Holland joins Hazel Park City Council, Keeton becomes mayor

City manager, council members share thoughts on new team

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 25, 2017

File photo by Donna Agusti

HAZEL PARK — Jeffrey Keeton, the former mayor pro tem of Hazel Park, has become mayor following the resignation of Jan Parisi. Parisi, the city’s first female mayor, stepped down in December 2016 due to health-and family-related reasons.

Now the Hazel Park City Council has selected Bethany Holland to fill the vacancy left by Keeton when he became mayor.

This is not Keeton’s first time as mayor. Keeton previously served as mayor from 1991 to 1995, and then returned to City Council in 2002, when he was chosen to fill the vacancy left by Jack Lloyd when Lloyd became mayor. Keeton has served ever since.

Holland, meanwhile, has an extensive background of community service. She has committed thousands of hours in a variety of roles. She was volunteer team leader at Hazel Park Animal Control, chairperson of the Ford Road Block Club and citizen coordinator for Neighborhood Watch. She has volunteered at multiple Memorial Day festivals, pet vaccination clinics and other events. She has also served on the Zoning

Board of Appeals and the Board of Review, and as a member of the Historical Commission.

In addition, Holland participated in the Congress for New Urbanism’s study for improvements to the John R Corridor. She completed Oakland County’s One Stop Ready training program, and she is also a trained volunteer for the Community Emergency Response Team. 

Keeton and Holland will both serve the remainder of the term ending this November. Then they can run for office again. The mayor and the top two vote-getters will be elected to four-year terms, while the bottom two vote-getters will have two-year terms. Then in two years, those two can run for four-year terms, putting the mayor and council on staggered four-year terms. This change was approved by Hazel Park residents last November.

City Manager Ed Klobucher said that while he’s sad to see Parisi step down, he respects the decision. He said he has full confidence in the new team.

“Beth (Holland) has demonstrated her commitment to the community, with probably more volunteer hours than anyone else in recent years. She has also served on important boards and committees. She’s very well-qualified,” Klobucher said.

With regard to Keeton, he noted how Keeton’s combined time as mayor and councilman makes him one of the longest-serving officials in the city of Hazel Park, second only to Lloyd.

“Jeff Keeton has been a very solid councilman,” Klobucher said. “He has a long record of service to this community, and he’s a very smart guy.

“We have to continue to try to look for ways to redevelop Hazel Park,” he added. “This is extraordinarily difficult because we are fully built-out.

We have to be aggressive. We’ve had some high-profile successes lately, like the Tri-County Commerce Center, which is the biggest redevelopment project in Oakland County and the biggest building in the history of Hazel Park. We’ve had new restaurants and bars, with more opening soon. We have the Save-A-Lot going up at Eight Mile and Dequindre. We need to continue the momentum. But the residents are the real heroes here. They were smart enough to give us the resources to keep our city strong.”

The new mayor said he’s ready to lead the council.

“I’ve been mayor before, so I appreciate what has to be done,” Keeton said. “It’s interesting being mayor again. The first time I was mayor, back in the early ’90s, the state took away all of our racetrack revenues, so we had to scramble to get some of it back, and we did. And then when I joined City Council, there was the housing market crash. But now I’m mayor again, and it’s nice to finally serve when things are looking up for once. We’re still governing on the edge, even though things are a bit more lucrative now.

“It’s hard to see Jan (Parisi) leave, though,” Keeton said. “She was the quintessential hardworking people’s mayor, always in the mix of things. She did a great job. For her to make the decision to resign, it was not only heartbreaking for her and her family, I’m sure, but also to the family of Hazel Park.

“Now, Beth Holland is another whirlwind who spends enormous amounts of time with the city,” Keeton said of the new councilwoman. “I’m sure she’ll be an excellent fit on council. It won’t take her long to understand what needs to be done.”

Holland said she’s deeply humbled to be selected, and more than a little nervous. She said she’s learning a lot from the veteran council members as she comes to terms with the complexity of the issues facing the city of Hazel Park.

“First off, Jan (Parisi) has been a friend of mine for over 20 years — nobody wants to be appointed to council because of a friend having medical and family concerns,” Holland said. “But I’m a lifelong resident of this area, and Hazel Park has long been my hometown. I’m a very active and engaged citizen, and I’ve always followed the decision-making process. But it’s just setting in how deeply involved I’ll be now. The responsibility has hit home over the past few days. I think I was kind of numb when they made the appointment. But I’ll work very hard to earn the right to sit here. We are making choices in Hazel Park right now that are going to allow us to grow the entire community.”

City Councilman Mike Webb said Holland was an obvious choice for City Council.

“She works hard trying to make things better for everyone. With her background, it was pretty much a no-brainer to have her help us,” Webb said. “We want people with sincerity in their heart to do good for the community. It’s about the future; it’s not just about today. Beth Holland is going to be a great addition to our council who’ll bring new insights when we look at policy. No one person runs the show here; we all work together, and having the right chemistry to do that is kind of rare.

“Jeff (Keeton) is a wonderful person too,” Webb said. “He’ll do a great job as mayor. He’ll really commit to it. He hasn’t missed a beat since ’95. When I appointed him back in 2002 (to fill a vacancy), he reluctantly took the seat, but I’m glad he did, because he’s added so much to the contractual agreements and decisions made over the years. He’s a great asset, and it’s been wonderful to have a person of that integrity make decisions for the city.”

City Councilman Tom Selman said he’s “pleased as heck” to have Keeton be mayor again.

“He’s very experienced at running a meeting, so that’s not foreign territory to him at all,” Selman said. “I’m just sad at the circumstances with Jan having to leave. And Beth Holland, of all the candidates that submitted, she was without a doubt the most well-rounded person. It was an easy decision for me to make. She’s a firecracker, and if she sees something that needs to be done, well, she doesn’t stop until it’s done.”

City Councilman Andy LeCureaux was also excited.

“It’s not that the other candidates wouldn’t work — they were all great — but Beth (Holland) just rose above,” LeCureaux said. “She’s very connected with the community, and she seems ready to hit the ground running. She’ll be going up to the Michigan Municipal League convention in March, where they’ll have classes for newly elected officials. It was nice to see when she was finally sitting up there at the council table, she was kind of nervous; she understands the significance and weight of this position. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and she doesn’t take it lightly. The five of us have a tremendous responsibility, and it’s sobering.”