Royal Oak, Clawson to vote on ordinance, city officials

Royal Oak Review | Published October 23, 2013

In addition to their city representatives, on Nov. 5, Royal Oak voters will decide the fate of a human rights ordinance, and Clawson residents will vote on an increase to the city’s rubbish millage. 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.


Royal Oak Mayor

One candidate is running for one two-year term.

Jim Ellison (I)
Age: 61
Occupation: Business Development, Royal Oak Recycling
Municipality of residence: Royal Oak
For how long: 61 years
Education: Kimball High School, Class of 1970
Previous held elected offices: City Commission 1991-1995
Top goals: The city commission must address legacy costs. Over the past ten years we have structurally changed our labor contracts by eliminating defined benefit plans and retiree health care in most bargaining units for new hires, but the existing costs remain, There is a growing movement to bond for existing costs that the city must explore as well as other funding options.
We have started a program to reinvest in our recreational facilities by budgeting money for play equipment in our parks, which has not be doable due to budget constraints in the past. This program must continue.
The cities streets are in dire need of improvement. The current funding of roads via state taxes will not yield enough funding top get the job started. Following on the tails of a recent intensive study of the condition of our roads, the city commission has started the process of finding funding options.

Royal Oak City Commission

Four candidates are running for three four-year terms.

David Poulton (I)
Age: 41
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence:  Royal Oak
For how long: 9 years
Education: Bachelor’s Degree: University of Michigan Law Degree: Michigan State University
Previously held elected offices: Royal Oak City Commission 2009-present
Top goals:Public Safety

I am committed to ensuring Royal Oak remains safe and secure by maintaining highly skilled and trained Fire/E.M.S. and Police personnel and working to bring redevelopment to the sites of existing motels.
City Finances

As City Commissioner, I worked with city unions to resolve all contracts and save millions for taxpayers without sacrificing city services.  I remain committed to prioritizing our budget to fund city services in the most efficient manner possible and will continue to oppose wasteful expenditures.

Our residents have a right to know what their elected officials are doing and how their tax dollars are being spent, so I will continue to insist that all City business is posted timely to allow residents an opportunity to review and provide comments on issues that may impact them. I also pledge to hold city officials to the highest ethical standards.

For more information, please visit

Jeremy Mahrle
Age: 32
Occupation: Outreach Coordinator & Veterans Caseworker for Congressman Sander Levin
Municipality of residence: Royal Oak
For how long: 32 years
Education: Attended Royal Oak Schools and Oakland University
Previously held elected offices: Precinct Delegate
Top goals: I would like to see downtown made more family-friendly with the development of a downtown park as called for in our Master Plan, continued implementation of our non-motorized vehicle plan to make our streets more walkable and pedestrian-friendly, and – most importantly – keep providing quality city services so those moving here, and those already here, will stay and invest in their homes and in the community. The tough decisions will be surrounding the financial realities of these goals. We must do what we can, with what we have.

We need to keep our neighborhoods strong and safe, maintain our parks and playgrounds, responsibly grow and diversify our downtown, and protect our community assets like the Public Library, the Senior Center, and the Farmers Market.  If we do this, I will consider my time as your City Commissioner a success. I encourage readers to visit my website at to read more.

Sharlan Douglas
Age: 61
Occupation: Public relations consultant
Municipality of residence: Royal Oak
For how long: 20 years
Education: BA, Journalism, Michigan State University. Completed course work for a master’s degree in urban planning at Wayne State University.
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: I want to see our home values continue to grow. We’ll accomplish that by maintaining our solid neighborhood services and following the elements of the master plan that will make our city more walkable and bikeable. We must keep our downtown vibrant, to appeal to the young people who are ideal prospective buyers for our smaller homes and condos.

I’d like to see an economic development program in the city. We need to help new businesses navigate city hall. We should practice economic gardening, working with existing businesses to understand, meet and even anticipate their needs. We should seek creative scenarios to make it advantageous for developers to purchase and redevelop the sites of marginal motels.

The recent resident surveys provide an objective understanding of what people want and need. Now I’d like to see us more vigorously use traditional and new communications tools to better engage our residents and businesses.

Diane K. Hargan
Age: 56
Occupation: Licensed Veterinary Technician and bookkeeper
Municipality of Residence: Royal Oak
For How Long: A little over 30 years
Education: Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology, General Associate degree, Licensed Medical First Responder
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: My highest priority will be to work with other commission members in order to find a long term solution for our unfunded liabilities. I cannot develop a strategy for this issue until I am a sitting commissioner and have full access and a clear picture of all revenues and expenditures.

I would like to see a more balanced downtown with fewer bars and more family friendly businesses. A good start would be to cut down the number of liquor licenses ( perhaps through attrition ).

I will evaluate infrastructure and prioritize roads, buildings, etc. in order to come up with a long term plan that continues to move us forward.

Clawson Mayor

One candidate is running for one two-year term.

Penny Luebs (I)
Age: 59
Occupation: Social Worker, Clinical Supervisor at Easter Seals Michigan
Municipality of Residence: Clawson
For how long: 33 years
Education:  Master’s Degree in Social Work (LMSW) from Eastern Michigan University
Previously held elected offices: Clawson City Councilman 2003-2007; Clawson Mayor 2007 to present
Top goals: I love our sense of community with great neighborhoods, restaurants and shops. I work hard to create positive relationships with residents, businesses and staff. I will continue to focus on providing top of the line service through great customer contact and services. Our opportunity for success begins with a balanced budget to maintain city services of police, fire, parks, library, supporting businesses, environmental sustainability (including recycling) and to keep our roads and sewers in good repair for a reasonable tax. My focus is on our vision of where we are headed and a review of where we actually are. Each city has its own character. In a broad sense this is placemaking and paying attention to details. Planning trends include pedestrian and biking paths, a process for aging in place, art involvement and the ability to leverage placemaking with neighborhood planning, retail development and engaging the public in our discussions.


Clawson City Council

Three candidates are running for two four-year terms

Thomas A. Palmer (I)
Age: 71
Occupation: Retired
Municipality of residence: Clawson
For how long: 47 years
Education: High school graduate
Top goals: I am 71 years old, retired, and have been married to my wife Jean for 48 years. We have 2 sons and 3 grandchildren. I have been a resident of Clawson for 47 years and have had the honor to serve on the City Council since 1973. I feel I bring a great amount of experience and knowledge of dealing with different situations as they arise. I am running because I like being involved with our community. I think we have managed our finances well and have made significant improvements to our infrastructure. I would like to continue in this direction and help Clawson to grow and remain the great community it is.

My priorities are to maintain current city services, continue to improve our infrastructure, and parks recreation facilities. I plan to accomplish this by continuing to work with our administration, the schools and our citizens.

Jim Horton
Age: 56
Occupation: Retired Postmaster / Clawson Firefighter
Municipality of residence: Clawson
For how long: 30 Years
Education: Graduated Royal Oak Dondero High, Royal Oak MI; Oakland Fire Academy; USPS Bolger Leadership Academy - Norman OK
Previously held elected offices: Clawson City Council
Top goals: DDA/Pedestrian Islands

I voted to restart the DDA in the late 90’s and envisioned much of what you see today. Restaurants with outdoor seating and a downtown with businesses to shop and enjoy. Each of the proposed Pedestrian Islands should be looked at individually for cost, safety and usefulness. The island proposed in front of 255 w. 14 mile seems to make sense.

Keep our OWN City Services / Police, Fire, DPW

Clawson has a PROUD history of excellent city services that are known throughout neighboring communities. I will work closely with the City Manager to continue providing excellent services which make us all proud at a fair cost.
Work closely with our schools and city boards/commissions

Clawson must work tirelessly to keep our young families here in Clawson by providing excellent sports and recreation areas at our City park and other vacant school properties.

Deborah Lynn Wooley
Age: 49
Occupation:  IT Analyst
Municipality of residence: Clawson
For how long:  38 Years
Education: Attended Oakland University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: My concerns are the same as yours. I am a homeowner and my children attend our schools. I want a thriving downtown with activities to meet all of our needs. I also feel it is important to maintain and improve on our existing resources: our park, football field, track, tennis courts and other community areas. 
Residents should be provided with information. I would request that city committees update the community at City Council Meetings. In addition, implement an automated electronic mail system where residents can elect to receive information according to their interests.

Continue to find creative solutions to ensure the city’s fiscal viability  A recycling initiative could address the trash pick-up budget shortfall, thereby eliminating the future millage need.

Support a business friendly atmosphere to promote development in Clawson. Encourage city departments and committees to provide information effectively and efficiently utilizing technology when appropriate. Please contact me at www.DebWooley


Royal Oak human rights ordinance

An Ordinance to amend the Code of the City of Royal Oak to prohibit discrimination based upon actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental limitation, source of income, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status, and to provide penalties for the violation thereof.

Royal Oak City Charter amendments

Charter amendment “Proposal 1”

Currently, the City Charter at Chapter Three, Section 3, restricts eligibility for Mayor or Commissioner to persons who first has attained the age of 25 at the time of election.

The proposed amendment, if adopted, would allow anyone to serve as Mayor or Commissioner who has attained the age of 21 at the time of election and who is otherwise eligible.

Shall the proposal be adopted?

Charter amendment “Proposal 2”

Currently, the City Charter at Chapter Three, Section 3, restricts eligibility for Mayor or Commissioner to persons who are freeholders of the city (real estate property owners).

Due to various court rulings holding that freeholder eligibility requirements for elective office violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Michigan and Federal constitutions this freeholder eligibility clause is currently unenforceable.

The proposed amendment, if adopted, would eliminate this requirement in the City Charter at Chapter Three, Section 3, for Mayor and Commissioner. Shall the proposal be adopted?

Charter amendment “Proposal 3”

Currently, Chapter Three, Section 15 and Chapter Ten, Section 1, of the City Charter requires the City Commission to appoint the City Assessor. And, Chapter Three, Section 15 of the City Charter also requires the City Commission to appoint the City Treasurer. The proposed amendment, if adopted, would allow the City Manager to appoint the City Treasurer and City Assessor.

Shall the proposal be adopted?

Royal Oak Schools operating millage renewal

This proposal, if approved by the electors, will allow the School District of the City of Royal Oak to continue to levy the number of operating mills required for the School District to receive revenues at the full per pupil foundation allowance permitted by the State of Michigan.

Shall the limitation on the total amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, situated within the School District of the City of Royal Oak, County of Oakland, State of Michigan, be increased as provided in the Michigan Constitution, in the amount of 18 mills ($18.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), and against all principal residences and other property not exempted by law, by 3.4 mills ($3.40 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), both millages to be for a period of seven (7) years, from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2021, inclusive with the above 18 mills and the above 3.40 mills (which is a reduction from the 3.5030 mills previously authorized by the electors) being a renewal of millage which would otherwise expire on December 31, 2013? These operating millages if approved and levied, would provide estimated revenues to the School District of Eighteen Million Eight Hundred Thousand ($18,800,000) Dollars during the 2014 calendar year, to be used for general operating purposes.

Clawson rubbish millage

Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the City of Clawson be increased by 0.8482 mills ($0.85 per thousand dollars of taxable value) in perpetuity beginning in 2014, as new additional millage in excess of the limitation imposed by Michigan Compiled Laws section 211.34d, to restore previously authorized millage as reduced by operation of the Headlee amendment, to provide funds for garbage and rubbish collection and disposal services? It is estimated that 0.8482 mills would raise approximately $265,000 when first levied in 2014.