GP voters to choose school board members, other offices

Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 26, 2016

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In the Grosse Pointe Times’ coverage area, voters will choose two state representatives, a Wayne County commissioner and school board members. Candidates were asked, in 150 words or fewer, to state the top items they wish to accomplish if elected and how they would go about accomplishing them. 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. Profiles appear only for candidates in contested races. For additional information about these candidates and others, visit the League of Women Voters of Grosse Pointe website at or

U.S. House of Representatives District 14
Four candidates are running for one two-year term.

Howard Klausner
Age: 48
Occupation: Physician
Municipality of residence: Southfield
For how long: 48
Online campaign information:
Education: Graduate: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1991-1995 Doctor of Medicine
Baccalaureate:University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan 1986-1990 Bachelor of Science in Engineering
Previously held elected offices: n/a
Top goals: My top three agenda items are balance the budget, improve healthcare and enhance our manufacturing base. My first objective is a balanced budget. The US currently spends hundreds of billions of dollars more than it takes in. This will lead our country to bankruptcy. We must, as legislators, be at the forefront of ensuring the financial security of our children.
Health Care. As an emergency room physician in the heart of Detroit, I have worked with some of the most in need and lowest income. I understand how to increase access and lower costs for everyone.  Good paying manufacturing jobs is what built the middle class. We need to re-structure incentives so that manufacturing jobs are not being exported.  Providing a safe work environment and benefits for workers should be the model for manufacturing, not a punishment for our corporations. We need fair trade policies that accomplish this.

Brenda L. Lawrence (I)
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Gregory Creswell
Age: 59
Occupation: medical records clerk
Municipality of residence: Detroit
For how long: 58 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Chadsey High School grad. class/1975 and attendent Wayne County community college; fire science & fire protection technology
Previously held elected offices: no
Top goals: 1) return the USA to the gold/silver standard via the amendment process. 2) repeal the 16th amendment by sponsoring or co-sponsoring a bill to accomplish that goal. 3) repeal all federal fees, permits, licenses and regulations by sponsoring or co-sponsoring bills to accomplish those goals

Marcia Squier
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

State House of Representatives District 1
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.

William Broman
Age: 24
Occupation: Engineer
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: Life
Online campaign information: “William Broman for Michigan”
Education: B.S. Biomedical Engineering, George Washington University
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: 1) Expand childcare coverage for parents who wish to go to school, 2) establish education technology infrastructure standard, 3) establish standard response to sexual assault on college campuses (based off of S.590 CASA 2015), 4) fund more prosecutors and investigators to close rapekit cases in Detroit, 5) establish “innovation” centers to bring R&D businesses closer to Detroit neighborhoods, and 6) establish the Detroit Policy Research Initiative to craft policy to solve complex problems in the city. More information is available on my website

Brian R. Banks (I)
Age: 39
Occupation: State Representative
Municipality of residence: Harper Woods
For how long: 10 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Bachelor of Science, Wayne State University
Master of Education, Wayne State University
Juris Doctor, Michigan State University College of Law
PhD Candidate, Walden University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Education: ensuring that all school children have access to a quality education with adequate funding & resources regardless of where they live or their socio-economic status. This can be addressed by ensuring all districts receive adequate funding for all students including special education and at-risk students.
Insurance: Prohibit insurance companies from using zip codes, occupations, credit scores, education to determine what our insurance rates are. Insurance companies should only be allowed to use a person’s driving record and annual mileage.
Revenue Sharing: ensure that all municipalities receive their fair share of revenue sharing which supports our police, fire, and other core city services. I would look at changing the funding formula to address communities’ needs and make it more equitable across the board.

State House of Representatives District 2
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.

Anthony Matthew Murray
Did not return questionnaire by press time.

Bettie Cook-Scott
Age: 64
Occupation: Retired
Municipality of residence: Detroit, MI (Wayne County)
For how long: 50+ years
Online campaign information:
Education: Wayne State University & Northwestern University — Police Staffing & Command
Previously held elected offices: State Representative (2 terms)

Wayne County Board of Commissioners District 1
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.

John W. Steininger
Age: 66
Occupation: Executive
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: 12 years in GP Farms, 61 years in the Grosse Pointes
Online campaign information: None
Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Wayne State University 1974
Previously held elected offices: Grosse Pointe Board of Education Trustee 2008-2011, Board president 2010-2011
Top goals: Initial objectives:
1: Deal with Wayne County’s unfunded pension liability. The fund is woefully short of its necessary/obligatory contributions. It remains a fundamental obstacle toward the county’s future financial integrity. Bring expenditures into line with revenue projections despite the difficulty. Work with the county’s bargaining groups to understand the dire consequences of a potential bankruptcy.
2: Settle the ongoing problems of the failed jail fiasco. Chronically wasting revenue through misguided projects exacerbates the county’s overall financial issues. The uncompleted jail project drains county coffers of $40,000 a day! It is the business equivalent of failing to complete a major stadium then charging the ticket holders for games never played.
3: Run Wayne County as a business for the benefit of its residents — Develop policies that attract businesses, promote job growth and stabilize county finances. Offer tax incentives to businesses for renovation, new construction and /or job creation within the county.

Timothy P. Killeen (I)
Age: 59
Occupation: Wayne County Commissioner
Municipality of residence: Detroit
For how long: 51 years
Online campaign information: No campaign website
Education: B.S. Biology, Michigan State University
Detroit DeLaSalle H.S.
Previously held elected offices: Completing 5th term as Wayne County Commissioner
Top goals: 1) Successful completion of the new County Jail: I am committed to getting the sorely needed new jail completed in a way that is both the correct size and the least possible cost to the taxpayers.
2) Evaluation of County Personnel: The County is long overdue to evaluate county-wide staffing. I am pressing for an audit to show whether the County has the correct personnel in the correct jobs. Careful staffing can save a lot of money by not duplicating jobs. I also do not want the situation of not having enough personnel in place to cover all of our responsibilities to our citizens.
3) Continue to Upgrade County Health and Social Services: As Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, I am committed to continuing upgrades to the safety net for our citizens. Services need to be located where citizens have easy access.

Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education
Nine candidates are running for four four-year terms.

Kathleen M. M. Abke (I)
Age: 49
Occupation: Licensed Professional Counselor
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 20+ years
Online campaign information:
Education: B.A. Communication Arts, Oakland University, 1989 (minors in Journalism & Human Resource Development.) M.A. Counseling, Oakland University, 1994
Previously held elected offices: I was unanimously appointed to fill a 6 month vacancy as Board of Education Trustee for the Grosse Pointe Public School System in July, 2016.
Top goals: My top three priorities are:
• Support the district’s Strategic Plan, which is to promote innovation, maximize potential and embrace community.
• Maintain excellence in the district by increasing technology in our classrooms to facilitate 21st century learning.
• Steer the district in a strong and positive direction by supporting our students, staff and administration.

Judy Gafa (I)
Age: 55
Occupation: Director of Nursing
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 20 years
Online campaign information: Judy Gafa For GP schools on Facebook
Education: BSN from Madonna University
Previously held elected offices: Served on the Grosse Pointe Board of Education for 8 years I have been elected twice
Top goals: First and foremost the district, in tandem with the community crafted and adopted a strategic plan. It is imperative to continue to follow the long range goals this cohesive plan lays out.
We must maintain our fiscal responsibility, I have a comprehensive understanding of school financing and will be able to ensure funding is available for high quality programming so our students get the best education.
Technology infrastructure has to be upgraded with a fiscally responsible approach. This means reaching out and partnering with business leaders and municipalities. Having served for 8 years I have developed the relationships to help promote this initiative so our students have the tools they need to succeed post graduation
We must retain our nationally recognized highly qualified teachers. We want the brightest and the best to teach our students. Collaboration and respecting our staff is the best way to do this.

George McMullen
Age: 59
Occupation: Sales Representative Rose Pest Solutions
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods MI
For how long: 17 years
Online campaign information:
Education: B.S. Business Administration Regis College Denver CO 1979
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: I am running for a seat on the Grosse Pointe School Board because I can make a difference by improving the following three areas: Security — ensuring the safety of our students. Technology — ensuring students are able to learn with the most current technology available. Infrastructure — fixing our aging facilities.
A new strategic plan, developed with more than 40 community members, is in place that calls for these improvements. My plan to accomplish these goals is to work with the administration to move forward on these and other initiatives to ensure we remain a premier district in Michigan. The Grosse Pointe Public School System is a stellar school district, witnessed by the highest ACT scores in its history (in 2016). We can’t stay that way, however, without meeting our curricular and infrastructure needs.

Cindy Pangborn (I)
Age: 70
Occupation: Retired Realtor, music teacher and musician
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 9 years, previous  lifelong  resident  Grosse Pointe Farms
Online campaign information:
Education: Northwood University, Central Michigan University
Previously held elected offices: 3 terms Board of Education Trustee, Grosse Pointe Public School System  
Top goals: BUDGET. Strive for a zero based budget with line item veto. Involve community financial professionals to form a finance committee. Search for ways to increase funding WITHOUT becoming a School of Choice.
INCREASE ENROLLMENT. Expand preschool and young five programs. In addition, present other elementary programs that directly compete with private competition. Increase innovations to the middle and high school curriculum.
RESIDENCY FRAUD. Implement existing computer data program for cross checking with our cities to correct fraud. This helps the cities identify and collect non-homesteaded taxes and  schools collect tuition from residency fraud. NOT ONE DIME has been collected of the $200 thousand plus dollars owed. When progress has been made on these solutions, taxpayers will be willing to support financial needs like tech upgrades, security, and infrastructure. My common sense approach is unafraid of discussion and dissent. I am a VOICE FOR THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY!

Christopher Profeta
Age: 35
Occupation: Middle School ELA and Social Studies Intervention Specialist
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 27 years (1981-2004, 2012-Present)
Online campaign information:
Education: BA in English from Michigan State University, MA in English from Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: This is the first time I have run for office.
Top goals: Improve Technology. We need a specific plan for technology that is consistent from building to building and builds from grade to grade. I serve on the computer curriculum committee that is creating this plan. Once that is finished, we can discuss our needs as far as infrastructure and funding.
Expand Pre-K. We have limited pre-k options in Grosse Pointe and a large waiting list for our district programs. I serve on our pre-k advisory committee and support continuing to find ways to expand our program and encourage young families move to Grosse Pointe and remain for K-12.
Support Special Education. As an Intervention Specialist working with struggling learners and a parent of a child with special needs I know that a school district is only as successful as its most struggling students. We need to do everything we can to provide our kids with special needs all possible supports.

Wendy Saigh
Age: 49
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Woods
For how long: 20 years
Online campaign information: facebook page: wendy saigh for grosse pointe school board
Education: BS, Oakland University; JD, Michigan State University Law School (formerly Detroit College of Law)
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1. Improved Financial Situation: I will ensure that fiscally sound decisions are made based on fact, not emotion. I will explore what can be done to increase enrollment, without resorting to “School of Choice.” I will also ensure that fair, proper procurement procedures are followed; maximizing competition and best value to the extent possible.
2. Bringing our schools into the 21st Century: We must ensure that our kids are getting the best education possible. I will pursue a plan for bringing our schools technologically up-to-date in a fiscally responsible way that makes sense in our current environment. I will also encourage innovative teaching methods.
3. Board Transparency and Communication: I will implement a variety of communication tools, such as newsletters and outreach efforts to increase awareness of board activities.

John Shook
Age: 52
Occupation: VP Operations
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how many years: +/- 5 years
Online campaign information:  No answer given
Education: BS Mining Engineering, Butte, MT
MBA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Professional Engineer (inactive), TX
Previously held elected offices: No prior elected experience
Top goals: The greatest challenge facing GPPSS IS the school board. The board must reassert integrity, reasonable spending, and leadership as priorities; immediately withdraw any thoughts of performing a costly $180 million bond study until buildings are repaired; and demonstrate leadership by setting the agenda, not following one.
Grosse Pointe voters have a choice how to achieve this. Allow the school board to continue with wasteful, misappropriated spending and massive bond proposals leading to higher taxes on young families, single parents living in apartments, and elderly retirees on fixed incomes?
Or will a more practical American approach prevail? One where the district spends within its means, does not cost taxpayers more, follows a budget that maintains our buildings, is flexible enough for declining enrollment, provides for our teachers, pays our debts, and invests responsibly in curriculum and technology where student benefits can be quantified?
John Shook is for quality education, responsible spending.

Anne Vanker Mackrell
Age: 50
Occupation: Stay at home mother
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe City
For how long: 15 years
Online campaign information:
Education: No answer given
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: I am an experienced business leader and an engaged parent who believes that, as a school board, we must be both resolute in our goal to provide each student with the best possible educational experience while also realistic in our understanding of certain realities related to budgets, staffing, facilities and technology.   
My top objectives:
1. Improve financial management by introducing a more disciplined and transparent process for budgets and expenditures; address the future by developing a multi-year, facility-specific, spending plan for building improvements and repairs.
2. Build stronger relationships with taxpayers and parents through more frequent communication so we can have long term alignment around objectives.
3. Require empirical evidence as to the effectiveness of technology investments such that we only acquire tools that improve the quality of education and the performance of our teachers.

Biz Williamson
Age: 49
Occupation: Former elementary school teacher/stay-at-home mom
Municipality of residence: Grosse Pointe Farms
For how long: GP resident 40+ years
Online campaign information:
Education: B.S., Western Michigan University, M.A.T., Reading and Language Arts, Oakland University
Previously held elected offices: No answer given
Top goals: As a school board trustee candidate I am committed to:
• Excellence in education in state-of-the-art schools for all district students
• Fiscal responsibility, priority spending and accountability of tax payers’
• Strengthening relationships and improving communication between our community and school.
I come to this candidacy with a background in education, fresh energy and commitment to setting the highest standards for all involved in our district. Through respect for other’s opinions and a desire to hear what is being said, I believe we can simultaneously support our teachers, while regaining the trust of our community. This will help achieve what is our ultimate goal — to launch each student into successful adulthood.

City of Grosse Pointe Park Headlee Override Millage Proposal for Public Safety
Shall the City of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan be authorized to levy for a period of 15 years commencing in 2016 a new additional millage on the taxable property within the City not to exceed the annual rate of 2.75 mills ($2.75 per thousand dollars of taxable value), thereby allowing the levy of Charter-authorized millage in excess of the limit to which it was reduced by Section 31 of Article IX of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, all of which tax revenues will be disbursed to the City of Grosse Pointe Park, for the purpose of maintaining public safety operations, facilities and equipment? In each of the first two years of this authorization, 1.5 mills will be levied resulting in estimated revenue of $855,000 for each of the two years.

Proposition No. 1
Shall Section 5.14 of the Charter of the City of Grosse Pointe Park, entitled “Merit System; Department of Personnel,” be removed from the Charter as it is obsolete due to collective bargaining laws?

Proposition No. 2
Shall Section 6.1 of the Charter of the City of Grosse Pointe Park be amended to change the number of regular monthly meetings from two to one?
Section 6.1 Regular Meetings. The council shall provide by resolution for the time and place of its regular meetings and shall hold at least one regular meeting each month. A regular meeting shall be held on the Monday following each regular city election.

Proposition No. 3
Shall Chapter 14 of the Charter of the City of Grosse Pointe Park, entitled “Supervisors,” be removed (and the remainder of the Charter(s) be renumbered) as it is obsolete because it relates to representation on the County Board of Supervisors and there is no longer a County Board of Supervisors?

Proposition No. 4
Shall Section 15.4(a) of the Charter of the City of Grosse Pointe Park be amended to change the existing limitation on the compensation of the Municipal Judge to a Six Thousand ($6,000.00) Dollar a year minimum and a Thirty Thousand ($30,000.00) Dollar a year maximum from the existing Six Thousand ($6,000.00) Dollar a year minimum and Fifteen Thousand ($15,000.00) Dollar a year maximum which was adopted in 1988?
Section 15.4 Compensation of presiding officer. (a) The presiding officer of the Court shall receive such annual compensation as fixed by ordinance, but not less than Six Thousand ($6,000.00) Dollars nor more than Thirty Thousand ($30,000.00) Dollars per year. The annual compensation of the officer may be increased but shall not be decreased during a term of office except and to the extent of a general salary reduction applicable to all salaried officers of the City. Until otherwise provided by ordinance, the salary of the office shall be Fifteen Thousand ($15,000.00) Dollars per year.

Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan
A Proposal Authorizing the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) to Levy an Assessment
The proposal would authorize the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) to levy within Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties a property tax assessment:
• at a rate of 1.2 mills ($1.20 per $1,000 of taxable value);
• for 20 years beginning in 2016 and ending in 2035;
• that may not be increased, renewed, or used for other purposes without direct voter approval; and
• to be used upon the affirmative vote of an RTA board member from each RTA member jurisdiction for the purpose of construction and operation of a public transportation system connecting Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, including rapid transit bus routes across county lines, specialized service for senior citizens and people with disabilities, commuter rail, airport express service, and other public transportation purposes permitted by law, consistent with RTA bylaws and subject to the limitations of the Regional Transit Authority Act.
If this new additional assessment is approved and levied, revenue will be disbursed to the RTA. It is estimated that $160,907,285 will be collected in the first year.
Should this assessment be approved?

Wayne County Regional Enhancement Millage Proposal
Pursuant to state law, the revenue raised by the proposed enhancement millage will be collected by the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency and distributed to local public school districts within the boundaries of the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency based on pupil membership count.
Shall the limitation on the amount of ad valorem taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, Michigan, be increased by 2.00 mills ($2.00 per thousand dollars of taxable value) for a period of six (6) years, 2016 to 2021, inclusive, as new additional millage to provide operating funds to enhance other state and local funding for local school district operating purposes? It is estimated that 2 mills would raise approximately $80,000,000 when first levied in 2016.
The revenue from this millage will be disbursed to the following school districts: Allen Park Public Schools; Crestwood School District; Dearborn City School District; Dearborn Heights School District #7; Detroit Public Schools Community District ; Ecorse Public School District; Flat Rock Community Schools; School District of the City of Garden City; Gibraltar School District; Grosse Ile Township Schools; The Grosse Pointe Public School System; Hamtramck Public Schools; City of Harper Woods Schools; School District of the City of Highland Park; Huron School District; School District of the City of Lincoln Park; Livonia Public Schools; Melvindale - Northern Allen Park Schools
Northville Public Schools; Plymouth-Canton Community Schools; Redford Union School District
River Rouge School District; Riverview Community School District; Romulus Community Schools
Southgate Community School District; South Redford School District; Taylor School District
Trenton Public Schools; Van Buren Public Schools; Wayne-Westland Community School District
Westwood Community Schools; Woodhaven-Brownstown School District; Wyandotte City School District.