Voters to decide on mayor, city commissioners

Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published October 23, 2013

In the Journal’s coverage area, voters on Nov. 5 will decide on the Mount Clemens Mayoral race, three open seats to the Mount Clemens City Commission, and police and fire millages in Clinton Township. All 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 their word limit, ( … ) replaced the rest of their answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Mayor of Mount Clemens

Two candidates are running for one two-year term.

Barb Dempsey (I)
Age: 65
Occupation: Mayor, retired director of Patient Financial Services St. John Health
Municipality of residence: Mount Clemens
For how long: 55 years
Education: Mount Clemens High School, Class of 1967, St. John Institute, Elected Officials Academy, sponsored by the Michigan Municipal League.
Previously held elected offices: Currently Mayor 8 years, Mount Clemens City Commission 16 years, 6 as Mayor Pro Tem.
Top goals: 1. Fiscal Integrity-our major challenge still remains to be fiscal responsibility, especially with the current economic climate. We need to continue to control expenditures while maintaining core services to all residents. Our downtown is viable and our cultural institutions are strong. We need to build on our strengths.
2. Continue working with other governmental entities, such as our state legislators to insure that the city receives its fair share in Revenue sharing monies. It is also critical to communicate with the residents and the major stake holders in the community. Only by working together can we assure a strong future for our city.
3. Improve and maintain our infrastructure throughout the city. This is becoming more difficult each year with the decrease in revenues from both federal and state government.

Joe Rheker
(Joseph Frank Rheker III)
Age: 41
Occupation: Legislative Assistant to Detroit City Councilman Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr. and Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Municipality of residence: Mount Clemens
For how long: 10 years
Education: Master of Public Administration from Wayne State University April 2013, Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Michigan University 1998, Associate of Arts from Macomb Community College 1996.
Previously held elected offices: Mount Clemens City Commission 2011-present, Mount Clemens Community Schools Board of Education 2006-2009.
Top goals: To revitalize our city we need safe, attractive neighborhoods, good schools, and a thriving downtown. These ideas are dependent upon each other. If no one wants to move to a Mount Clemens neighborhood, we can’t have a great school system. That also means there is no customer base to attract and keep successful businesses. It’s a vicious cycle - one we have been stuck in for a while. I could throw out ideas that will help us get out of that cycle, like uniform code enforcement, or the city and school district sharing services, but those are just steps. What I believe we need is a plan, because when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
#1 Plan – Establish goals and objectives
#2 Collaborate – communicate and create efficiencies
#3 Measure and modify – track our progress and continually revisit the plan, adjusting according to success metrics
Learn more at

Mount Clemens City Commission

Two candidates are running for three four-year terms

Gary Blash (I)
Age: 61
Occupation: Assessor   
Municipality of residence: Mount Clemens
For how long: 61 years
Education: Mount Clemens High School graduate, BBA Northwood University, Veteran United States Army.
Previously held elected offices: Mount Clemens City Commission 2009-present.
Top goals: I have been employed in municipal government for over 36 years. The challenge today is providing services with declining revenues.
The most important thing is to balance the budget. The city is in a real finance crunch right now and we need all the help we can get. We just need to continue to work toward positive change for Mount Clemens.

Denise Mentzer
Occupation: Administrative Assistant to the Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Department, Macomb County.
Municipality of residence: Mount Clemens
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Suma cum Laude, Baker College.
Previously held elected offices: First time candidate for public office.
Top goals: It needs to be easier to buy, renovate and occupy vacant homes and businesses. Two of the three vacant homes on my street have been vacant for almost three years. Permitting and inspecting must be a friendlier, speedier process. Partnerships with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and grant dollars must be strongly investigated and pursued for the downtown area.
     The budget must not be balanced on the backs of employees and public safety must not be compromised. Cooperative agreements with local towns, cities and the County must be investigated for savings and enhancements to public services. We need a comprehensive growth plan to attract residents and businesses.
     There must be more opportunity for residents to be heard and to dispel the impression of a lack of transparency in city government. Council meetings need to have public speaking at both the beginning and end of the meeting.