Southfield officials discuss future after election

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published November 10, 2021

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SOUTHFIELD — Voters showed support for the incumbent mayor, clerk and council members during the general election in Southfield Nov. 2.

The candidates for the mayor of Southfield were current Mayor Kenson Siver and challenger Tawnya Morris, competing for a four-year term. Siver defended his seat, receiving 8,891 votes, while Morris received 6,710 votes. There were 21 unassigned write-ins.

Silver said he was grateful and humbled by the show of confidence.

“Looking toward the next four years, residents can expect to see considerable improvements made to neighborhood streets, installation of speed bumps/speed tables, great progress in the redevelopment of the Northland property, continued extensions of urban pathways, along with public art and streetscape amenities, park upgrades and new housing. Southfield needs more subsidized senior housing, housing for empty nesters who wish to downsize and remain in the city, and what is termed ‘workforce’ housing.”

He said the city will continue to press DTE Energy to upgrade Southfield’s electrical grid and intensify tree trimming.

He said they will also explore piloting installation of underground electrical service lines to residential customers.

“And finally, we will need to assess the long-term impacts of climate change and the COVID pandemic on our community,” Siver said. “Life as we knew it prior to 2020 will not be the same going forward. We have had to pivot to keep moving forward. What other adjustments will we have to make in community life, family life, recreation, education, health care, mental health, retail commerce and our office market?

“The increase in severe weather events now appear to be a new normal. The strong winds and heavy downpours are taxing our public works resources and our systems to manage stormwater,” he observed. “Great investments have been made over the past few years by the city to alleviate basement flooding. How much more will the city have to do and at what cost? Stream bank erosion poses another threat to property owners.

“Many challenges lay ahead.  I believe we  — the City Council, administration and I — are up to the task of taking them on,” Siver wrote. 

Siver, 75, the mayor from 2015 to present, has lived in Southfield for 54 years. He is a retired teacher and deputy superintendent of the Southfield Public Schools, with a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Wayne State University. Prior to becoming mayor, he had been a council member since 2001. He is a founding member of the Southfield Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force and the Southfield Parks and Garden Club. He has also written three books on the history of the city and edited the 30th anniversary book on the Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force.

Morris, 53, has lived in Southfield for 27 years and served as a member of the City Council from 2015 to 2021. She is the president and CEO of the Abayomi Community Development Corporation, a faith-based nonprofit in northwest Detroit. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

The candidates for city clerk of Southfield included the incumbent, Sherikia Hawkins, and the challenger, Wendy Webster-Jackson. They were competing for one four-year term. Here, Hawkins received 9,585 votes while Webster-Jackson received 5,087. There were 38 unassigned write-ins.

“I am deeply moved by the expression of confidence from all of the Southfield voters, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Hawkins said in an email. “I am immensely grateful to my family, friends, and loyal supporters who so generously contributed their time and effort to this election. I would like to congratulate all who participated in this local general election.” 

Hawkins, 40, has lived in the city of Southfield for more than 10 years. She has a master’s degree in political science, a bachelor’s degree in communication, and a certificate of diversity and inclusion from Cornell University. She has more than 17 years of experience in local government, including 10 years as a city clerk.

The challenger for city clerk, Webster-Jackson, 49, has lived in Southfield for 12 years and is a podiatrist, with a doctorate in podiatric medicine from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. She previously described herself as an educated business owner that has managed a medical office for over 20 years.

The candidates for the Southfield City Council were incumbents Lloyd Crews, Jason Hoskins, Michael “Ari” Mandelbaum and Linnie Taylor, and challengers Ryan Scott Foster, Charles Hicks, Robert Vance Patrick and Jay Reid. There were four open seats. The three highest vote-getters would receive four-year terms, while the fourth highest would receive a two-year term.

The incumbents all prevailed, with Taylor receiving 10,198 votes, Hoskins receiving 8,827 votes, Crews receiving 8,555 votes, and Mandelbaum receiving 8,080 votes.

The runners-up were Hicks, with 7,920 votes; Reid, with 3,831 votes; Patrick, with 2,807 votes; and Foster, with 2,635 votes. There were 103 unassigned write-ins.

Taylor said she is humbled and honored to be reelected.

“Over 15,000 voters turned out in this election, and I am honored that with this high turnout that I was re-elected with more than 10,000 votes,” she said in an email. She thanked her family, friends and supporters who helped with her campaign.

“I realize I stand on the shoulders of dedicated citizens and I am passionate about serving others,” she wrote. “Not only have you entrusted me with the responsibility of serving you as City Councilwoman, but you also continue to provide me valuable feedback that empowers me to get the job done,” she added. 

Mandelbaum said he is honored to serve again. He said residents are always free to call him or text him at (248) 905-1095.

“It is a great feeling that they have trust in me to continue to serve. During the campaign, there were a number of great suggestions from residents that I am ready to start working on,” Mandelbaum said in an email. 

“I am ready to fight to keep our city diverse, make it more walkable, and attract younger families with affordable housing, great schools and community activities,” he wrote. “We have a lot of commercial and residential projects to ensure they are completed. I also want to ensure our small businesses are taken care of, and that we make city services easier for residents to use and promote.”

Hicks thanked his supporters and congratulated the winners in an email following the election.

“I would like to humbly thank all who volunteered, donated money, endorsed my effort, offered words of encouragement, etc. I have considered a variety of things on what I could have done differently, but then I said, hey, I did all I could do, so I’m good,” Hicks said. “Congratulations to those elected and re-elected. I am hopeful that you will improve our city.”

Foster also expressed his gratitude.

“First, I would like to thank Southfield for giving me the opportunity to run for office, and the 2,600 citizens that voted for me,” Foster said in an email. “It was a hard battle, but to the people that won, I congratulate them and support them. I spent $1700 for this campaign, talked to a lot of people, but there is only so much I can do. Only God knows the future for me.”