Voters to decide mayor, council, millage

Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 23, 2013

In the Sentry’s coverage area, voters will choose City Council members and a mayor, and decide on a public safety and roads millage Nov. 5. Below is the exact millage proposal language as it will appear on the ballot, as well as profiles for 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 their answer. (I) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Sterling Heights Mayor

One candidate is running for one two-year term.

Richard Notte (I)
Did not return questionnaire by press time.


Sterling Heights City Council

Eight candidates are running for six two-year terms.

Deanna Koski (I)
Age: 72
Occupation:  Retired
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long:  44 years
Education:  Associate Degree, Legal Assistant,  MCC., Real Estate Broker and Title Insurance Agent License(s)
Previously held elected offices:  Councilwoman, City of Sterling Heights since 1989
Top goals: Implement efficiencies of City services by investing in improvements to online capabilities by automating systems. This will allow mobile field reporting for Code Enforcement / Fire Inspections and updates to City Website to be more user friendly for residents.

Focus on economic development growth, Macomb OU-INCubator, business recruitment, job retention and creation of new jobs. Spotlight the City as a premier location to build and grow a business. Identify alternate uses for facilities and vacant retail space, providing a strategy for business to develop and prosper in Sterling Heights. 

Provide quality city services to residents, safe neighborhoods and roads. Promote the SHINE intuitive to assist residents with property maintenance. Focus on transparency of city government regarding financial conditions. Encourage resident to participate in COPS, CERT, and Neighbor Watch programs improving the City’s ability to respond to natural, civil and medical emergencies.

Joseph V. Romano (I)
Age:  02/09/1942
Municipality of residence: STERLING HEIGHTS, 48312
For how long:  42 YEARS
Previously held elected offices: 16 YEARS ON CITY COUNCIL IN STERLING HEIGHTS

As a council member, I will vigorously continue to support our police and fire departments. Citizen safety comes first. We have the best and I will strive to maintain that distinction.

We have reduced full time employees by 201 since 2002 which means we are doing more with less. We must also continue fair open dialogue with the 12 city unions.

Enlarge our property inspections, especially those of rental homes. We currently have 3 full time inspectors and an additional 5 part time.
Sterling Heights became a city in the 1960’s and our roads are deteriorating. If the new millage passes, we will continue to improve many neighborhood streets.

Maria G. Schmidt (I)
Age: 51
Occupation: Medication Supervisor/Medical Assistant
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 19 years
Education: Bishop Foley High School, Oakland Community College
Previously held elected offices: Not provided.
Top goals: The top things I would like to see happen in the next two years is, Staying focused on the future of Sterling Heights, by continuing to be very cautious on how we spend money. I would like to see customer service be a priority. We need to evaluate our staffing levels and see how we can be efficient while still being proactive to the needs of our residents. We also need to invest in our aging infrastructure. I would like to see more code enforcement with possibly restructuring the penalties for repeat offenders.  Economic development is also a priority. When business invests in Sterling Heights they help keep the tax rate one of the lowest in the state, which means less from our residents. Without Question we need to do what we can to remain on of the safest cities in the nation.

Nate Shannon
Age: 38
Occupation: Teacher
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 4 Years
Education: B.A. Political Science (Oakland University) M.A. Secondary Education (Wayne State University)
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: As a resident of Sterling Heights I know our community and understand both its challenges and its potential; and I seek the opportunity to work toward making what is now a vision into a reality.

My priority is public safety and, specifically, finding ways to fund these essential services at the level residents expect.

I am also committed to retaining and attracting businesses to Sterling Heights. My vision is a sustainable, vital and viable economic base that will stimulate the type of commercial and social activity so necessary to the city’s future stability.

I look forward to seeking and implementing solutions that will benefit our community and make it even more attractive to potential residents and businesses.

If given the opportunity to serve, I will work diligently to accomplish the goals I have set forth for the city. For more information please visit

Doug Skrzyniarz
Age: 36
Occupation: Associate Vice President of Government Affairs and Adjunct Instructor, Wayne State University School of Medicine and Physician Group
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 10 years
Education: Michigan State University, B.A. in International Relations and Political Theory; University of Michigan School of Public Health, Masters of Health Services Administration; Wayne State University, Masters of Political Science
Previously held elected offices: Not provided.
Top goals: I will prioritize three areas including public safety, economic development, and services for senior citizens. I will bring a balanced and evidence based approach to the council. As the father of two young children, my passion is their future. I will work hard to keep our streets safe and that our emergency response times continue to be one of the best in the country. To accomplish this, we must be creative and diligent to invest in those areas that have the biggest impact on our residents. We must also continue to identify ways to contain costs and be more efficient, so we can direct resources to where they are needed most. Finally, I will lead a community engagement initiative to reach out to residents in the neighborhoods. Together, we can build the future of our great city. To learn more, please visit Please vote for Doug Skrzyniarz November 5th.

Paul M Smith (I)
Age: 67
Occupation: Retired General Motors Senior Project Engineer
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights, Michigan
For how long: I have been a citizen of Sterling Heights since September of 1977 and a Michigander since 1946.
Education:  Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University, Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from General Motors Institute, a graduate of USAF officer training school and pilot training, Cooley High School and Cerveny Elementary, Detroit, Michigan
Previously held elected offices:  My election to Sterling Heights City Council in 2011 was my first election to public office.
Top goals: My function on council is to represent the residential and small business taxpayer. The remainder of the incumbents stand for property developers, realtors, landlords, wealthy out-of-town industrialists, and especially police and fire unions. I am currently outnumbered six to one by liberals and will continue to be outnumbered in the next term. I am able to force discussion of spending, tax breaks, and lavish union contracts.

If council is populated by seven liberals the people can anticipate short meetings with all business transacted on the consent agenda and even bigger taxation increases.

The other six council members support the tax increase issue that would, if passed, raise your property tax to almost 141% of what it was just four years ago.  My defeat coupled with passage of the 2.5 mil tax hike would open the flood gates to ongoing unquestioned spending and a far bigger third tax increase very soon.

Michael C. Taylor (I)
Age: 30
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 5 years
Education: Wayne State University Law School, Juris Doctor; Kalamazoo College, B.A. Economics
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Heights City Council, 2009 – present
Top goals: In 2011, I promised that if you re-elected me I would eliminate double-dip pensions, pass balanced budgets without depleting fund reserves, and reform the boards and commissions selection process, all at a low cost to the residents. Working collaboratively with residents, administration, and my colleagues on council, I am proud to say that I accomplished all three of those goals, and more. In the next two years, we must rebuild our roads, improve our neighborhoods, and reform our broken pension and healthcare systems. I will increase road funding to ensure our local streets don’t fall into disrepair. I will also demand fair labor contracts that reduce unfunded liabilities and legacy costs. Lastly, I will emphasize neighborhood improvement through education and aggressive code enforcement. If re-elected, I’ll remain an independent voice on council who always places residents first and will work tirelessly to achieve the positive changes you demand and deserve. 

Barbara A. Ziarko (I)
Age: 64 years of age
Occupation: Part-time Secretary and Bookkeeper St. Blase Catholic  Community
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 36 year resident
Education: Associate Degree Macomb Community College
Previously held elected offices: City Council is the only elected office I’ve held.
Top goals: The results of the ballot proposal to fund police/fire and local roads will determine in which direction the city will move in the immediate future. Regardless the outcome, providing excellent city services is imperative. My primary focus will be public safety, economic development, and rebuilding areas of our full-service city that were affected during the financial crisis. The passage of the ballot proposal will alleviate the stress on future budgets, will enable us to maintain the current staffing numbers in the police and fire departments, allow us to purchase new vehicles and equipment in the DPW, and grant us the opportunity to elevate part-time employees and hire new employees in key areas of administration to insure continuity of institutional knowledge. Continuing our partnership with our business incubator, courting new business and industry, and maintaining our business friendly environment will be an advantage in this competitive market.


Millage for police and fire protection, and local street improvements

Shall the Sterling Heights Charter be amended to authorize the levy of an additional ad valorem millage of not more than 2.5 mills for 6 years, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2020, for the purpose of providing revenue for police and fire protection, and local street improvements? This 2.5 additional millage authorization shall be specifically dedicated as follows:

• 1.7 mills for police and fire protection
• 0.8 mills for local street improvements

This increased millage authorization will raise an estimated $10,400,000 in the first year if fully levied.