Monica Hunt appointed to fill Royal Oak City Commission vacancy

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 11, 2021

 On Dec. 21, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously appointed Monica Hunt to the seat vacated by former Commissioner Randy LeVasseur.

On Dec. 21, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously appointed Monica Hunt to the seat vacated by former Commissioner Randy LeVasseur.

Photo provided by Monica Hunt

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ROYAL OAK — On Dec. 21, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously appointed labor and employment litigation attorney Monica Hunt to replace former Commissioner Randy LeVasseur following his Nov. 23 resignation.

Hunt, the first Black resident to serve on the Royal Oak City Commission, was set to be sworn in Jan. 11, after press time. Her term will expire Nov. 22.

“I want to be part of the community, part of the city, and put my stamp on it any way I can, help lead in any way I can,” Hunt said in a Jan. 4 interview with C & G Newspapers. “There’s so much that’s changing in the world and in our community. I look forward to being able to assist with the change and evolution of our community.”

She said that being the first Black commissioner in Royal Oak is “a bit surprising,” but she feels that inclusion and diversity are important for a community in which all residents feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

“I think now is when leadership needs to represent the community,” Hunt said. “I’m grateful I get to be a representative for every single voice in Royal Oak. I know the importance of the role and the responsibility, and I don’t take that lightly at all. I can’t wait to start serving.”

As a commissioner, Hunt said her goal is to find creative ways to bridge budget gaps, bolster economic development in the face of COVID-19, and strengthen the city’s downtown to protect local businesses.

“A strong small business presence gives a city like ours its character,” Hunt wrote in her application. “Small businesses are often the soul of a community and are crucial to the economic health of a community.”

She also said she feels it is “incumbent on leadership to develop city-wide methods to slow or eliminate the impact of climate change” and to mitigate damage done as a result of climate change.

Hunt underscored the importance of a well-trained and experienced police force to provide residents with a sense of security, as well as a strong education system that meets the academic, social and emotional needs of students and their families.

Hunt, who has lived in Royal Oak for 13 years, has been a member of the Michigan Foster Care Review Board Program for the last two years, reviewing foster care placements in Oakland and Macomb counties and working toward reunification with biological parents or permanent placement with foster parents.

In her application, she said she felt the experience would help her “step outside of the box and find ways to do what is best for the citizens of Royal Oak rather than simply relying on what has been done in the past.”

She has also chaired multiple committees — including buildings and grounds, child care oversight, and stewardship and finance — and the church council for the First Baptist Church of Detroit.

Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Paruch said she was impressed with Hunt’s educational background, which includes a business administration degree from Michigan State University and a juris doctor from the Wayne State University Law School, as well as her leadership on various bodies.

“If you can work effectively in a leadership role on a committee, it means you know how to build consensus and you know how to move projects forward. That’s what we do — try to build consensus and move projects forward in the community,” Paruch said.

Mayor Michael Fournier said Hunt’s resume matches her energy and ambition and he felt she would be an “excellent contributor to this body.”

LeVasseur moved out of Royal Oak to Oxford Township, where he and his wife “will have a longer commute but will enjoy being surrounded by nature,” he said. In order to serve on the City Commission, commissioners must reside in the city.

The city was able to quickly solicit a second round of applications for the open seat due to the untimely death of Commissioner Kim Gibbs at age 48 Aug. 20. She reportedly suffered a seizure in her home, where her mother found her unresponsive Aug. 5. She never regained consciousness.

On Sept. 28, the City Commission unanimously appointed Brandon Kolo to fill the remainder of Gibbs’ term, which also expires Nov. 22. The commission received 41 applications through the modified online application the city uses for appointments to boards, committees and task forces.

Hunt was among the contenders for Gibbs’ seat, and her name was near the top of every commissioner’s list for LeVasseur’s seat, which drew 31 applicants.

Fournier thanked the pool of applicants and encouraged them to apply to other city boards, committees and task forces.

“I’m very happy to see so many people, especially in these challenging and really divisive times at the national level and I’d even argue at the state level, step up to the plate and put their names, faces and careers out there to be criticized by neighbors, to have to be an advocate, to listen, and to make tough decisions,” Fournier said.

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