Seven candidates to vie for Rochester City Council

Ray, Russell, Giovanelli not seeking re-election

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 30, 2019


ROCHESTER — Seven candidates will compete for four seats on the Rochester City Council Nov. 5.

Mayor Rob Ray, Mayor Pro Tem Kim Russell, and council members Ben Giovanelli and Ann Peterson are all up for re-election, but only Peterson plans to defend her seat.

Peterson will face challengers Mark Albrecht, Jeremiah Glembocki, Douglas Gould, Amanda Harrison Keighley, Steve Sage and Laura Traylor on the November ballot. The filing deadline for all candidates was April 23.

Four members of the Rochester City Council are elected during a general municipal election in November of every odd year. The three candidates receiving the highest number of votes each serve four-year terms, and the candidate receiving the fourth-highest number of votes serves a two-year term.

Council contenders
Peterson, a local Realtor and mortgage loan officer, has lived in the city for over 30 years and has served on the council since 2015. The lone incumbent to seek re-election, Peterson said she is running again for her constituents.  

“They asked me to continue being their voice. As the voice for the residents and taxpayers, I could not leave them not represented. They need a strong leader like myself who will continue questioning the status quo and bring their concerns to the city,” she said.

Peterson said she has seen many changes in the last 30 years, and she believes the next five years are most crucial.

“In our 3-plus square miles, we have current and future debt. We have many needs that require funding, and the majority of our tax base (78%) comes from our residential property values. Residents can only be taxed so much, and I want to make sure they are taxed for what is most important and we hold the city to a higher standard of accountability on spending,” she said in an email.  

Albrecht, the senior director of human resources for Orlans in Troy, has lived in the city for 15 years. He said he loves Rochester and is passionate about contributing his qualifications and experience on behalf of the residents, if he is elected.

“With Mayor Rob Ray, Mayor Pro Tem Kim Russell and Ben Giovanelli not running, the council will be losing some valuable leadership and expertise. I bring 30-plus years of experience in leadership roles with various industries; and for the last 20 years, I have served in leadership positions on numerous boards,” he said in an email.

Locally, Albrecht serves on the Stony Creek Ridge North Homeowners Association, is chair of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority and has been on the DDA board for eight years. He also serves on the Rochester Community Development Committee and the Rochester Infrastructure Committee.

“I am confident that my education, experience and volunteerism will allow me to hit the ground running as a City Council member,” Albrecht said in an email.

Glembocki, an engineering specifications analyst with General Motors and a manager of condominium communities within the city of Rochester, has lived in the city for over 10 years.

He said he believes it’s important for everyone to be involved in their community.

“I see this as a great opportunity for me to provide this service as my civic responsibility, to truly be the voice of the people of Rochester. I believe this is an excellent opportunity to be a positive example to the next generation of leaders, that involvement is necessary for a successful and sustainable future,” he said in an email.

Gould, a professor and chair of the department of foundational medical studies at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, has lived in the city since 2012.

Gould said he is a firm believer in being an engaged member of the community.

“Whether we are referring to our work, our family or our city, these are all communities that take energy and effort to maintain, grow and improve. As an engaged member of the city of Rochester, I am running for City Council in order to help our wonderful city: one, continue to be a safe place to raise our families and educate our children; two, serve as a shining example of smart growth that attracts businesses and consumers; and three, ensure that our neighborhoods and residents benefit from the success of our efforts,” he said in an email.

Harrison Keighley, who serves as the community relations manager for the Rochester Hills Public Library and has lived in the city since 2013, said she decided to run for the council because she has “a passion for people and a will to serve.”

“I have a deep investment in this community, not only because my husband and I own a home here, but I work in the city as well. Rochester is the ideal place to live, and working together with constituents, I pledge to keep it that way,” she said in an email. “I arrived at this decision after attending City Council meetings for several months. I learned a lot about the issues our city faces, and am ready to invest the hard work it will take to keep our city thriving.”
Harrison Keighley has served on the City Beautiful Commission. She is a member of the Young Professional Club and a graduate of the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Rochester program. She serves on the Community Organization Regional Exchange board for local nonprofits and represents Rochester on the CMNtv board. Keighley also serves on the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s parade committee and acts as an announcer during the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade.

Sage, a sales manager for Cummins Inc., has lived in the city for over 19 years and previously served on the City Council from 2011 to 2015.

Sage said he wants to re-engage in developing a direction for the city.

“My platform’s foundation has been and remains to (ensure) a multiyear budget that protects the services we enjoy as residents: fully staffed and properly equipped police and fire/emergency medical (services), fully funded Department of Public Works, maintenance/development of city parks and a fiscally responsible parking system. If elected, my primary focus will be to make decisions that (ensure) a sustainable growth strategy for the future development of Rochester. A responsible approach to this opportunity will provide a balance for both citizens (positive quality of life) and business development (future tax revenue),” he said in an email.  

Laura Traylor, a Realtor, has lived in the city for two years as an adult, plus 26 years when she was younger. Traylor said she decided to run because she loves her small town.

“I am hoping I can contribute in continuing both the cuteness, warmth, productivity and the beauty of Rochester. I want to give back, make a difference, and try to listen to what the citizens and business owners want for our city,” she said in an email.

Fond farewells
Ray, Russell and Giovanelli will not seek re-election.

Ray, currently the mayor, has served on the council for six years.

“When I was first elected mayor, I promised the residents and business owners of Rochester that I’d do my very best, and (I) feel that I have. I’ve done everything in my power to enthusiastically elevate and advance the city’s message, be it locally or now, nationally. After six years on council, especially the last two as mayor, my family has patiently encouraged my passion to help contribute to the hometown we know and love. Now it’s time to make sure they get my very best — and to use my remaining months as mayor to continue building on the tremendous momentum we’ve built. It will be up to the remaining and new council members to keep that cadence, a challenge I am confident they will meet and one that I will continue to contribute towards ... just not from the dais and on my own schedule,” he said in an email.

Giovanelli, who has served on the council for 12 years, said a few things went into his decision not to run again.  

“First, I did not want to become the deeply entrenched old guard, which I ran against back in 2007. Twelve years is enough. Second, I/we accomplished what I set out to do. We kept the Rochester Police Department in Rochester and not outsourced to Oakland County. Transparency, accountability and, most importantly, a customer-first service mentality sorely lacking in 2007 is now pervasive throughout city government,” he said in an email.

Giovanelli said it’s time for someone new to “bring fresh ideas and serve their community.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve, but honestly, it will be nice to get my life back,” he said in an email.

Russell, who has also served on council for 12 years, said it was “time to let go.”

“I believe that success is only as good as your successor,” she said. “It’s our responsibility, as public servants, to continue to service the community in a way that pours into others — the next generation.”