Voters decide on city council races and school operating millage

Southfield Sun | Published October 23, 2013

In the Sun’s coverage area, voters will decide Southfield and Lathrup Village city council members on Nov. 5. They will also decide on a Southfield Public Schools’ operating millage renewal. Below is the exact millage proposal language 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 the answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Southfield City Council

Seven candidates are running for four terms;. The three highest vote-getters earn four-year terms; the fourth highest vote-getter earns a two-year term.

Sunsaria Baldwin
Age: 44
Occupation: Self Employeed
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 10 plus
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Adminitration
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1 & 2. Business Retention and Attraction – Patronize local businesses, conduct surveys. Utilize better marketing strategies, maximize on incentives, promote a citizens committee to be engaged in decision making, assess aging infrastructures for redevelopment, address zoning and code enforcement ordinances for simplified processing, and build strong Oakland County partnerships.
3. Security and Safety – Support our Police and Fire Departments with appropriate staffing, training, and first rate equipment. Aggressively seek legislation to deregulate energy so that our residents have alternative resources for lower rates and reduce public health issues. Increase property assessment for clean energy. Ensure homeowners are not overvalued in property tax. Repair existing infrastructures.

Lloyd C. Crews
Age: 39
Occupation: Dean of Campus Affairs – Oakland Community College
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 7 years
Education: BA/MA in Political Science (Clark Atlanta University), Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (Wayne State University)
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Southfield is a city that is too good not to be great! As a member of council, I will lead aggressive collaborations related to economic development. I will work with community organizations to support a targeted plan to attract choice restaurants and businesses to our city. I will work with local real estate agencies and brokers to create joint marketing efforts with the city to attract homeowners. Telling the great story of Southfield will help market the city and grow the economy. I will collaborate with neighborhood associations to review city codes and solidify a Southfield Standard. In addition to working to increase resources for public safety, I will continue support for neighborhood watch programs. I will work tirelessly to lead innovative ways to respond to an ever-changing world and focus the city on the future.  Visit or to read more about my background and endorsements.

Donald F. Fracassi (I)
Age: Born March, 1935
Occupation: Southfield businessman for more than 50 years (Don’s Town & Country Mkt. retired), Real Estate, Communications, Marketing
Municipality of residence:  I have lived in the same house in Southfield since 1963
Education: Educated at Cranbrook School, University of Detroit and L.T.U.
Previously held elected offices: Southfield Councilman 1967 to 1972
Southfield Mayor for 30 years, 1972 to 2001
Southfield Councilman 2003 to present
Council President for 4 years.
Top goals: Re-development, Taxes, Home Foreclosures, Insuring excellent Police and Fire Services, Code compliance, Home values, and continued quality City Services. These surface as the major issues with which the City Council must deal. Careful planning, finding new sources of revenue, and communication with all residents on a regular basis are musts in meeting these goals.
Taxes must be lowered, spending curtailed, home values protected, neighborhoods kept free of blight, and new creative ways found to continue to provide the exceptional services Southfield enjoys.
Having served the City as Mayor and Councilman has provided me with the knowledge and experience needed to meet these challenges.  My proven record of experience, ability and integrity will be an asset as I proudly continue to work for the citizens of Southfield.

Myron Frasier (I)
Age: Born September 1938
Occupation: Retired from Ameritech (AT&T) as Director of Network Technical Training for Ameritech (MI, IL, IN, OH, WI).
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: Moved to Southfield in 1980
Education: Graduated Otsego, MI high school.  Graduated Radio Electronics Television School (RETS) training program. Some college.
Previously held elected offices: Southfield City Council appointed and elected to office since 1992.
Top goals: The highest priority is a safe, secure, attractive city. I support appropriate funding for police, fire, EMS and code enforcement staffing, equipment and training. This also includes staffing and training for the balance of the staff as our revenues permit without using our “rainy day” fund to balance the budget.
Create a sense of place by upgrading the infrastructure to create a walkable, pedestrian friendly center city in the Town Center/Civic Center campus. Continue to work with developers, LTU and small business owners to redevelop vacant land and upgrade obsolete buildings to attract new businesses in all parts of the city.
Support the creation of a public arts council Encourage upgrading of our housing stock and work with residents to increase and strengthen neighborhood associations.  Strong schools attract families. I will continue to be a bridge between the city and schools.
You can follow me on face book at

Michael Ari Mandelbaum
Age: 31
Occupation: Sr. Analyst, Health Care Reform, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; Lead Instructor, Business Courses, MJI
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 18 years (born and raised in Southfield)
Education: MBA, Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Public Safety/Roads – Putting families first, I’ll prioritize strong training for Southfield officers to ensure fast response times, staffing and proper equipment to serve all neighborhoods. Using my finance background, I’ll collaborate with Public Works to fix roads, sidewalks and sewers, finding cost-effective, lasting infrastructure improvements. Lower water bills.
Economy – We must create more good paying jobs. I’ll work to enhance education and training, encouraging job opportunities for skilled and professional workers, collaborating with local schools and colleges to keep residents working in Southfield. I’ll work with realtors to attract new businesses that can use Southfield’s vast resources to thrive.  
Honest, Transparent Government – Preserving valuable and vital public services to our community is a priority. I will hold government accountable and be transparent to its citizens. Residents will know where and how money is spent. I’ll streamline processes so residents have less bureaucracy and an easier time getting what they need. 

Joan Seymour (I)
Age: Not provided
Occupation: Investor
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 40 yrs.
Education: Cass Tech, Wayne State
Previously held elected offices: City Council, Southfield
Top goals: As the local economy picks up, I will press for hiring more Police Officers. In the meantime, I will insist on the best equipment, technology and other tools to do the job of protecting the public and police officers.
Consistent with my many years of service on the Council Finance Committee, I will continue to support proper budgeting and accounting practices, so that we never have to have layoffs of Police Officers and Firefighters or have other financial problems that would reduce the quality of life of our residents.
I will support vigorous Code Enforcement to maintain and even improve the appearance, attractiveness, and curb appeal of our City. This includes creating a more extensive and aggressive effort at both acquainting new residents with our Community Standards and reinforcing those high standards with current residents. Property owners and renters alike would be involved and I would declare war on litter.

Kenson J. Siver (I)
Age: 67
Occupation: Retired Southfield Public Schools Administrator
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 47 years
Education: :  I hold a BA from Oakland University & a MA and Doctorate from Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: Elected to the Southfield City Council in 2001, 2005, 2009
Top goals: In my next term on Southfield City Council I will continue working to maintain a balanced budget with the assistance of grant funds and other new sources of revenue. We need to promote new development in the city to strengthen our tax base and pursue grants that can enhance our budget. Public safety and road repairs are two key areas that we can enhance and maintain through grant revenues. In line with this is marketing. We need to double our marketing efforts, particularly in electronic mediums and through civic events that appeal to a wide variety of tastes and interests.  Thirdly, Southfield has seen a rise in the number of rental homes and some decline in maintenance of apartment complexes. I will push for rental property inspections and greater accountability of landlords for property maintenance. Additionally, we need to strengthen the city’s rental home registry efforts.


Southfield Mayor

One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Brenda L. Lawrence (I)
Age: 58
Occupation: Mayor
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 29 years
Education: Central Michigan University-BS Degree
Previously held elected offices: Southfield School Board Trustee, Southfield City Council, and currently Mayor since 2001.
Top goals: 1) Our aging roads and infrastructure have become a challenge to maintain — we must continue to look at any and all potential remedies to this critical issue.
2). As a result of declining property values and revenue sharing cuts the City of Southfield must find new revenues, increase efficiency by maximizing technology and enter into collaborations with other municipalities and agencies to continue to provide the services.
3) After surviving the economic crisis, the City of Southfield is focused on economic development to grow our local economy — this is a priority to the City of Southfield. The City of Southfield must enact ordinances and policies that encourage economic development and embrace immigration to grow our city and promote economic development.


Southfield City Clerk

One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Nancy Banks (I)
Age: 58
Occupation: Southfield City Clerk
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 58 years
Education: Master Municipal Clerk - International Institute of Municipal Clerks; Certified Election Director - Michigan State University Municipal Clerk’s Institute: Political Science - Oakland Community College; Graduate Michigan Political Leadership Program and Michigan Municipal League Elected Officials Academy.
Previously held elected offices: Southfield City Clerk
Top goals: Maintaining a high level of customer care with a reduction in staff through attrition has been challenging. By fully embracing and adapting new and advanced technology, we can assist our staff in maintaining the highest level of productivity and customer satisfaction that we continuously strive to produce!
Continue to successfully administer elections within the City of Southfield by utilizing and training our election workers on the latest technology available and being aware of any new legislation that will effect elections.
Continue to assist in maintaining a balanced budget by watching over expenditures that have been approved by Council.

Southfield City Treasurer

One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Irv M. Lowenberg
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Lathrup Village City Council

Six candidates are running for three terms; the two highest vote-getters earn four-year terms, and the third highest vote-getter earns a two-year term.

Frank M. Brock Jr. (I)
Age: 73
Occupation: Vice President of Government Relations for St. John Providence Health System - Retired
Municipality of residence: City of Lathrup Village
For how long: 36 years
Education: Michigan State University
Previously held elected offices: Councilman, City of Lathrup Village, and Mayor of City of Lathrup Village
Top goals: The most important issues for Lathrup Village are Economic Development and Redevelopment; Refinement and implementation of the City Master Plan; Continued improvement and replacement of aging City Infrastructure and the continuation of sound fiscal management and resources for the benefit of the community.
Bruce Copus
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

April L. Siebert
Age: 46
Occupation: Department Manager in Quality Management
Municipality of residence: Lathrup Village
For how long: 2 years
Education: BA in Political Science, MA in Criminal Justice
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Public Safety – I believe public safety is everyone’s responsibility, but we must also have trust that when needed, the police will be ready, willing, and proactive in ensuring public safety. I also believe we will need neighbor buy-in to foster a sense of mutual responsibility for safety among neighbors and periodic neighborhood training forums on public safety issues. I hope to keep the City of Lathrup a family-friendly safe community.
Help Small Businesses – I want to encourage city council to be more responsive to the needs of local merchants. Our local businesses provide jobs and services that are integral in helping Lathrup Village thrive. To ensure this continues, our city council needs to find ways to help these businesses succeed.
Budget – The city may have a balanced budget but we must continue to stretch our dollars and prioritize the best use of city revenues. We must continue to pursue grants (…)

Peter Heinrich Stephan
Age: 58
Occupation: Senior Industry Marketing and Program Manager for FANUC America Corp.
Municipality of residence: Lathrup Village
For how long: Living in Lathrup Village since 1988
Education: Not provided.
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Home Maintenance – Determine via a community wide survey the primary home improvement the homeowner desires, i.e paint, gutters, roofing, HVAC. Once the information is collected we will inform homeowners of the contractors that are willing to participate in a group buy of the improvement(s) desired.
City Center – Rally commercial property owners via the DDA to create a core magnet commercial center that will draw residents and visitors. The commercial center would focus on food stuffs, pharmacy, and a café to socialize in. It is here where attention can be drawn to other services and goods that are available in Lathrup Village.
Resident Involvement – Encourage residents to be involved in the community by participating in council sessions (twice a month), volunteering for community events (see Lathrup Village calendar), policing their homes (trash, grass cutting, weed removal), and keeping a watchful eye out for what may be criminal (OWL).
Maria Mannarino Thompson
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Stephanie Grimes Washington
Age: 42
Occupation: Political Consultant
Municipality of residence: Lathrup Village
For how long: 12 years
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science – Villanova University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: The 3 issues I will focus on are Economic Development, maintaining and enhancing Property Values and Public Safety. As a business development and marketing professional, I will lead a task force that will target a range of businesses that fit the needs and wants of our community while maintaining the integrity of the Lathrup Village culture and environment. Each business interested in participating will be required to submit proposals with comprehensive criteria that adhere to maintaining The Lathrup Village culture and will be analyzed on a cost, trend and public revenue boosting perspective. I will also work towards a plan to freshen the appearance of the current store fronts and the business district in our community. I will work to provide homeowners with the efficient city services that assist them in keeping their properties and neighborhood clean, safe and beautiful. 

Renewal of the Southfield Public Schools Operating Millage

This proposal would renew expiring authority of the Southfield Public Schools to levy mills for general operating purposes. Under this proposal, due to current enrollment projections and statutory exemptions, principal residences, qualified agricultural property, industrial personal property and other property to the extent not otherwise exempt for this purpose under State law would be partially exempt from the 18 mill levy, and the School District would continue to be eligible to receive full per pupil revenue permitted by law.

As a renewal of authority which expires with the 2014 levy, shall the limitation on the taxes which may be levied upon taxable property in the Southfield Public Schools, Oakland County, Michigan, be increased by 18.00 mills ($18.00 per $1,000 of taxable value) for six years, the years 2015 to 2020, inclusive, to provide funds for operating expenses of the District? Of the 18.00 mills, no more than 17.6345 mills ($17.6345 per $1,000 of taxable value) may be levied on principal residences, qualified agricultural property and industrial personal property. This authorization would allow the District to raise through levy an estimated $ 41 million in operating revenue in 2015.