Voters to decide mayors, councils, marijuana decriminalization

Woodward Talk | Published October 23, 2013

In the Woodward Talk’s coverage area, voters will decide two mayoral races, one council race, one commission race and four ballot proposals during the Nov. 5 election. Candidates were asked, in 150 words or fewer, to state the top items they 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.

Berkley Mayor
One candidate is running for one two-year term.

Phil O’Dwyer (I)
Age: 65
Occupation: President, Brookfield Clinics, Inc.; Adjunct Professor, Oakland University
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 33 years
Education: Doctorate, Counseling Psychology, Wayne State University; Graduate Studies; University of Detroit, University of Notre Dame; Undergraduate Studies, Ireland.
Previously held elected offices: Berkley City Council, 6 years; Berkley Mayor; 2 years
Top goals: As Mayor, my primary task will be to ensure that our citizen’s views are heard and that their concerns are objectively considered. This will be accomplished by conducting City Council meetings with fairness, civility and equity and by representing the City in a professional manner.

My second priority is the financial security of Berkley. Amid diminishing resources this is a pivotal issue for every resident. I will ensure the prudent management of our limited funds and I will seek the direction of the residents on major financial decisions that could impact the services they receive.

Enriching our Berkley Quality of Life is my third priority. Its essential features include: preserving our neighborhood spirit, encouraging property enhancement, attracting valued businesses, supporting our dedicated employees, improving our parks, expanding our talented and generous pool of volunteers and facilitating citywide dialogue through new technologies.


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

Steven William Baker (I)
Age: 42
Occupation: IT Director, DTE Energy
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 14 years
Education: MS, Software Engineering and BS, Computer Science, Oakland University; Executive Program, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Previously held elected offices: Current member of Berkley City Council
Top goals: Berkley offers comfortable neighborhoods, a blossoming downtown, exceptional schools, and efficient municipal operations. Together we are positioned to (a) continue delivering and improving city services including public safety, parks and recreation, library, planning, and public works; (b) accelerate the downtown growth through effective place making and business attraction and retention; and (c) partner with our regional neighbors on cost savings, transit opportunities, and other collaborations to make Berkley an even greater place to live, work, and play.

Those are my priorities and to ensure success I will (1) carefully oversee the city’s budget and resources; (2) meaningfully listen to and consult with the city’s residents and businesses; and (3) work closely with fellow Council members and regional neighbors to help move Berkley forward. I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the residents and businesses of the City of Berkley.

Jack Blanchard (I)
Age: 70
Occupation: Retired
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 35 years
Education: Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University
Previously held elected offices: Appointed to Berkley City Council in 2011
Continue the fiscal accountability/responsibility that has led to Berkley receiving an AA bond rating and audit comments that state “The city’s financial management remains sound, evidenced by its conservative budgeting and aggressive cost cutting actions enabling the preservation of healthy reserve levels, despite pressure from declining property tax and state aid revenues.”

Maintain the distinctive community that our resident desire by continued emphasis on code enforcement. This is being done by adding another part time code enforcement officer. Other items underway are the Coolidge traffic study and the Way Finding Study.

Continue to provide the municipal services and infrastructure improvements that meet or exceed our resident expectation. We also need to improve and support our business districts by continuing to provide easily accessible parking.

Tina Marie Edgar
Age: 58
Occupation: Retired High School English and Humanities Teacher
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: Not provided
Education: Master of Arts degree from Central Michigan University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top Goals: 1. THE BUSINESS DISTRICT: Work with the Downtown Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce to continue the ongoing improvements and beautification of the downtown area. This would include parking lots and alleyways, building facades and sidewalks, and general curb appeal.

2. SERVICES: Collaborate with the Public Safety Department to ensure that all necessary equipment and training continues to be provided in a timely manner in an effort to strengthen the citizens’ safety and security, engendering a sense of community pride.

3. COMMUNITY: Put emphasis on improved branding and wayfinding to make the city more attractive to visitors and residents, establishing a distinctive personality. (A city’s brand is a mixture of attributes that create value and influence, and helps residents, businesses, and tourists distinguish one city from another. Wayfinding is the science of understanding how people perceive the environment. Wayfinding systems subtly communicate a city’s values, and create memorable experiences.)


Ferndale Mayor
Four candidates are running for one two-year term.

David Coulter (I)
Age: 53
Occupation: Program Officer, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 22 years
Education: B.A., Michigan State University; Executive Education Certificate, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
Previously held elected offices: Oakland County Commissioner (representing Ferndale, Hazel Park and Royal Oak) for four terms, 2002-2010.
Top goals: Continue our prudent multi-year budgeting policies that have helped cut expenses by almost $1 million and protected vital police and fire services, while still providing the city with a two-year balanced budget.

Expand our efforts to create jobs and lower unemployment by focusing on economic development, including expanding my new Mayor’s Business Council, which has helped lower commercial/industrial vacancy rates in half while attracting a 35 percent increase in new non-residential investment.

Upgrade our city parks and add new features residents want within the next year by seeking new grants and sponsorships, in conjunction with my new Blue Ribbon Commission on Ferndale Parks. 

More information can also be found at

Craig Covey
Age: 56
Occupation: Special Assistant to Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 25 years
Education: B.A. Political Science & Communications, Ohio State University Columbus
Previously held elected offices: From 1999-2012 – 8 years as Ferndale City Councilman, 3 years as Mayor, 2 years Oakland County Commissioner
Top goals: Keep Ferndale affordable for seniors, young families, and all working and middle class residents by cutting spending on more consultants, additional surveys and studies, new staff positions and other unnecessary projects, instead focusing on infrastructure and basic services like police, fire, roads, etc.   

Halt further installations of the new kiosk parking system, slow or halt further spending on it, and seek ways to get reimbursements or refunds through the contracts with the company that installed it. I oppose plans to hike parking fees in 2014. Work with and leverage local developers who have offered to build parking decks with shops and condos in exchange for land. Freeze or lower water rates, and offer lower sewer rates for summer months. 

We can be a progressive and green community with good services, that embraces diversity, but does not drive away seniors and young people with unsustainable high taxes and water rates.  

Linda Parton
Age: 55
Occupation: Photographer
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 23 years
Education: Bachelor of Art in Photography, Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara, Completed Bailie School of Broadcast, Seattle
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: As I traverse Ferndale’s doorsteps I grow more fond of this city and it’s residents! You’ve shared what’s now “our” concerns. We all agree: water bills are outrageous, there’s too many rats, and downtown’s parking system frustrates users. I’ll be the Erin Brockovich of Ferndale! Erin got to the bottom of why water killed people, I’ll find out why water bills are killing people’s budgets. Let’s address the rats! Management measures are: sanitation, rodent proofing, plus population control. 

The unpopular parking system “goes”, as we change to updated single pay meters.

I’m a “NO” on Decriminalizing Marijuana. I learned disturbing trending by youth at, “The Truth and Consequences of Marijuana and Youth”  visit

If passed, I’d work to protect our kids and support police as they enforce state/federal laws.

I’ll work hard to accomplish everything in one term. I’m no “career politician”.


Sherry A. Wells
Age: 66
Occupation: Attorney, publisher, public speaker
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 25 years
Education: B.A. in Education, with Spanish and Political Science minors, from MSU; J.D. from WSU Law School
Previously held elected offices: Ferndale Charter Revision Commission, 1996-1999; presided 1996-1998
Top goals: 1.  Continue to seek ways to cut costs and bring in funds to keep at least the current level of services—use resources available to public officials such as conferences, publications, organizations, resident and business suggestions and involvement.

2.  Improve communication to, from and between residents, businesses and city government—my “trialogue”—through approachability and by providing more information and clarification during council meetings, through the website, at coffees, town hall meetings, etc.

3.  Make the community more sustainable and improved environmentally through collaboration within the three groups I listed; encouraging self-reliance by looking locally for most of our needs such as by expanding the community garden, TimeBank and nonmotorized transit concepts; by seeking businesses, which will use local resources for local production for local customers.


Ferndale City Council
Two candidates are running for two four-year terms.

Greg Pawlica
Age: 45
Occupation: Business Analyst for Ford Motor Company
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 11 years
Education: BS in Business Administration from Central Michigan University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1) Maintain a fiscally responsible budget that allows our city to provide the highest quality of service to our citizens without gouging taxpayer pockets. 2)  Invest in our parks, buildings, streets and other municipal infrastructure to ensure the safety and value to the community, which encourages private investment and an increase to property values. 3)  Support the continued growth of Ferndale into an inclusive and diverse community, where there is a place for everyone to live, do business, and raise a family. I will work to accomplish these three goals by strengthening partnerships between government, businesses, non-profits, and neighborhood entities, and I will work with Council to ensure that we hire, develop, and retain the highest caliber of city employees available. Please visit for more information.

Melanie Claudette Piana (I)
Age: 40
Occupation: Urban Planner, Non-Profit Management
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 9.5 years
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Albion College; Masters of Urban Planning, Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: 2009-2013, first term Ferndale City Council Member
Top goals: I will continue strong leadership to focus on strengthening what the city does well, correcting course where necessary and creating a forward thinking government.  I envision a community that uses its collective creative spirit to build a place where we can live, grow our families and businesses, and play safely.

I support building a more bike friendly city, improving walkability and preparing Woodward Avenue for mass transit. I will continue to focus my energy to improve our streets to accommodate all users and improve mass transit for Ferndale.

I support a citizen focused government that is responsive to residents. I’m encouraging the city to adopt priority driven budgeting which is a fundamental change in the way resources are allocated. This requires a collaborative and evidence-based approach to ensure what our government does measures up to community priorities.

Strong, healthy neighborhoods and quality parks are important to families. I will focus (…)


Ferndale Public Library Board of Directors
Two candidates are running for two six-year terms.

Judeen Bartos (I)
Age: 55
Occupation: Assistant Director, Oakland University Office of Public School Academies
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 12 years
Education: Bachelor of Science, Early Childhood/Elementary Education. Masters of Education, Instructional Technology.
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Strengthen the financial viability and stability of the library. The downward trend in property tax revenue is a source of concern. Less revenue can lead to reduced services so it is crucial for the board to responsibly utilize our current funding and proactively pursue other revenue sources.

Ensure responsiveness to the unique needs of our community. Ferndale is very fortunate to have such a high level of civic involvement and passion for building and sustaining our community, and a strong library is essential to its vitality. We must be receptive to the interests and needs of our citizens in order to maintain relevancy.

Plan for the future. Libraries are continously evolving and are an important source of knowledge beyond the books on our shelves. With long-term strategic planning we can secure our library’s innovative and progressive position in the community.

Monique Nicole Herzig (I)
Age: 43
Occupation: Owner, Alchemy-Apothecary, Ferndale
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 13 years
Education: BS Recreation & Leisure Studies, licensed esthetician
Previously held elected offices: Trustee Ferndale Public Library (2 year partial term)
Top goals: Strengthen Financial Resources; with a grant from the Ferndale Community Foundation we were able to hire a consultant to guide us in developing a comprehensive plan for Annual Giving and Program Related Investments. The next step is to fund a grant writer / researcher to identify and secure money to support our budget.

Build Collaboration with Schools; By exploring creative ways to support the educational needs of our community. My vision includes funding a tech-savvy staffer that would allow us to really use the computer lab we have in the library for student use, and secure funding for tutoring in the library.

Communications / Outreach: We need to better promote our library as an anchor in our community. We are proud to provide access to services that inform, enrich, entertain, and empower, and we could be more dynamic in our communications.


Ferndale Public Library Board of Directors
Two candidates are running for two partial terms ending Jan. 1, 2018.

Frank Vincent Castronova
Age: 42
Occupation: Non-profit professional
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 15 years
Education: Notre Dame High School (Harper Woods, Mich.), diploma, magna cum laude; Wayne State University, Bachelor of Arts (English); Wayne State University, Master of Library and Information Science
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Three important items on the agenda are budget, fundraising, and library services. I will collaborate with my fellow trustees, library staff, and library volunteers to create as we maintain a plan to increase library revenue by seeking financial support from our residents and local businesses. Fundraising will provide the budget with much-needed funds that will allow the Ferndale Public Library to continue to provide valuable, relevant, cutting-edge, and non-traditional services to residents of Ferndale and neighboring communities.

Adrienne Marie Fazzolara Gilmore (I)
Age: 39
Occupation: Public School Teacher
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 15 years
Education: BA and MA from Michigan State University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: While in office I plan to continue the library’s dedication to intellectual freedom and support for lifelong education that is accessible to all our citizens. I believe it is important that our library continue to support culture and the arts in our community while seeking opportunities to expand our current programming. It is important that we maximize our funding so that we continue to provide outstanding service to our community with optimal hours of operation and collection expansion. The success of our library will depend on strengthening our financial resources which is a priority for all of us on the board and something I will continue to develop. I would like to pursue collaborative opportunities with Ferndale Public Schools so that together we can maximize our resources while supporting literacy and education for all of our students.


Huntington Woods City Commission
Two candidates are running for two four-year terms.

Jules B. Olsman (I)
Age: 60
Occupation: Attorney; President, Olsman, Mueller Wallace & MacKenzie, P.C. in Berkley
Municipality of residence: Huntington Woods
For how long: 37 years
Education: BA Wayne State University, 1975; JD Detroit College of Law, 1978
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: It has been an honor and privilege to serve as a City Commissioner for the past four years. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve our city. My goal is to work in an effective and collegial manner with my fellow Commissioners to help maintain high property values in Huntington Woods. In my view, this is best accomplished through strong support for Public Safety, elimination of blight through fair and uniform code enforcement and by promoting and supporting the students, teachers and the principal at Burton School. I fully support the renovation of Burton Community Park. It is a valuable asset for our city. Our most important task in the coming months will be the selection of a new City Manager to replace Mr. Alex Allie who has served our city with distinction and honor for 24 years. I look forward to participating in this important task.

Robert F. Paul III (I)
Age: 53
Occupation: Partner – Genesee Cut Stone & Marble Co.
Municipality of residence: The great city of Huntington Woods
For how long: 27 years
Education: Michigan State University, Bachelor’s Degree / Accounting
Previously held elected offices: Huntington Woods City Commissioner – 17 years
Top goals: The annual budget will remain the #1 priority of the City Commission. My business and educational background, along with 17 years of commission experience, speak to my qualifications for getting this job done. Although we have weathered the storm and property values are once again on the rise, it is still vitally important to explore new and innovative ways to provide quality services to the citizens for less money. We must continue the aggressive replacement of our aging infrastructure for the long-term good of Huntington Woods. To that end, I encourage everyone to re-new the bond issue that is on the ballot this year in order to continue the repair and replacement of roads and underground utilities. Long term we need to develop plans for shared resources with our neighboring communities and more services for our senior population that would like to age in place in Huntington Woods. Thank you.


Pleasant Ridge Mayor
Two candidates are running for one four-year term.

Kurt R. Metzger
Age: 66
Occupation: Founder and Director of Data Driven Detroit (D3)
Municipality of residence: Pleasant Ridge, Michigan
For how long: 26 years
Education: Walnut Hills High School (Cincinnati, OH), 1964; B.A. in Psychology/Sociology, University of Cincinnati, 1969; M.A. in Experimental Psychology, University of Cincinnati, 1972
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: The Mayor sets the tone for the city. My career has centered on a life-long passion for the study, planning, and well being of communities.

Leadership — I will take leadership in city planning efforts, utilizing active resident engagement, to strengthen our residential, recreational and commercial assets, while balancing value with cost. I will be visible in the community and utilize my relationships to connect Pleasant Ridge to outside opportunities.

Communication — Increased information sharing and government transparency is of critical importance to our residents. I will make better use of technology to inform and engage the residents to become more aware of and involved in community activities. 

Preservation — I will work tirelessly to preserve and enhance Pleasant Ridge’s distinctive community character and high quality services, while planning for a secure future. I will take an active role in regional efforts to guarantee that our resident voices are heard.

Frank Rubino
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired, City of Fraser, City Manager
Municipality of residence: Pleasant Ridge
For how long: 26 years
Education: Roseville High School, Macomb Community College, Central Michigan
Previously held elected offices: Current City Commissioner, City Councilman/Mayor Pro-tem in Fraser MI
Top goals: My highest priority is Safety. It is necessary to maintain the City’s valued/ independent police department and train OUR officers to be first responders. A multi-trained employee adds additional safety and value to our residents.

Utilizing my career background (City Manager of Fraser, MI) I continually search for new / improved methods to keep the city fiscally responsible. Because revenues are limited, we must accomplish more with less. Keeping Pleasant Ridge financially stable is extremely important and relevant. Numbers / graphic descriptions of data do simplify complex relationships, reducing information into manageable bits. However, presenting the numbers are not the same as managing the numbers. From setting policy (commissioner) to implementation (City Manager); these are my areas of employment, expertise and commitment.

Explore, improve/implement our City’s water/billing system. With limited commercial and industrial customers in PR, it is very difficult to effectively spread the cost, which is primarily left to (…)


Pleasant Ridge City Commission
Three candidates are running for two four-year terms.

Jamison Edward Foreman
Age: 39
Occupation: Sr. (IT) Systems Engineer
Municipality of residence: Pleasant Ridge
For how long: 3.5 years
Education: BA from Wayne State University – Business Management
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Communication. Open and effective communication allows residents to plan for upcoming events and to be as informed in City matters as they wish. I will push to supplement the “Ridger” with an updated, full-featured website offering a dynamic events calendar and all the information that a current or potential resident may find useful. Also an improved email list with regular updates and multiple subscription options.

Collaboration. My goal is to take resident participation in our government to the next level, giving all residents a more significant voice in the process. This will mean that projects and plans need to get started sooner, allowing time for the collaboration to occur.

Maintenance. Over the years, some of our City’s public spaces have begun to deteriorate and require refurbishment and/or updating. I will work with the City Commission and administration to develop and implement a comprehensive and sustainable maintenance plan.

Bret A. Scott
Age: 47
Occupation: Manager of Global Connected Vehicle Platforms, Chrysler LLC
Municipality of residence: Pleasant Ridge, MI
For how long: 2 years
Education: High school graduate from Pontiac Central High School in Pontiac, MI; BSEE from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI; MBA from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: While effective in many ways, past Commissions have not focused strongly on three basic areas, and they will benefit from renewed attention. They are: Planning, Maintenance, and Thinking Forward.

Planning: I will work to ensure that the city’s master and recreation plans reflect the priorities of our citizens, and will also install methods to measure that we are sticking to the plans.

Maintenance: I will make the maintenance of our services and community spaces a high priority. Long-term budgeting will be planned out to conservatively sustain our maintenance.

Forward Thinking: I will push to be voice in our region while preserving the best aspects of our autonomy. Balancing the needs along Woodward will be a priority.

Ryan Stearn
Age: 39
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence: Pleasant Ridge
For how long: 8 years
Education: Bachelor of Science, University of Michigan, 1995; Juris Doctorate, Wayne State University Law School, 2000; Real Estate Broker’s License; Admitted to Practice law in the State of Michigan, United State Federal Court, Eastern District of Michigan, and United States Federal Court of Claims
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: For 13 years I have practiced law in the areas of contracts and real estate. Since Pleasant Ridge contracts out virtually all services, a contract attorney is an invaluable asset for the City Commission. If elected, I will be the only attorney on the City Commission.   

As Commissioner, I will advocate to retain our independent police department. Our police patrol our streets, and have become familiar with our residents, their cars and their homes. As a result, our community is safer for all our families. Second, Pleasant Ridge must be fiscally responsible; we must continue to work with all neighboring communities to obtain the most affordable and best services possible. Third, the City Commission must work together and with the residents. Only by working together and becoming united, can we maintain our incredible, independent and unique community with the exceptional services that we all value. 

For more information, visit

Ferndale Proposal A

Shall a new Sec. 12-82 be added to the Code of Ordinances, Article III, Chapter 12, which shall read as follows:
“Sec. 12-82. Non-Applicability to Certain Behaviors Involving Marijuana.
“None of the provisions of Sections 12-79 through 12-81 shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.”

Huntington Woods Street Improvement Bond Proposal
Shall the City of Huntington Woods, Michigan, borrow the principal sum of not to exceed Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($7,500,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds, in one or more series, payable in not to exceed fifteen (15) years from the date of issue of each series, for the purpose of paying the cost of acquiring and constructing street improvements throughout the City, consisting of paving, repaving, grading, resurfacing, reconstructing and improving streets, including curb, gutter, drainage, landscaping and related utility improvements, acquisition of necessary interests in land and all related appurtenances and attachments? If approved, the estimated millage to be levied in 2014 is 0.29 mills ($0.29 per $1,000 of taxable value) and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds is 1.67 mills ($1.67 per $1,000 of taxable value).

Pleasant Ridge Proposal A
Shall a “Headlee Override” be adopted so that the current limitation on the amount of City taxes that may be levied against all taxable property in the City of Pleasant Ridge, Oakland County, Michigan be increased:
• Up to 20.0 mills from approximately 11.4248 mills ($20.00 from approximately $11.42 per $1,000 of taxable value) for general operating expenses, consisting of police, fire, public works, sidewalks, water and sewer, parks and recreation, pool operations, general government, capital projects and continuation of existing services, and
• Up to 3 mills from approximately 1.7134 mills ($3.00 from approximately $1.71 per $1,000 of taxable value) for solid water/rubbish, and
If approved and levied in its entirety, this millage would raise an estimated maximum amount of $1,266,420 for the City in 2014 by allowing the City to levy the maximum mills previously approved by the voters and authorized by the City Charter and State law which have been reduced as required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963?

Pleasant Ridge Proposal B
Shall the City of Pleasant Ridge be authorized to continue to levy up to three (3) mills per year, for years 2015 through 2035, inclusive in excess of its Charter authorized tax rate as reduced by Section 314, Article IX of the 1963 State Constitution, such additional millage to be used to finance street, sewer & water system repairs, sidewalks, alleys, parking lots, parks and general infrastructure improvements within the City of Pleasant Ridge?