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Grosse Pointe City Council selects lifelong resident to fill vacancy

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 11, 2020

GROSSE POINTE CITY — As a mother of two children with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a rare degenerative neuromuscular disease, Maureen Juip, of Grosse Pointe City, said she found herself “thrust into the role of being a parent advocate,” raising money and awareness of FA with her family.

That makes her someone uniquely positioned to tackle daunting challenges, and likely figured into the Grosse Pointe City Council’s decision to appoint her to fill a council vacancy left when former City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak was elected mayor last fall. During a meeting Feb. 10, Tomkowiak said the council voted unanimously to appoint Juip — whose last name is pronounced “yipe” — to the seat.

“I thought it was an opportunity to give back,” Juip said of applying for the council vacancy.

A lifelong City resident, Juip has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from U-M. She has a professional background in chemical engineering, business and marketing, and strategic planning.

A mother of five children, she has been a stay-at-home parent for the last 10 years. During that time, she has volunteered at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School and been active raising funds and awareness of FA.

Juip was one of seven candidates for the council vacancy who addressed the City Council during a special meeting Jan. 27. The other candidates were:

• Matthew Bontomasi, a Grosse Pointe Boat Club board member and vice president of operations for Wolverine Stone Co.

• U.S. Army veteran Patricia Drury, who owns a business teaching leadership and professional development.

• David Fries, a former council candidate who has been attending council meetings regularly for the last three years; owns a company that manages commercial and residential properties; and budgets, tests and maintains Stryker combat vehicles for the military.

• Dr. Seth Krupp, an emergency physician, vice chair of operations for the Department of Emergency Medicine for Henry Ford Health System and medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine for Henry Ford Hospital.

• Eileen Proudlock, special projects chair of the Maire Elementary School PTO and a volunteer who worked to pass the 2019 Grosse Pointe Public School System millage proposals and advocated for the GPPSS retaining Maire during 2019 district reconfiguration talks.

• Michael Ratliff, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who works as vice president of sales for a Japanese company that has opened its first office in America.

City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. said he commended Juip for her work on behalf of FA.

“Do you think you’re still going to have enough time to dive in on City Council?” Parthum asked her.

“I do,” Juip responded, noting that all of her children are now in school all day. “During the day, I do have a lot of time.”

Because of her responsibilities with her family and traveling with her two oldest children so that they can participate in FA medical research studies in the search for a cure, Juip said she hasn’t been able to return to the workforce in a traditional capacity, but said she has the time, passion and energy to contribute to her community.

“I’d be honored to have the opportunity to give back,” Juip told the council Jan. 27.

As to what she wants to see the council do, Juip cited maintaining oversight on capital projects to make sure those stay on track and on budget; making sure businesses remain sustainable on Kercheval and Mack avenues; and continuing to do beautification work at Neff Park.
Tomkowiak — who last month asked her fellow council members to come up with a list of their top three candidates from the applicants — acknowledged that the council was faced with “a very difficult decision” in light of the large number of qualified applicants, a sentiment echoed by her fellow council members.

“Your credentials are just outstanding,” City Councilman John Stempfle told the candidates last month. “You all have so much to offer.”

At the Jan. 27 meeting, City Councilman Daniel Williams also told the candidates their strong backgrounds were going to make this “a very difficult decision” for the council. But Williams — who himself had once applied to fill a council vacancy — urged the applicants to consider running for office in the future if they weren’t appointed, as he did.

“Don’t give up — you can run (for office),” Williams said. “Stay engaged, stay involved.”

City Councilman Christopher Walsh likewise encouraged all of the applicants to “stay engaged with the City.”