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Incumbents, challengers vie for Birmingham commission seats

Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 23, 2019


Voters in Birmingham will head to the polls Nov. 5 to decide which four of eight candidates will occupy available seats on the City Commission. Three incumbents will be on the ballot, one of them a write-in, along with four fresh faces.

Voters will also decide whether to renew an operating millage for Birmingham Public Schools that’s set to expire this year, and whether to renew an operating millage to support Oakland Community College.

Following are profiles of the candidates, as well as the exact language of the proposals as they will appear on the ballot.

Candidates were asked, in 75 words or fewer, to state their top goals 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.


Birmingham City Commission
Eight candidates are running for four four-year terms.

Clinton Baller
Age: 62
Municipality of residence: BIRMINGHAM
For how long: 39 years
Online campaign information: BALLER4BHAM.COM
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: My #1 goal is to increase citizen engagement. We need to involve our residents more fully in their government. We need to take better advantage of the incredible talent and resources in our community. Effective tools exist, and we need to put them to work. Residents have proven time and again that if asked and acknowledged, they will contribute their time, and even their money, to making our great city even better.

Patty Bordman (I)
Age: No answer given
Occupation: Attorney, retired
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 25 years+
Online campaign information: No answer given
Education: B.S., Wayne State University; M.A., Oakland University; J.D., cum laude,Wayne State University School of Law
Previously held elected offices: Elected Birmingham City Commissioner, 2015
Top goals: As City Commissioner since 2015, I’m proud to have worked for residents’ benefit. If re-elected, I will pursue these top goals: long-term funding/facility for senior services for our “experienced” residents; continue fiscal oversight to repeat the City’s four-year history of reducing the millage/property tax rate and retaining AAA bond rating; ordinance changes to encourage reasonably priced housing options so people at various life stages can find a home in Birmingham.

Pierre Boutros (I)
Write-in candidate
Age: 46
Occupation: Pharmacist, owner of Mills Pharmacy
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 10 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Doctor of Pharmacy
Previously held elected offices: Birmingham City Commissioner, 2015 - Present
Top goals: -Invest in a larger, permanent location for our senior center. The current shared location is too small to adequately serve our senior community.
-Ensure the timely completion of all three phases of the Baldwin Library renovation to meet modern standards of accessibility and technology.  
-Unite the east and west sides of Woodward through smart development in the Rail District and citywide streetscape improvements to create one unified Birmingham.

Carroll DeWeese (I)
Age: 75
Occupation: Management (Retired from General Motors)
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 30 Years
Online campaign information: DeWeese for Birmingham City Commission
Education: PhD (Purdue); Master of Management (Michigan); Master Citizen Planner (MSU)
Previously held elected offices: Birmingham MI City Commission
Top goals: Restore public trust and confidence in the city.
Listen to citizens and get involvement. Have more residential focus in neighborhoods and downtown with more affordable housing and places to shop.
Strengthen the cultural institutions (library, public arts, NEXT). Proactively manage infrastructure issues (e.g. streets, water, sewers, public facilities, and parking), while reducing city tax rate.
Address parking spillover in neighborhoods from commercial and schools.
Minimize disruptions to homeowners and businesses caused by infrastructure projects.

Jake German
Age: 38
Occupation: Public Affairs Consultant
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 14 years
Online campaign information:
Education: BA, History; BA, Political Science, Hillsdale College
Previously held elected offices: Precinct Delegate, Birmingham’s 8th Precinct
Top goals: I’d like to continue to keep Birmingham on it’s successful path by preserving our AAA bond rating, enhancing our many beautiful parks, maintaining our vibrant downtown, working towards a more transparent city government, maintaining efficiency in the operation of that government, and bringing our community together as we embark on the 2040 Master Plan process. Doing these things will make our community stronger and help keep Birmingham the jewel in Oakland County’s crown!

Brad Host
Age: 70
Occupation: President, Wolverine Contractors, Inc.
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 43 years
Online campaign information:
Education:  English Speaking Union Fellow Scholar — Brighton College, Great Britain,
Fellow — English and Political Economy — University College — University of London, Great Britain, Double Major-English and Political Science — University of Michigan B.G.S. 1972
Previously held elected offices: two terms Trustee, Birmingham School Board
Top goals: Our biggest challenge is eliminating the disconnect between the residents’ priorities and those of the city commission. Homeowners consistently mention high property taxes, senior center issues, unimproved roads, antiquated sewers, cut-through traffic, and development disruption.
Birmingham homeowners’ taxes provide 85% of our city’s revenues. Residents should be better represented and need a voice. The people who live here deserve more consideration, and I want to be their advocate.

Therese Longe
Age: 60
Occupation: Director, Foundation & Corporate Relations, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 35 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Bachelor and Master of Science, Biology, Oakland University
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: Upgrade and improve our neighborhood parks, play structures, and recreational facilities, because they are important to our quality of life, preserving open space and attracting families.
Develop a sustainable funding plan to improve services and activities for our increasing population of older residents, who deserve to have the resources they need to stay in Birmingham.
Develop better ways of engaging with residents to increase transparency, accountability, and collaboration about issues that concern all of us.

Matt Wilde
Age: 35
Occupation: Management Consulting, Attorney
Municipality of residence: Birmingham
For how long: 6 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Birmingham Ernest W. Seaholm High School 2002 (Harlan Elementary, Derby Middle School)
University of Michigan BA (Economics) 2006
Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School JD (Law) 2012
Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School LLM (Corporate Law and Finance) 2013
University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business MBA (Business Administration) 2018
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: A fourth-generation resident, and father of two young children, I will be a voice for the younger families. My goals are to promote our top ranked schools, improve our parks, and bring everyone together. We’re all on the same team. When we are fighting with each other all that happens is Birmingham loses.


Birmingham Public Schools Replacement Operating Millage Proposal
This proposal would restore, replace and extend the authority of the Birmingham Public Schools to levy up to 18.00 mills for general school district operating purposes on taxable property in the School District to the extent that such property is not exempt from such levy and would restrict the levy on principal residences (owner occupied homes) to no more than 14.24 mills. The original authority to levy 18 mills, which currently expires with the School District’s 2021 tax levy, has been rolled back to 17.5821 mills by application of the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution. If approved, this proposal would restore and extend the authority of the School District to levy the statutory limit of 18 mills on non-homestead (principally industrial and commercial real property and residential rental property) and allow the School District to continue to levy the statutory limit of 18 mills on non-homestead property in the event of future Headlee rollbacks of up to 3 mills. Under existing law, if approved, this proposal would also limit the levy of the authorized mills on principal residences to that portion necessary to allow the School District to receive the full revenue per pupil foundation allowance permitted by State law. The School District levied 7.1948 mills on personal residences in 2019.
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the Birmingham Public Schools, County of Oakland, Michigan, be increased to 21 mills, with 18 mills being the maximum allowable levy ($18.00 per $1,000 of taxable value), to the extent such property is not statutorily exempt, and of which not more than 14.24 mills may be imposed on principal residences, for ten (10) years, the years 2019 to 2028, inclusive, to provide funds for operating expenses of the School District? This millage would raise approximately $51,393,404 in the first year of levy.


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.