Council applicants speak to council before appointment

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 5, 2018

BERKLEY — Before the appointment of a new Berkley City Council member, six applicants came before the City Council to introduce themselves and state why they should be selected.

At a special meeting Monday, Feb. 26, the six finalists — Susan Citraro, Bridget Dean, Natalie Price, Charlene Kondrat, Charles Tyrrell and Jessica Lumbreras — spoke to the council before one of them would be appointed to the vacant seat left by Alan Kideckel.

The vacant seat was scheduled to be filled on March 5.

“The reality is we’re at six right now and only one spot (is) available,” Mayor Dan Terbrack said. “There will be five folks, unfortunately, who won’t be able to serve at this time, but we certainly want everyone to stay engaged and to get involved and be involved in the city in any way possible.”

Citraro, a resident of 23 years, touted her bachelor’s degree in management and MBA in international business as pluses. She also said she works in banking and deals with money frequently, and is active in community groups and working events.

“The reason I applied for this City Council position is I feel my background gives me a different perspective. It adds diversity and it complements the people who are already on it,” she said.

Citraro said she feels she has a good grasp on issues that the city is facing now and in the future from attending many City Council and Planning Commission meetings over the last 18 months. Her goals for the position would be focusing on engagement, education and empowerment.

Dean’s background includes a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a master’s degree in social work; she worked in mental health at the community level and in private practice; she opened her own business; and she currently serves as the vice chair of the Berkley Downtown Development Authority.

“Each position that I’ve held has honed my listening, communication and problem-solving skills,” she said. “I lead a team at my business every day. I know how to make a business run, and I know how to make the trains run on time. Being a Berkley resident and business owner gives me a unique perspective, which I believe will allow me to serve thoughtfully and effectively on City Council.

“In my opinion, the momentum that our city has and the positive vibe that can be felt throughout the city is due to a City Council working together in a caring and civil way,” she said.

Price said she’s a stay-at-home mom and has a part-time position teaching a parent-tot class at the Community Center, though, if appointed, she will continue to work as a volunteer for Parks and Recreation and will no longer be a city employee. She said she previously was an educator, teaching high school English. She said her role as a caregiver provides a valuable perspective to add to council.

“I am uniquely aware of the challenges that full-time caregivers face,” she said. “I’ve responded to them with my work through the MOMS Club of Berkley, Backyard Playroom and my work at the Community Center. Supporting the caregivers of our youngest residents has been my main focus since I’ve moved here, and I believe it’s a crucial investment in our city’s future. I look forward to adding this perspective to the voices on City Council.

“When I face an important decision, I gather the facts, talk to experts and ultimately implement the best practices available. If appointed to council, I plan to help resuscitate the communications board so that we can explore and use technology in order to better solicit feedback from all residents.”

Kondrat, a resident of 38 years, said she’s been a past member of the Junior Women’s Club, the Beautification Committee and served as an American Red Cross volunteer. She currently is a secretary to the principal of Berkley High.

“My extensive work and volunteer experience provides me with a unique skill set that will bring a new and fresh perspective to the issues facing the council and the city of Berkley,” she said. “As an active listener, I’m open-minded and have practical experience in bringing people of opposing views into conversation together to solve problems. Berkley, like other cities, faces difficult and challenging issues.

“However, with challenges come very exciting opportunities. My plan is to work diligently towards a bright and secure future for the residents in the city. I envision the exceptional city services will continue to be maintained,” she said.

Tyrrell has lived in Berkley for 30 years, and he served on the city’s Tree Board for around 25 years. During that time, he said, he did a lot of outreach and a lot of talking to people, which he also did when he campaigned for City Council last year.

“It’s amazing how much everybody has ... similar issues of roads, sewers and water,” he said. “They did not talk much about building community centers, pools or ice arenas. Where their focus more was, how can we afford to keep what we’ve got? How can we afford to keep operating them?

“What I bring is a diversity in ideas and a diversity in thoughts,” he said. “I am not part of anybody’s club or party or any of that. I’m nonpartisan, as this is all supposed to be.”

Lumbreras, a new resident of the city who moved to Berkley two years ago, said her background is in community organizing, and she worked in the Michigan Legislature for several years, traveling the state to build understanding of how state and local government affects citizens day to day. She said she currently works at the Michigan Education Association.

She said the community is great because of the time everyone spends volunteering and serving and, with the vacancy, she felt it was her duty to practice what she preaches and get involved.

“The very basis of my purpose and everyone’s purpose on council is to represent my fellow neighbors and taxpayers to the best of my ability, because they take care of me and my family,” she said. “There is a special opportunity in this vacancy to build new relationships and trust with a fresh face looking to bring people together.”