Candidates for Rochester Hills mayor, City Council to face off at upcoming forum

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 6, 2023


ROCHESTER HILLS — The Nov. 7 election is drawing near, and the Rochester Hills mayor position and a couple of Rochester Hills City Council seats are open.

The public will get a chance to learn more about the candidates for each position during a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Oakland Area at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Rochester Hills City Hall, 1000 Rochester Hills Drive.

Two candidates are competing for the office of mayor — current Mayor Bryan K. Barnett, who is campaigning as a write-in candidate, and challenger Ariane Paviani.

Barnett, who has been mayor for 17 years, is running as a write-in candidate for the third consecutive time. Barnett has been serving as mayor of Rochester Hills since 2006, winning elections on the ballot in 2007 and 2011, along with winning write-in campaigns in 2015 and 2019. Although term limits in the Rochester Hills City Charter prohibit a mayor from seeking reelection on the ballot after having served two full consecutive terms, the charter sets no limits for how many times a mayor can run as a write-in candidate.

Barnett said his job is one that he “absolutely loves and is passionate about every day.”

“There are still so many things that I’d like to see happen in the community,” Barnett said. “I still love the blessing of being mayor. I still feel like I’m able to make a difference and I feel like I still have a lot to give.”

Paviani — who grew up in Rochester Hills, on the south side, and attended Rochester Community Schools — said she has felt called to serve ever since she was young. Locally, she started volunteering and working with Kensington Community Church and later went on to work internationally as an advocate for an anti-human-trafficking nonprofit organization for four years. She returned to Rochester six years ago and began working as a technology assistant at Rochester Community Schools temporarily, before going back to school to get a degree in political science.

Paviani said her goal is to make Rochester Hills’ government “a collective government.”

“I just saw the city start to change in a way that was a little alarming to me — where it was becoming more and more inaccessible in a way, and I wanted to make sure that it stayed a place where the people who grew up in Rochester Hills could continue to live in Rochester Hills,” said Paviani. “I just noticed development was going up all over the place and it didn’t seemingly make sense. … It just added to why I wanted to run more. I felt like someone needs to run, but also we need to protect Rochester Hills from becoming overdeveloped and losing the feel that we know and love of the city.”

At the council level, two candidates are running for one, four-year Rochester Hills City Council seat representing the second district — incumbent David J. Blair and challenger Nicholas A. Sahu.

Blair, who works in technology services and has lived in the city since 2008, has been serving as the District 2 council member since 2019.

“The city is on a great path. We have an outstanding team that works for the city, and the council works well together and with the administration, so, for the benefit of our residents, I want to keep a great thing going,” Blair said. “I enjoy what I do. What we do is important, and it’s an honor to be able to represent such a fantastic area.”

Sahu, a lifelong resident of Rochester Hills and a graduate of OU, has a background in public administration and public policy. He previously worked as a policy analyst for the Detroit City Council and is currently working in government procurement as a contract specialist. Sahu says he loves Rochester Hills.

“My passion has always been local. I believe we can solve a lot of our issues and make sure that we have a smooth government on the local level,” he said. “When I look at some of the last local elections and the fact that we don’t see a lot of candidates challenged, I felt the need to step up.”

Two candidates are also running unopposed for two, four-year council member at-large seats — incumbent Theresa Mungioli and Marvie Neubauer. They will not be included in the forum because they are running unopposed.

Mungioli, who has lived in the city for over 32 years, was elected to council in 2019. She is also a past Rochester Community Schools Board of Education member, serving from 1993-2001. She is currently a certified project manager working at General Motors and has also served on the boards of various community coalitions in Oakland County. Mungioli could not be reached for comment at press time.

Neubauer, a full-time attorney who has been practicing law for about 15 years, has lived in the city for over 20 years. Her whole family lives in Rochester Hills, so she said it’s really important to her that it’s “a good community for every age group.” Neubauer has served on the city’s Planning Commission for the last four years and is a member of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m a Christian, so I was raised with the service mentality, that you have to serve others before you serve yourself,” she said. “I’m really hoping to keep the city moving in the right direction, and with honesty and integrity.”

This event will be videotaped to be seen on the Rochester Hills city channel and linked to the League of Women Voters Oakland Area website.

To learn more about LWVOA, visit