More Utica candidates share visions ahead of November election

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 10, 2020

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UTICA — Candidates are gearing up for their campaigns, as there are several new candidates for Utica mayor and city council who will be on the ballot Nov. 3.

There are two candidates who have filed for mayor, Mark Ricketts and Gus Calandrino. The mayor serves a two-year term.

Calandrino has been a member of the Downtown Development Authority and most recently a member of the City Council. The Shelby-Utica News last month covered his plans to run for mayor when Mayor Thom Dionne decided not to seek reelection as mayor and instead seek a council seat.

Ricketts worked for the Utica Fire Department for more than 30 years and has lived in the city for 20 years. He owns a construction restoration company.

He explained some of his ideas for Utica, if he were to be elected mayor.

“The city of Utica is small but has all the issues of a large city. To provide the best quality service to the residents, it is important we work together with the Police Department, Fire Department and Department of Public Works to provide the necessary tools to be effective and efficient. We are still a full-service community with great employees that take pride in their jobs and service,” he said.

Ricketts said that recognizing the different parts and voices of the city is important.

“We need to recognize that all areas of our city, business and residential, are important. As new residents move into our community and longtime residents continue to live here, all voices need to be heard. Our city has had some tough times, but has survived it all,” he said.

Ricketts has been involved in fundraising for and promoting the Great Lakes Burn Camp for children for over 25 years.

In the City Council election, a total of seven candidates, including Dionne, have filed for three available four-year terms. Incumbent Chuck Cuddington could not be reached for comment last week.

Candidate Andrew Doroh has lived in Utica for a little over five years and has worked for 20 years at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in many different areas. He is an on-call firefighter for Utica and an EMT.

He said his main vision is to keep the city safe.

“My main focus along with candidate Mike Ryan is to keep our city safe, if not safer than it is now, by adding more police back into the neighborhoods to patrol and by updating our 911 dispatch center for fire and police, along with newer equipment for (the) Utica (Fire Department), along with hiring for new people in our DPW,” he said.

Another candidate running for City Council is Ron Robinson. Robinson grew up in Utica and returned in 2010.

“I decided to run for City Council because I believe the next few years are going to be pivotal for the City of Utica. I believe it to be a make-it-or-break-it time period for our city, especially post-COVID-19,” he said.

He said he would like to look into the water rate increases, and he would also like to see more businesses open up in Utica.

“I also want to find out if there’s a way the city can help alleviate the burden that recent water rate hikes have placed on Utica residents ... but my main goal will be to bring in more new businesses and tax revenue for Utica. Between buildings that need to find tenants and vacant lots awaiting construction plans, Utica will have many opportunities to increase its tax revenue,” he said.

Robinson said he also would really like to focus on the city’s current businesses.

“We as a city must make Utica attractive to business, and that starts with the businesses that already call Utica home,” said Robinson.

Candidate Michael Ryan said he would like to see Utica support and maintain its city services, such as police, fire and the Department of Public Works.

Ryan has been a city resident for the past eight years and has worked in the public safety sector for the past 12 years. He joined the Utica Fire Department as a paid-on-call firefighter/paramedic at 21, and he works full-time as a public safety officer for Grosse Pointe Farms.

He said that, as a kid, he was taught to always give back when you can.

“I have served my community in every way possible. I have worked in the public safety sector for the past 12 years, since I was 18 years old. Our city services have been neglected, and I would like to see us support and maintain our city services, such as police, fire, DPW. Young families feel like they don’t have representation on council. If we want our city to grow, we need to all be represented,” he said.

He said the city has been working hard with very little and this can strongly affect the community. He would like to see more focus on the city services.

“Our city services (have) been asked to do more with less. Police have been running with less officers on shift, which leads to less of a focus on neighborhood patrols. With the recent removal of (the) Downtown Development Authority, our DPW is saddled with more responsibilities. I would like to put emphasis on our city services, with the Utica Police Department, Utica Fire Department and Utica Department of Public Works. I would never support us selling any of our departments to neighboring communities. Staffing has been cut with running a skeleton crew for our DPW, police departments and fire departments. Most departments are running at half the manpower of what we need. I would support a voter-issued public safety millage to support these services,” he said.

Neil Taylor, another new candidate for City Council, has lived in Utica for eight years and is fully retired.

Taylor would like to focus on continuing to move the city in a positive direction, both fiscally and socially.

“The increase in water bills are of great concern to our community. We need to look at some creative solutions to improve this situation. I would like to look into ways to help alleviate (the) fiscal burden on the city and its residents,” said Taylor.

Taylor is the secretary of Bereaved Parents of Macomb County, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a member of the Romeo Skyhawks Radio Control Model Airplane Club.

Incumbent City Councilwoman Faith Terenzi has lived in Utica since 1976, has three children and two grandchildren, and has been a member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church, where she is active in several ministries, since 1976. She has been active with the Utica Lions since 1992, and she enjoys quilting and reading for relaxation.

“I am the balance of council and the voice of the female. I’ve noticed at council meetings when a female addresses council, more often than not, her comments are directed to me. Municipal government works well when there is a balance of male and female. Unfortunately at this time, we are slightly out of balance. If I am reelected, I will be the voice and support of the female voter. I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability,” she said.

For more information on candidates or elections, call the city at (586) 739-1600.

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