New commissioners, mayor begin new term

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published November 14, 2019


MOUNT CLEMENS — A new term is underway in Mount Clemens government.

A special City Commission organizational meeting was held Nov. 12, a couple  of hours after elected officials were sworn in.

At the meeting, rules and procedures of the commission were reviewed.

In the mayoral race Nov. 5, Laura Kropp edged out incumbent Barb Dempsey by less than 200 votes, with 49.9% of the vote.

Kropp, 41, previously served on the Mount Clemens City Commission and the Mount Clemens Community Schools Board of Education.

Since the election, Kropp has met with several key staff members, discussing what the first priorities are.

“It’s nice that I’m not starting from zero because of all my commission experience, and I have a good relationship with them,” Kropp said.

She believes the most important role as mayor is to be the communicator between city administration and the commission.

“What we’ve been lacking is the vision and goal setting, so the commission and mayor are supposed to give the vision and goals of what we want to accomplish in a year,” Kropp said.  

Her top priorities are to find a new city manager and fill the vacant commission seat. Currently, Lisa Borgacz is the interim city manager. The vacant seat must be filled within 60 days of the election.  

Kropp added that it’s not for the mayor or commission to get mixed up in micromanaging or day-to-day city operations.

“As a commissioner, I worked on answering where the city wants to go, and that’s why I ran for mayor, because I saw we weren’t doing it at all,” she said.   

What Kropp learned from Dempsey, a Mount Clemens government fixture for three decades, is to take criticism and understand that people want to be heard.

“You can’t take it personally,” Kropp said. “It has to be about business and not personal.”

Kropp described her leadership style as inclusive.

“It’s going to take so many people to make this city run,” she said. “I want to include everyone — those who work at the city and residents that want to be involved.”

In the commission race, Glen Voorhess, Rashidah Hammond, and Ronald Campbell were elected to four-year terms.

The new City Commission consists of Campbell, Hammond Voorhess, Denise Mentzer, and Laura Fournier. The seat of Bill “Sonny” Ford, who died in September, remains vacant.

Campbell is a high school teacher and has been on the commission for 12 years.

He said he always likes helping folks when they call with their concerns.

“I like helping residents that get any action themselves,” he said.

He claimed the third spot in the election, edging out Kathleen Kelchner by eight votes.

“I think all of us were very surprised how close it was,” he said.

Campbell has a goal of continuing to work with city administration to help residents who have contacted him with issues.

“You continually hear that people want ordinances strengthened in regard to blight and rental properties,” he said. “They want them to be enforced uniformly and fairly.”   

Hammond works at Macomb County Head Start as an educator.

She views naming a city manager as the top priority the commission faces in the next couple of months.

“We’ve been without one for a while and we’ll be posting the job, looking to hire a city manager,” she said.

One of her top goals is to improve neighborhoods by reducing blight and neglect with increasing homeownership and enforcing rental property ordinances. Hammond wants to partner with a Mount Clemens resident who runs a program assisting residents in need or who are unable to do home improvements.   

When it comes to revitalizing the business district, Hammond wants to support small business owners, attracting new businesses and increasing foot traffic.

“I think a lot has to do with promotion and advertising to know the businesses are here,” she said.

Voorhess received the most votes of any commissioner.

The 68-year-old is retired from Old Kent Financial Corp. and served four years on the Mount Clemens Community Schools board.  

His top goal is to increase Sheriff’s Office coverage of all sections of the city.

“It was brought up by the late Commissioner Sonny Ford and Commissioner Roger Bunton,” he said. “I’ve taken that on as them passing the torch and believe we need to look in the budget to find extra money for extra coverage.”

He said a few areas of northbound Gratiot Avenue need to be reviewed.   

The new commission had its first meeting Nov. 18, after press time, with Voorhess and Hammond attending Michigan Municipal League training Nov. 19 for newly elected officials.