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Grosse Pointe Farms

January 16, 2013

Two candidates to vie for council seat in special Farms election

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The City Council last year approved holding a special election Feb. 26 to fill the late Joseph Leonard’s seat, as long as they could get at least two candidates to run for office.

Wish granted — but just barely. Although there were nine applicants vying for appointment to the seat last fall when the council was still mulling that possibility, as of the application deadline Jan. 7, City Manager/City Clerk Shane Reeside said there were only two candidates whose names would be on the ballot: Liz Vogel and Joe Ricci. During a City Council meeting that evening, Reeside said their petition signatures had been approved, and Vogel and Ricci would both be on the single-issue ballot.

“Good luck to you both,” City Council member Louis Theros said.

Vogel, a lifelong Farms resident, ran a strong write-in campaign in November 2011, getting almost 600 votes, even though her name wasn’t on the ballot at that time.

“Ever since that election, I’ve only been working harder to get more involved,” said Vogel, who has been an active member of the new Communications Committee for the past year. The committee has been focusing on overhauling and streamlining the city’s website to make it more user-friendly and easier to update. A new website is expected to be introduced sometime this year.

“I think that it’s really important for younger voters to get involved,” said Vogel, who’s 30. “You want a stake in your community.”

Improving communications between the city and its residents was one of the platforms on which Vogel ran in 2011, after her home and many others were hit by massive sewage backups and a number of residents criticized officials for not adequately sharing vital information with them.

Vogel is a former vice president of the Hill Association, served on the Racing for Kids Steering Committee from 2010-11 and the 2011 Grosse Pointe Public Library’s Library Services Working Committee, and she is a Grosse Pointe Historical Society trustee. In addition, Vogel teaches catechism at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, is a volunteer reading tutor at Grace Community Church, and has been a member of the Mount Clemens Rotary since 2011.

A former marketing director who now works as an executive assistant for beer wholesaler Pettitpren Inc., she has a bachelor’s degree in history from Albion College and a master’s degree in modern European history from Loyola University Chicago. She said her passion for her community prompted her to run for office, and she has been attending council meetings regularly to keep up with city issues.

Ricci is a 30-year Farms resident who received a master’s degree in occupational psychology from the University of Michigan in 1976. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and in an email interview, he said that he has “successfully operated six different (auto) dealerships in six different communities over the past 30-plus years, with annual sales of over $60 million.”

Although Ricci hasn’t run for public office before, he has been elected to business groups, including being chosen as president of the Jeep National Dealer Council for the United States, president of his condo association and president for 15 years of the Metro Detroit Jeep Dealers Advertising Association.

“I decided to run for council because I’m at a point in my life where I want to give back to the community, which has been so good to my family and myself,” Ricci said by email. “I love our community and I’m committed to continue making Grosse Pointe Farms one of the best and safest places to live. Although the city is in great shape, I also believe the next 10 years will present a new set of challenges.”

He said he feels his business background makes him a good council candidate.

“I can look at issues in their true form and make judgments based on facts, not emotions,” Ricci said. “I’m a very fair and honest person and believe everyone should be treated equally and with respect. … I understand budgets, labor issues and how to deal with city departments. I have both feet on the ground, and I am an excellent negotiator.”

Eligible voters who aren’t currently registered to vote must register no later than Jan. 28 to cast a ballot in the special election. To check one’s registration status, visit the City Clerk’s Office or log onto www.michigan.gov/vote. Absentee ballots will also soon be available from the City Clerk’s Office. For more information, visit www.ci.grosse-pointe-farms.mi.us or call (313) 885-6600.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.