Five candidates look to fill single spot on city commission

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 1, 2020


MOUNT CLEMENS — By the time a spot on the Mount Clemens City Commission is filled, it will be almost one year since it became vacated.

In the Aug. 4 primary election, Mount Clemens voters will decide which one of five candidates will fill the empty commissioner seat. Candidates are vying for one partial term, which ends November 2021.

The commission seat became open in September following the death of Bill “Sonny” Ford. In December, after four votes on whom to appoint, the Mount Clemens City Commission agreed to vote again at a January meeting, which came away with similar results. At that point, the commission agreed for a special election to happen in August.   

Wanda Goodnough, Kathleen Kelchner, Troy Mitchell, Gina Palazzolo New and

Denise Pike Guzman are the candidates.

Goodnough said she prides herself on being a working mother, perpetual student and lifelong pursuer of knowledge.

“I have committed myself to the promotion of education by helping others to understand the value of experience,” she said.

Goodnough has an associate degree in food management, bachelor’s and master's degrees in health care administration, and a doctorate in organizational development and leadership, with concentrations in corporate training, e-learning and organizational diversity.

“I understand there needs to be change within the city of Mount Clemens and Macomb County,” she said. “I’m looking forward to work with Mount Clemens city commission and Mayor Kropp.”

She spent her career in food management and currently is the president of the National Council of Negro Women, Macomb Chapter.

Pike Guzman, 58, works as development director at Community Health and Social Services. She has a master’s degree in urban planning and a bachelor’s degree in communications.

“I’m running for city commission because I know that Mount Clemens residents pay for and deserve comprehensive public services,” she said. “Due to COVID-19, these services are in danger of drastic cuts that will have an unwelcome ripple effect in both our neighborhoods and our downtown core. My goal is to find creative ways to bridge budget gaps, enhancing the quality of life in our neighborhoods and strengthening our downtown to protect local businesses.”

Through her work, she said she knows how to find funds for vital programs within the complex political and bureaucratic systems of local government.

“I know that Mount Clemens is a great place to live, but we still have work to do for Mount Clemens to evolve into the city our residents envision,” Pike Guzman said. “As a member of the city commission, I will work to make our vision a reality.”

Mitchell, 32, is an entrepreneur with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

His top goals are to rebrand downtown to include diverse revenue streams and community engagement; collaborate with community leaders across Mount Clemens to create a unified vision for the future of the city and those living in it; and work with his educational network to re-imagine the future of the city’s schools.

“Through my vast experience in leadership and team building, I have learned that my leadership style is flexible yet cohesive, specializing in gaining consensus in diverse groups of people,” Mitchell said. “I am committed to bringing a breath of fresh air to our city by taking a whole new look at how we are collaborating, leading with integrity, operating with transparency and engaging our youth.”

Mitchell believes it’s essential to bring folks together right now and create a new norm where people can ensure their differences inform leaders’ decisions.

Kelchner and Palazzolo did not respond for comment by press time.