West BloomfieldAugust 17, 2012
Township board members reconsider unity if elected
By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
WEST BLOOMFIELD — The township’s next Board of Trustees is not set in stone yet, but the voting public’s support for incumbents is leading some officials to take a fresh look at working together.
After the Aug. 7 state primary election, all of the current board members except Trustee Gene Farber have survived so far. The candidates for clerk and treasurer will be unopposed in November, but the remaining incumbent trustees will compete against Republican Tom Pustelak. Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste is expecting a challenge from former Supervisor David Flaisher, an independent.
Even if the next township board has a lot of familiar faces, Ureste said she is hopeful that the members will experience more unity than in the past. She said one trustee already reached out to her, and she called the experience “very positive.”
“We worked together, and we learned how to work together with the community’s best interest in mind,” Ureste said, “I’m optimistic that the board will be able to work together over the next four years to make some positive change in the community in the areas that we need some more improvement.”
In 2008, voters swept out the previous township board for seven different officials, and only one of the replacements — Trustee Steven Kaplan — had sat on the board for a previous term.
While the winning candidates had originally expressed wishes to work together, voting factions soon developed, which resulted in many 4-3 votes. For example, Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy and trustees Larry Brown, Gene Farber and Howard Rosenberg frequently blocked Ureste’s desire to replace a member of the Planning Commission with her own pick.
In 2010, Ureste and Kaplan took the township and those four board members to court on a separate issue. The plaintiffs said they wanted to have a judge rule on whether the defendants violated the law while taking such board actions as picking a police chief. A Circuit Court judge and a Court of Appeals panel ultimately sided with the defendants.
Other township board members also said they are looking forward to letting bygones be bygones.
Brown said he felt like the public has vindicated him during the Aug. 7 election despite facing political attacks throughout his first term.
“Hopefully, the new board can work together in harmony rather than in discord going forward,” he said. “I just hope that we can all work forward going together. We need to put everything behind us and start over.”
Shaughnessy called herself an “eternal optimist” who wakes up every day believing that things will be a bit better than yesterday. But she pointed out that she and her colleagues managed to achieve many goals during their terms despite any disagreements.
“We have four or five movers and shakers up there,” she said, “and we’re going to keep on moving and shaking it.”
Learn more about the West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees at www.wbtwp.com.
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