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Valerie Kindle takes seat as new council member

HARPER WOODS — Valerie Kindle believes in community involvement, in everyone working together to make a difference and working through the tough times.

It’s not just something she believes in — she lives it through years of community service and participation by attending meetings, serving on committees and more.

Her dedication to Harper Woods garnered her the support of the City Council when it was looking for a new council member to fill the vacancy left by former Council member John Szymanski’s resignation.

“She’s a very good listener, an excellent communicator,” Mayor Ken Poynter said. “While Valerie has agreed with us on many occasions, she also disagrees with us on some occasions. It’s always been done in a respectful manner.”

Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Costantino said Kindle was well-prepared for the Sept. 24 session where they interviewed the candidates who stepped up for the seat.

“She knew what was going on in the city,” Costantino said.

“She had ideas for what to do to help the city financially,” she said, adding that she had ideas for augmenting the city’s budget. “That was impressive. I think she was fiscally the strongest candidate. … She just really was in touch with the community and in touch with what we need in the city.”

Costantino also liked how positive Kindle has been in her interactions at meetings.  

Candidates had until Sept. 19 to submit their letter of interest to the city for the vacancy that would run through the November 2013 election.  Four candidates submitted their names, but only three attended the meeting.

At the Sept. 24 meeting, council chose Kindle and swore her into her new position at the council table. The field of candidates stepping up to fill a City Council vacancy wasn’t short on involved residents, but Kindle received a unanimous vote of the five council members at the meeting. 

Susan Uhl and Veronica Paiz, two residents who also have been actively involved in the city, interviewed for the seat, as well. 

This is the second time in recent months that the council had to find a replacement council member.

Szymanski, a long-term council member, had to resign after taking on a new career opportunity that conflicted time-wise with council meetings. His announcement came one month after the board voted to appoint Hugh Marshall to fill the seat vacated by longtime Council member Michael Monaghan, who moved from the city.

Kindle has a history of stepping up, including serving on the Planning Commission and Ordinance Committee.

“Any committee that needs somebody, needs input,” she said, adding that she has been attending the council meetings since moving to the city about 10 years ago.

She has always loved taking part in the city and enjoys the small town feel that she’s experienced.

She thinks giving back to the city is important.

“If more of us would step up to serve, our city would be in better shape,” Kindle said.

Kindle recently ran for the local state representative post, but didn’t receive enough votes to move on in the race after the primary.

“I’ve always wanted to help, and when that didn’t pan out and this became available, it seemed like a natural progression,” Kindle said. “I kept being encouraged by everybody.”

She’s hoping to offer a different perspective on the council. She understands the dire financial situation the city has been tackling and thinks maybe she can provide some new ideas.