Ferndale, Berkley voters to elect mayors, council members

Woodward Talk | Published October 23, 2019

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In the Talk’s coverage area, voters Nov. 5 will elect candidates for local offices and decide on three proposals.

Candidates were asked, in 75 words or fewer, to state their top goal(s) if elected. If a candidate went over the word limit, (…) replaces the rest of the answer. (I) indicates that the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim except where material is omitted due to personal attacks or items we know to be false or that are blatant misrepresentations.

Profile forms were not sent to candidates who are running unopposed, which includes candidates in Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge elections.

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

Melanie Piana
Age: 46
Occupation: Non-Profit
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 15 years
Online campaign information: www.melaniepiana.com
Education: Harvard Kennedy School, Executive Education, Senior Executives in State and Local Government, 2018; Wayne State University, Masters in Urban Planning, Urban Planning 2003-2008; Albion College:  BA Communications and German 1995-1998
Previously held elected offices: Ferndale City Councilwoman, Former (10 years), Mayor Pro Tem 2x
Top goals: I’m passionate about solving problems and creating opportunities for Ferndale. My top priorities:
Belonging + Wellbeing: I’m a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Maintain Quality City Services: I have experience successfully managing the city’s budget. I will maintain strong and responsible budget oversight.
Housing Affordability:  I’m committed to ensuring housing choices for all through smart growth.
Environmental Sustainability: I will search for ways to become a carbon-neutral city that are within our means.

Brian Stawowy
Age: 31
Occupation: Manufacturing Engineer
Municipality of residence: City of Ferndale
For how long: 6 years
Online campaign information: BrianForFerndaleMayor.com
Education: Bachelors of Science in Engineering
Previously held elected offices: Non-Establishment
Top goals: 1. Permanently Affordable Housing – NO MORE LUXURY DEVELOPMENTS. Establish Community Land Trust to provide affordable homeownership opportunities to working families and stability through economic ups & downs. Protect public housing from privatization.
2. Local Green New Deal — Address Climate Crisis by adding environmental requirements to city projects. Retrofit municipal buildings to carbon-neutral and waste-free by 2030.
3. Sanctuary for all — Refuse cooperation with ICE. Form Human Rights Commission & Police Accountability Board. Transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.

 

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

Ben Buttolph
Age: 34
Occupation: Senior Project Manager
Municipality of residence: City of Ferndale
For how long: 3+ Years
Online campaign information: www.BenForFerndale.com
Education: Attended FIT in New York, NY
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: First and foremost, I’m running to be a voice for the everyday Ferndale resident. I was a vocal opponent of the Baker College deal in which Council ignored the pleas of residents and I’m seeking greater transparency. It’s time for a Council of diverse and varied opinions, not just a rubber stamp for Big Development projects that give little to nothing back to our community. I’m also for common-sense money saving solutions and lowering taxes.

Nada Daher
Age: 32
Occupation: Intraoperative Neuromonitoring Technologist
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 6 years
Online campaign information: nadaforcouncil.org
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: I am interested in addressing housing affordability in Ferndale. We have allowed too many luxury developments and it has pushed many people out of our city. I am also committed to addressing climate change in our city by ensuring all municipal buildings are carbon neutral and zero-waste by 2030, and addressing the impact climate change will have on our city by updating our water infrastructure. My goal is to build a Ferndale for all.

Augusto Flores
Age: 38
Occupation: Vice President - Strategy and Special Projects
Municipality of residence: Ferndale, MI
For how long: ~10 years
Online campaign information: www.FloresForFerndale.com
Education:Bachelor of Science, Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy
Master of Business Administration, Oakland University
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: I will focus on 3 priorities, which I am calling the GPS Plan. This is a plan focused on Growth, Public Investment, and Services. Growth — that is fair, balanced, and inclusive; preserving the uniqueness of our community. Public Investment — that is responsible, sustainable, and transparent.  Ensuring our taxes are utilized for the best interest of the community. Services — continue with our strong community services, with a strong support of public safety, strong alignment with schools.

Kat Bruner James
Age: 40
Occupation: Civil Rights Attorney
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 17 years
Online campaign information: katbrunerjames.com
Education: BA from Albion College; JD from University of Detroit Mercy
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1-Strengthen community engagement and communication. Fill vacancies on boards and commissions. Encourage neighborhood organizations. 2-On the global climate crisis: promote sustainable architecture and landscaping, including increased native plant species and ensuring that zoning and ordinances allow for rooftop solar panels and/or landscaping, leverage local experts, limit single-use plastics in public purchases, and more. 3-Implement ranked choice voting, as supported by Ferndale voters in 2004. Conduct a public education campaign for implementation.

Raylon Leaks-May (I)
Age: 50
Occupation: Resource Specialist
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 30+ years
Online campaign information: Raylon4Ferndale.org
Education: BA, Madonna University,  A.A & A.S., Oakland Community College
Previously held elected offices: Ferndale City Council, 2016-Present, Ferndale Public Schools Board of Education, 2012-2015.
Top goals: *Equitable development at a reasonable pace and mindful to the needs of all of our residents.
* Better communication efforts between the city leadership and residents.
* Affordable, diverse, creative and inclusive housing options within the City of Ferndale.
* Continue to build bridges between the city and the schools as well as pursue collaborative efforts with neighboring municipalities.

 

Ferndale City Council-Partial Term Ending Jan. 1, 2022
Four candidates are running for one two-year term.

Rolanda Kelley
Age: 45
Occupation: Senior Manager Costco Wholesale
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 3 years
Online campaign information: www.rolandakelley.com, Rolanda Kelley for Ferndale City Council on Facebook
Education: Early Childhood Development-Athens State,  Dale Carnegie Business Management & Leadership Certification
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: Sustainability-Establish urban growth boundaries to maximize green spaces & protect our parks from over development. Implement a food compost program for residents & businesses to increase environmental sustainability, reduce waste & prevent city pest issues. Responsible Growth-Thoughtful development that promotes diversity, equity & inclusion. Connectivity-Improve engagement between residents, businesses & city influencers so all voices have a seat at the table in decision making. Invest in a modernized, vibrant community center.

Laura Mikulski
Age: 38
Occupation: Director of Business Development
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 13 years
Online campaign information: www.laura4ferndale.com  
Education: Bachelor of Science - Business Management, Accounting  
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals:
• Explore how to ensure affordable housing WITHOUT a ‘build baby build’ mentality that only serves to enrich developers & vendors.
• Analyze our budget so that we minimize how much we pay expensive 3rd party vendors.
• Commit to protecting & preserving our greenspaces for current and future generations to enjoy.
• Improve downtown sanitation and a citywide effort to reduce rat issues safely & effectively, including distribution of rat-proof trash cans for all residents.

Maryanne Wessels
Age: 42
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 18 years
Online campaign information: Facebook: @mwforferndale (Maryanne Wessels for Ferndale City Council)
Education: University of Michigan, BFA, 1999
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: Managing the amazing growth Ferndale has seen over the last few years is certainly a priority. It is essential to ensure we are making choices that benefit all of Ferndale’s residents. In addition, we need to make sure we continue to support small businesses in our downtown and the ever expanding outlying business districts. We can do this by passing ordinances and zoning that benefit existing businesses, as well as those that are emerging.

Dennis G. Whittie (I)
Age: 41
Occupation: Attorney & Emergency Management Coordinator
Municipality of residence: Ferndale
For how long: 34 years
Online campaign information: www.denniswhittie.com
Education: Master of Public Administration (Wayne State University), Juris Doctor (WMU-Thomas M. Cooley Law School), Bachelor of Arts, Political Science (Wayne State University), Associate of Applied Science, Criminal Justice (Oakland Community College), and Associate of Liberal Arts (Oakland Community College), Ferndale High School graduate (Class of 1995).
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: (1) Maintain & improve city services: Maintain our quick 911 Police & Fire response. We must provide training and development for all city employees to improve. (2) Manage our growth as a community: We must assure that any new development fits within Ferndale community standards. (3) Increase community engagement: I will focus on interaction between city leaders and residents. When a resident requests information or a response, that request must be acknowledged.

 

Berkley Mayor
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.

Robert B. Lathrop
Age: 50
Occupation: No answer given
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 50 years
Online campaign information: #bobforberkley on Facebook
Education: Medical technologist & educator
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Born in Berkley. Graduate of Berkley High Class of 1987. I am OPPOSED to the Coolidge road diet. I have more free time to serve Berkley. I intend to serve with the Michigan Association of Mayors, Michigan Municipal League, lobby the County and the State to benefit Berkley. Special interest; Public Works, Parks and Rec., GIS technology, develop the vision to build to improve Berkley. I will be hands on and active.

Daniel J. Terbrack (I)
Age: 39
Occupation: Financial Advisory
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 39 years
Online campaign information: No answer given
Education: MA in Educational Leadership, BA in Secondary Education
Previously held elected offices: Berkley City Council, Nov. 2007-2017
Top goals: The top priority is always being a good steward of the city’s resources. Berkley is in a strong fiscal position, evident by our bond rating, a 40% fund balance, significant capital investment in FY 2019-2020, and continuing to fund our long-term liabilities. The next priority is infrastructure. We need to preserve and upgrade our roads, strategically identify ways to alleviate the stress on our combined water and sewer system, and upgrade or replace municipal buildings.   

 

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

Susan Citraro
Age: 55
Occupation: Vice President in Wealth Management for Comerica Bank
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 24 years
Online campaign information: www.suecitraroforcouncil.com
Education: Bachelor of Science in Management from Oakland University; Master of Business Administration from Walsh College.
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: My priority is for more open, honest and thoughtful communication between the city and its residents using what I call my 3 E’s — Engagement, Education and Empowerment. My second priority is creating a long-term plan for our sewers. What that may look like will require working with Oakland County and the State of Michigan. My third priority is to help achieve Berkley’s Redevelopment Ready Community certification which will make redevelopment transparent, efficient and predictable.

Bridget Dean (I)
Age: 58
Occupation: Berkley business owner, “…have you any Wool?”
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 15 years
Online campaign information: www.bridgetforberkley.com
Education: BA Psychology, Master of Social Work
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1. Roads/Infrastructure: I’ll work with the county and state to solve the flooding problem. I support Berkley’s Catch Basin Replacement Program along with city-wide sewer televising, cleaning and structural lining programs. 2. Budget: Berkley has a AA bond rating and our budget work sessions are open to the public. I’ll work to ensure that transparent practices continue. 3. Vibrant Downtown: I support the efforts of our DDA to attract and retain valued business.

Ross Gavin (I)
Age: 33
Occupation: Deputy Treasurer, Oakland County Treasurer’s Office
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: About four and a half years
Online campaign information: www.rossgavin.com
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and History from Albion College, Master’s Degree in Political Science from Wayne State University, Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: Berkley City Councilmember, Appointed Dec. 2017 – Present
Top goals: First, we need to maintain and upgrade our city’s infrastructure through regional and state cooperation while incorporating green infrastructure measures. Second, we must continue to promote honest and transparent budgeting practices while aggressively funding our long-term pension and health care liabilities. Third, improve communication with residents, embracing all forms, from social media to face-to-face interactions. Finally, continue to preserve Berkley’s quality of life by supporting public safety, parks and recreation and our outstanding school district.

Nitin Naidu
Age: 42
Occupation: Self Employed
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 1.5 years
Online campaign information: www.facebook.com/NaiduForBerkley
Education: Bachelors of Science Business Administration University of Southern Indiana
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: My top priority is to PRESERVE the things that make Berkley a great community, such as our safety, schools, and city services. I will bring a FRESH PERSPECTIVE as I have no ties to any local groups or anyone in City Council. I am here for our residents. Whether you have lived in Berkley your whole life or are new and looking to set your roots, I want to be your voice at the table.

Natalie Price
Age: 38
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Mom / Teacher
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 4.5 years
Online campaign information: Price4Berkley.com
Education: MA English Studies, University of Exeter, UK. BA English and Classics (Ancient Societies), Vassar College, NY.
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: As a mom, my first priority is safety; I plan to increase collaboration on the regional and state levels in order to improve our aging sewer system. As a former high school English teacher and the current Chair of the Citizens Engagement Advisory Committee, I plan to improve communication between the city and the residents. As a neighbor, I plan to encourage and support diverse housing options and small-scale developments that fit Berkley’s unique character.

Charles A. Tyrrell
Age: No answer given
Occupation: No answer given
Municipality of residence: Berkley
For how long: 32 Years
Online campaign information: www.face book.com/ChuckforBerkley
Education: BSBA Finance
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Reading the Code is pretty easy, follow it. History shows that when process is not followed dire consequences happen. Restoring the nonpartisan nature of City Council we can accomplish great things. We can present points of view, even disagreement, yet still be courteous. Now is time to focus on priorities and to turn attention on other areas such as long term financial obligations. I am the one to do so. I am here to serve.


Huntington Woods Mayor
One candidate is running for one four-year term.

Robert F. Paul III (I)
Running unopposed.


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

Michelle Elder (I)
Running unopposed.

Jeffrey Jenks (I)
Running unopposed.


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

Christopher Budnik
Running unopposed.

Ann Perry (I)
Running unopposed.


Berkley School District Operating Millage Proposal
This proposal will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance.
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Berkley School District, Oakland County, Michigan, be increased by 3 mills ($3.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 3 years, 2020, 2021 and 2022, to provide funds for operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2020 is approximately $287,700 (this millage is to restore millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and will be levied only to the extent necessary to restore that reduction)?


Oakland Community College Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
This proposal authorizes Oakland Community College to continue to levy 0.7545 mill for operating purposes for 10 years as a renewal of millage previously approved by the electors in 2010, which expires with the 2021 tax levy.
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be levied on all taxable property within the Oakland Community College district, State of Michigan, be renewed at a rate of 0.7545 mill ($0.7545 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2022 through 2031, inclusive, to provide funds for College operating purposes? It is estimated that if the millage is approved and 0.7545 mill is levied in 2022, it would raise $45,065,057 for the College.

 

Pleasant Ridge Proposal 2019 - 1 Library Services Millage Renewal Proposal
Shall the City of Pleasant Ridge authorize a renewal of up to 0.5 mills for a period of five years, for years 2020 through 2024, inclusive, in excess of its Charter authorized tax rate as reduced by Section 31, Article IX, of the 1963 State Constitution, such additional millage to be used to provide library services? If approved and levied in its entirety, this millage would raise an estimated $80,106.64 in 2020.

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