wayne State University Law School, J.D.
Top goals: In addition to addressing city-wide issues such as road maintenance, code enforcement and public safety, of particular importance to District 1 are the following:

Adams Road. Traffic safety and congestion on Adams Road (under County jurisdiction) can be improved through better partnering with the County Road Commission.

Brownfield Redevelopment. I am a member of the City’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (B.R.A.). One of my greatest considerations is how a redevelopment will affect adjacent properties. It is important that these sites are cleaned-up and redeveloped in harmony with their surroundings, as well as being financially sound. I intend to continue my work on the B.R.A. Homeowner Association (HOA) Communication. HOA leadership should receive notice from the City of neighborhood issues (e.g. road work or break-ins), so HOA membership can be notified. The twice yearly City HOA leadership forums are helpful, but direct communication between City staff and HOAs should happen all year.

Rochester Hills City Council member District 4
One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Thomas W. Wiggins
Age: 47
Occupation: Financial Advisor
Municipality of residence: Rochester Hills
For how long: 10-year resident
Previously held elected office: None
Education: Graduate School-Walsh College, Masters Degree-Master of Science in Management (M.S.M.), Certified Financial Planner Practitioner TM, Undergraduate Degree-Central Michigan University, Major:Communications, Minors:Marketing and Business Administration
Top goals: 1) Repairing and maintaining roads is an ongoing challenge. We need to continue to leverage state and local resources while exploring the most viable options long-term; 2) The city’s strong financial health is actually a good problem to have but requires continued diligence to ensure today’s decisions are best for the future; and 3) Striking the right balance between the economic vitality of a growing community like Rochester Hills and the quality of life and sense of “hometown” that we enjoy today.

Proposal to Revise Permissible Uses of Green Space Millage
At the September 13, 2005 Primary Election, City of Rochester Hills voters approved a Proposal to provide funding to permanently preserve green spaces and natural features within the City “by funding the purchase of land and interests in land, and enabling the City to seek matching grant funds by levying a new millage of up to 0.3 mills.” It is proposed to revise the permissible use of tax revenues derived from this millage to authorize it to be used to fund the protection, care and maintenance of, and to improve pedestrian accessibility to and within, green spaces and natural features owned, acquired or controlled by the City, in addition to funding the purchase of land and interests in land.

Therefore, shall the permissible use of tax revenues derived from the green space millage be revised to authorize it to be used to fund the protection, care and maintenance of, and to improve pedestrian accessibility to and within, green spaces and natural features owned, acquired or controlled by the City, in addition to funding the purchase of land and interests in land? If approved, this proposal will not authorize any new or additional tax or renewal of any current tax.