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Royal Oak, Clawson leaders look ahead in 2020

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 15, 2020


ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — Proverbially, hindsight is 20/20, but local leaders are focusing on foresight in 2020.

C & G Newspapers interviewed the mayors and city managers in Royal Oak and Clawson to get a pulse on their agendas, as well as their New Year’s resolutions.


Royal Oak
Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said he is looking forward to keeping Royal Oak a healthy and diverse community, and that the voters’ reelection of all the incumbents last year spoke volumes about the positive things the city is doing, notably in terms of public safety and vibrancy.

Fournier said the City Commission is eager to tackle environmental sustainability and is working on a plan to implement as many green initiatives as possible. Road projects, he said, also remain a top priority, as well as developing veteran transition housing.

“In 2020, we certainly have to tackle the topic of recreational marijuana,” he said.

The City Commission recently extended its ban on recreational marijuana facilities in the city from Feb. 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020.

Another top priority is to hire a city manager. City Attorney David Gillam has been serving a dual role as interim city manager since Aug. 12. Gillam said his main concerns are finding a permanent city manager and ironing out zoning and licensing ordinances pertaining to recreational marijuana.

“Hopefully, we’ll get both recreational and medical marijuana on the books here in Royal Oak, and hopefully we’ll at least come closer to having a stormwater authority established,” Gillam said.

On Sept. 23, the City Commission hired GovHR as its executive search firm to assist in hiring a new city manager, at a cost not to exceed $19,500. GovHR Vice President James Vettraino, formerly the city manager of Rochester, will oversee the process.

Fournier said the city accepted applications for the position and Vettraino is evaluating the applications. The City Commission, he said, will soon meet in closed session to begin narrowing down candidates.


In March, the Clawson City Council selected Erin Irwin as its new city manager from a pool of six finalists, which was narrowed down by executive search firm Amy Cell Talent. Irwin replaced longtime former City Manager Mark Pollock, who separated from the city in November 2018.

Irwin said his priorities are to continue to deliver city services to residents, build up the new leadership on the City Council, and provide transparency.

New Mayor Reese Scripture and City Council members Kathy Phillips and Louis J. Samson recently joined incumbent City Council members Paula Millan and Susan Moffitt.

“We will be addressing the ethics ordinance at our first city of Clawson workshop that will take place the first Wednesday in February,” Irwin said. “It’s a new workshop (series) that Clawson has not had before that will allow much greater community input into our council’s decision-making process.”

The first workshop will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at Clawson City Hall, 425 N. Main St., north of 14 Mile Road. Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the city’s recently proposed ethics ordinance.

On March 4, the city will host a public workshop about finances. On April 1, it will host a public workshop about infrastructure. Both workshops will take place at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

“It’s a very casual setting with different topics each month,” Irwin said. “No decisions will be made at these workshops. We very much hope to get the community engaged. The more informed and more engaged residents we have, the more we can better our city services to accurately reflect the needs and desires of our citizenry.”

Irwin said he is also excited for new restaurant Pumachug to open in the space formerly occupied by Black Lotus Brewing Co., as well as for Weiss Distilling Co. to open in the space formerly occupied by 24G and Great Sport Coffee. He said the city is working to fill other vacancies, including the recently shuttered Pizza Hut.

Scripture, who ousted former Mayor Deborah Wooley in November, emailed a list of items to C & G Newspapers that she would like to see the City Council tackle in the new year.

They include adopting an ethics ordinance, a whistleblower policy, and policies and procedures to ensure “incoming and returning council members have quality training on issues fundamental to municipal governance, budgeting and legal compliance,” she wrote in the email.

She also hopes to assess and develop a plan for addressing the city’s aging infrastructure; to create a structure to form citizen advisory boards on topics that residents are most concerned about, including green infrastructure and environmental sustainability; and to explore adding a youth council.

In the email, Scripture also expressed a desire to continue to promote downtown Clawson as a vibrant space for businesses, visitors and residents, as well as to work with state representatives and local leaders to increase revenue sharing in order to support residential services and infrastructure needs.