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Grosse Pointes

October 23, 2013

Voters to decide local elections in Grosse Pointes

Voters in the Pointes will be heading to the polls Nov. 5 to cast ballots in local races. Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. that day. Contact your local city clerk’s office for more information about poll locations, or visit your city’s website.

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.

For additional information about the candidates, the League of Women Voters of Grosse Pointe is offering a free voter guide and information about polling places online at www.VOTE411.org. For more information, call (313) 881-6343 or visit www.grossepointe.mi.lwvnet.org.

Grosse Pointe City Mayor
One candidate is running for a two-year term.

Dale N. Scrace (I)
Age: 65
Occupation: Architect and Project Manager
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe
For how long: 41 years
Education: BS in Architecture
Previously held elected offices: 12 years a City Councilman and 12 years as mayor
Top goals: In my seventh term I hope to continue to work to improve Fisher Road and Mack Avenue retail. Continue to focus the efforts of the council on the Village. We have an active DDA that has assumed the marketing and events management for the Village. I work very closely with the GP Chamber of Commerce for the betterment of the greater Grosse Pointe community.

The City of Grosse Pointe council, staff and mayor continues to work to provide the services that our residents demand while creating a budget that reflects reduced revenues. We continue to work to reduce our legacy cost and explore the possibility of merging our Public Safety departments with Grosse Pointe Park. We are about a year into the review of full study of the issues prepared by our third party consultants and possible structure that this merger could talk. We achieved our first step with the contracting of our dispatch by Grosse Pointe Park. …

 

Grosse Pointe City Council
Three candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Donald J. Parthum Jr. (I)
Did not respond before press time.

Christopher D. Walsh (I)
Did not respond before press time.

Jean MacDonald Weipert (I)
Age: 52
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence:  City of Grosse Pointe
For how long: 22 years
Education: Northwestern University (B.S. in Journalism); University of Michigan Law School (J.D.)
Previously held elected offices: Council member, City of Grosse Pointe since 2001
Top goals: My top three priorities are the following: 1. Continue to address current budget issues caused by the steep drop in tax revenue by proactively looking for smart cost savings while facing the reality that revenues will have to increase to maintain the level of service that our residents expect and deserve. 2. Encourage and support redevelopment in the Village and other commercial districts which is consistent with our Master Plan and the needs and desires of the community by maintaining an open for business attitude within the City. 3. Improve communication between the City and its residents and other stakeholders.

 

Grosse Pointe Farms Mayor
One candidate is running for a two-year term.

James C. Farquhar (I)
Did not respond before press time.

 

Grosse Pointe Farms City Council
Four candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Louis Theros (I)
Age: 49
Occupation: Shareholder, Vice President, Director, Butzel Long
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 14 years
Education: University of Michigan (BA 1985); Vanderbilt School of Law (1989)
Previously held elected offices:  Farms City Council, 12 years; Mayor Pro Tem (2 years)
Top goals: 1. Continue providing “Best in Michigan” city services for lowest millage rate in the Pointes.

2. Continue improving/maintaining our infrastructure.

3. Continue funding of legacy costs.

We are fortunate to live in a fantastic community. While keeping taxes low, we have expanded and improved our services (e.g. curb-side leaf pickup; new marina; new community building). Infrastructure improvements must be made yearly (e.g. streets, water system) or else we’ll fall too far behind to maintain them. We budget funds yearly to fund these improvements. Additionally, as an audit and budget committee member, we implemented a 5-year capital plan whereby each department budgets their capital improvements. Finally, I spent 11 years on the employee pension commissions. Our pensions are fully (public safety) or near fully (general employee) funded. We contribute to our retiree health care to avoid future unfunded liabilities. I look forward to serving the Farms for another 4 years.

Elizabeth M. Vogel
Age: 31
Occupation: Executive Assistant at Beer Wholesaler, Petitpren Inc.
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 25 years
Education: B.A., Albion College (2004), M.A. Loyola University Chicago (2009)
Previously held elected offices: None.
Top goals: Create a comprehensive strategic five and ten year plan that would set benchmarks for all departments. A strategic plan would be accomplished through dedicated committee work. This would also better prepare the city for any future discussions regarding opportunities to save monies through consolidation of services.

Find a resolution for residents who were and are still financially affected by the sewer system failure of 2011 and actively pursue timely investments in our infrastructure to prevent further events.

Continue to improve upon government transparency with timely communication to residents; avenues for success include consistent updating of information and documents on the new city website—a project completed recently by the communications committee in which I presently serve. Increased use of all forms of communication tools to better serve the needs of residents.

Peter W. Waldmeir (I)
Age: 60
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 21 years
Education: JD, George Washington Law (1978); BA, Summa Cum Laude, University of Michigan (1975)
Previously held elected offices: Grosse Pointe Farms City Council 1995-2001, 2003- 2013; Grosse Pointe City City Council, 1989-1993.
Top goals: 1. Continue to maintain the lowest millage rate in all of the Grosse Pointes (i) by continuing to exercise strong, fiscally conservative and responsible city management, and (ii) by continuing to pursue joint-municipal initiatives which reduce local costs and promote shared community interests at a time when property tax revenues have been flat with limited annual growth.

2. Continue to support and enhance our strong Public Safety Department by providing our officers with the means, methods and equipment necessary to deter crime and to protect our residents of all ages in a welcoming but watchful environment.

3. Continue to provide Farms residents with the exceptional City services and amenities to which they have become accustomed by continuing to (i) maintain and enhance our infrastructure, (ii) enforce compliance with our zoning and traffic ordinances, (iii) work cooperatively with the GPF Foundation, and (iii) encourage a vibrant entertainment and business district(s).

Martin West (I)
Age: 65
Occupation: General Agent, AAA Michigan
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 32 years
Education: Bachelors and Masters Degree: Marquette University
Previously held elected offices: Councilman, Grosse Pointe Farms MI
Top goals: Our biggest challenge is to keep Grosse Pointe Farms the premier Grosse Pointe community in terms of services and amenities for residents with the lowest tax rate of the five Grosse Pointes.

We do this by carefully managing the budget and being creative in the use of personnel and expenditures.

We must continue to keep excellent management in place and work together as a council to achieve these goals.

Experience counts!

 

Grosse Pointe Farms/Shores Municipal Court Judge
Two candidates are running for a four-year term.

Matthew M. Peck
Age: 37
Occupation: Attorney / Partner at Fischer, Franklin & Ford
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 3 years in Grosse Pointe Farms, over 10 years in the Pointes
Education: Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, Wayne State University | Bachelor of Science, University of Michigan
Previously held elected offices: I have not previously held an elected office.
Top goals: If elected, I would like to review the courts’ existing processes and procedures in an effort to identify opportunities for improvement and ways to increase operating efficiencies. I would also work with the State of Michigan to explore ways of incorporating new technology to the municipal court in an effort to make the court more accessible to the public. I would also actively engage groups such as CARE of Southeast Michigan to provide counseling and educational classes to first time drug and alcohol offenders. By incorporating counseling into an appropriate sentence, these offenders will be able to learn about the damaging effects that drugs and alcohol can have upon them, their families and the community. The end goal is to provide these individuals with the education and resources necessary to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Matthew Robert Rumora (I)
Age: not given
Occupation: Grosse Pointe Farms and Shores Municipal Judge and Attorney in Private practice — 39 years in private practice
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 25 years Farms: Shores since 2011
Education: Michigan State University BA, University of Kentucky Juris Doctor
Previously held elected offices: Municipal court judge
Top goals: 1. I will continue to ensure the safety of our community by taking a tough stance on crime and by setting high bonds in cases where the offender poses a danger to the public.

2. Sometimes good people make bad decisions resulting in a court appearance. It may involve traffic tickets, substance abuse or problems at home. My goal is to get them back on the right path by enrolling them into one of the many programs that our court has available.

3. My goal to continue to give great service to the public. This will be accomplished by taking the bench promptly, treating the public with respect and dignity, and promptly responding to any complaints.

Visit our Website www.judgerumora.com

 

Grosse Pointe Park Mayor
One candidate is running for a two-year term.

Palmer T. Heenan (I)
Did not respond before press time.

 

Grosse Pointe Park City Council
Three candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Laurie Arora (I)
Age: 51
Occupation: Director of Member Relations, Greater Detroit Area Health Council
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Park
For how long: 23 years
Education: Fellow – Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Michigan State University; MBA-Finance, University of Detroit-Mercy; BS, Michigan State University
Previously held elected offices: City Council, Grosse Pointe Park
Top goals: With declining revenue and increasing costs, we must be creative with our fiscal solutions. My goals are the following: Ensure Grosse Pointe Park remains a safe community. I will work to maintain a robust Public Safety Department by exploring ideas that preserve quality services while reducing expenses.

Expand our tax base by attracting new residents and businesses through marketing the city’s amenities. Spread the momentum of the Kercheval business district to Jefferson, Charlevoix, and Mack Ave. It’s an exciting time in Grosse Pointe Park. I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to live, work or play here.

Continue to provide open, accessible and responsive government. Since elected four years ago, I have fielded hundreds of questions, ideas and concerns from residents and Park business owners. I work hard to respond to each person that contacts me. I enjoy hearing from the community. I can be reached at lauriearora@comcast.net, or 313-885-3123.

Daniel C. Grano (I)
Age: 31
Occupation: Attorney (Assistant Attorney General, State of Michigan)
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Park
For how long: 31
Education: JD, Wayne State; BA University of Michigan; Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Certificate in State and Local Government
Previously held elected offices: Two terms on Grosse Pointe Park City Council
Top goals: I have watched the Grosse Pointe Park change for the better over the last 7 and half years. There was doubt when I started on council about Grosse Pointe Park’s future. However, the policies the City Council and I have pursued enabled the city to thrive, encouraged private investment, and placed us on a track to a prosperous future.

My goals for the next four years are continuing the policies to enhance our business and residential neighborhoods, upgrading our parks, and right sizing our government by collaborating more with our Grosse Pointe neighbors to keep our community safe and providing more services on-line through an updated website. In sum, I see a Grosse Pointe Park that is more welcoming, more affordable, and more attractive to families of all ages over the next four years.

James Robson (I)
Age: 65
Occupation: Retired Police Commander
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Park
For how long: 38 years
Education: M.A.
Previously held elected offices: Grosse Pointe Park City Council
Top goals: 1. Maintain and improve our outstanding public safety service. There must not be any reduction in our patrol staffing. If anything, I’d like to see an increase.

2. Our roads are in poor condition. The city must move forward as soon as possible in fixing all roads in need of repair.

3. We must continue to partner with neighboring communities in the sharing of services without reducing the quality of current services. As always, our government has an obligation to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.

 

Grosse Pointe Shores City Council
Three candidates are running for three two-year terms.

Alexander Ajlouni (I)
Did not respond before press time.

Robert H. Barrette Jr (I)
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired, with over 40 years experience in the utility business.
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Shores
For how long: 12 years
Education: BS - Business/Marketing, Mercy College of Detroit (UDM)
Previously held elected offices: two years as City Council Member.
Top goals: For the past two years I have served as liaison to Public Works and Municipal Buildings, and one year as liaison to the Grosse Pointe Shores Improvement Foundation. I want to continue working with the DPW Director and staff in all areas to contribute to the progress that has been made during the past two years.

As I have stated before, maintenance is a key component of long-term success in operating the city. The infrastructure in all areas is being upgraded in the city at present; this will need to be reviewed periodically.

I will again support the Improvement Foundation which is a great asset to the city, since this is people helping people. They currently are working on the installation of a splashpad designed by Vortex, a welcome enhancement to our city park.

Bruce Bisballe (I)
Age: 59
Occupation: Retired, Attorney, CPA, Business Owner
Municipality of residence: Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, a Michigan City
For how long: 12 years
Education: B.A., University of Michigan, J.D., U of D-Mercy, L.L.M., Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices:  City Council, for Grosse Pointe Shores
Top goals: Continue to insure that the Village will be financially sound going forward. Maintain ongoing reviews of all expenditures and revenue sources to maximize value and services. Employ long term financial planning, using the established 3 year rolling budget and long term capital planning including equipment, facilities and infrastructure needs. Reduce long term legacy costs, revise health and retirement plans.

The important issue is keeping focused on the key items facing the city today.  The infrastructure in all areas is being upgraded in the city at present; this will need to be reviewed periodically. The budget must be managed accordingly to support the city’s needs (roads, pumps, buildings, etc.) and for areas such as continuous maintenance to avoid deterioration requiring major repairs.

 

Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor
One candidate is running for a four-year term.

Robert E. Novitke (I)
Age: 67
Occupation: Practicing Attorney
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 40 years
Education: Juris Doctor Degree
Previously held elected offices: City Council member and Mayor of the City of Grosse Pointe Woods
Top goals: 1.  Maintaining a safe and vibrant city with a high level of quality services, emphasizing a sense of community.

2. Road maintenance and construction

3. Increasing property values

To accomplish the above we need to continue to emphasize cost sharing of equipment and some services with the other Grosse Pointe cities; emphasize ordinances to maintain residential quality; “marketing” the attributes of Grosse Pointe Woods to attract new residents; enforcement of our rental and other ordinances; continued review and improvement of our ordinances to maintain a vibrant commercial district; and pursue state and federal grants to fund major streets and increase revenue to fund local streets.

 

Grosse Pointe Woods City Council
Four candidates are running for three four-year terms.

Vicki Granger (I)
Age: 64
Occupation: Director of Communications and Public Relations, Website/Social Media Manager, De La Salle Collegiate High School (Warren, MI)
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 35 years
Education: Bachelor’s from Wayne State University (teaching); Master’s from University of Detroit (educational administration); Master’s from Eastern Michigan University (communications)
Previously held elected offices: On Grosse Pointe Woods Council since 1997 (16 years), first elected in 1997, re-elected 2001, 2005, 2009
Top goals: In addition to continuing to pay close attention to the budget, to provide the services residents expect, such as public safety, public works, road improvements, and the parks, two other areas need to be addressed:

First,  the use of technology within the city. Many government agencies have gone to the “cloud” and have saved thousands of dollars. We need to examine these new technologies to see how our residents may benefit, such as using online forms, and if such technologies would save money in software licensing and server upgrades. We also need to be able to use the data such technologies can provide to allocate resources in public safety, public works.

Second,  the city’s website. We need to upgrade the site, and insure that the site is user-friendly for current residents, and provides the kinds of information potential residents and businesses need to help them learn more about the city.

Kevin R. Ketels (I)
Age: 42
Occupation: CEO, KMED LLC; Adjunct Professor, School of Business Administration, Wayne State University
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: Seven years
Education: B.A, Michigan State University; M.S, Boston University
Previously held elected offices: Grosse Pointe Woods City Council Member
Top goals: The critical challenge in Grosse Pointe Woods is to maintain quality services while also managing the budget in a fiscally responsible way. Since 2007, the taxable value of properties has declined by 30%. Grosse Pointe Woods has reduced its workforce by 19 FT positions, increased employee health contributions, reduced wages, added unpaid furlough days and delayed road construction. Additional strategies for savings include: 1) Consolidate services with neighboring communities. 2) Identify grants such as federal funding recently made available for improvements on Marter and Morningside. 3) Combine purchasing requests with other cities to get better pricing for materials and equipment. We must continue these efforts to identify efficiencies in city operations, while also maintaining public safety staffing levels, quality parks, and services. It is critical we maintain Grosse Pointe Woods as a very special community to live and do business. For more info, visit www.ketels.us.

Todd A. McConaghy (I)
Age: 42
Occupation: Senior Associate Counsel to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 12 years
Education: Juris Doctorate, May 1996, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.  Bachelor of Science, May 1993, University of Detroit.
Previously held elected offices: Grosse Pointe Woods City Council Member, 2009-present
Top goals: As a City Council Member, I have worked diligently to maintain the high standards that make Grosse Pointe Woods special while ensuring fiscal responsibility.  My top three priorities are balancing the budget, maintaining City services, and improving roads. If re-elected, I will continue to work closely with elected officials, appointed officials, administration, and employees to preserve our community in these difficult economic times. Further cuts in expenditures will, no doubt, be necessary. The City must also maximize all potential sources of revenue including any available State and Federal funds. Although challenging, I welcome the opportunity to continue to serve and am confident that the current City Council has the knowledge, ability, and experience to persevere on behalf of our residents. Please join Mayor Robert Novitke, as well as City Council Members Arthur Bryant, Victoria Granger, Kevin Ketels, Richard Shetler and former City Council Member Al Dickinson in supporting my candidacy.

Robert J. Sheehy
Age: 74
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 42 years
Education: Carsten’s Elementary, Jackson Intermediate, Austin High School, Detroit Institute of Technology BBA
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1. A strong public safety department would be my first area of concern. We are down in the number of police officers from several years ago and need to protect our residents and business with more officers not less officers. I do not want to privatize our EMS. We have the best of the best now and want to keep the EMS we now have.

2. Fiscal accountability is my next concern. I helped fight the Headlee Override our current council wanted to pass. We can work to garner savings from our current budget and not give a blank check to government.

3. Keep our city services, curbside leaf pickup, snow clearing streets and roads and parks clean, safe well kept.