Sterling to decide City Council this Election Day

Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 21, 2015

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In the Sentry’s coverage area, voters will be tasked Nov. 3 with deciding all seven seats of the Sterling Heights City Council. Two candidates, Mayor Michael Taylor and Councilman Nate Shannon, were appointed to their current positions following the death of former Mayor Richard Notte in 2014. They are running to retain their seats.

Following are profiles submitted by the candidates. Candidates were asked, in 150 words or less, to state the top items they would wish to accomplish if elected and how they would go about accomplishing them. If a candidate went over the word limit, (…) replaces the rest of their answer. (I) indicates that the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Mayor of Sterling Heights
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.

Paul Martin Smith
Age: 69
Occupation: Retired General Motors Project Manager
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights, Michigan
For how long: Since September of 1977
Education: Detroit Cooley High School, General Motors Institute Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, USAF Officer Training School, USAF Pilot Training, Central Michigan University – Masters of Science.
Online campaign information: Facebook page: an all new Sterling Heights City Council
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Heights City Council
Top goals: I will provide open honest government to the people who really matter - the residential citizens of Sterling Heights. For too long our city has been run for the benefit of outsiders who do not live in our city but profit from it.

I will use intelligent financial management to evaluate every spending item. There will be no more multi-million dollar Consent Agendas where money is squandered without even the slightest consideration. Our city can provide all the services that the people really need without intruding into private sector business.

I will honestly and openly consider public input when I make decisions. Hearings are intended to use public input to DRIVE decisions. Under the current regime the will of the people has been blatantly ignored, resulting in an historic successful referendum to repeal the unwanted ordinance, meetings packed with citizens who oppose Council and the first-ever full Council replacement election.

Michael C. Taylor (I)
Age: 32
Occupation: Mayor of Sterling Heights; Attorney
Municipality of residence: No answer given.
For how long: 7 years
Education: Wayne State University Law School Juris Doctor, Kalamazoo College B.A. Economics
Online campaign information: No answer given.
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Heights City Council, 2009 – present  Sterling Heights Mayor, 2014 - present
Top goals: My top three priorities as mayor are public safety, roads, and improving quality of life services for residents of all ages. I am the only candidate for mayor who promises to keep our Fire Department and Police Department strong so they are there for you when your family needs them. As mayor I will also continue to prioritize road funding. In Sterling Heights this year alone there has been almost $50 million in road improvements. In 2015 the city also implemented its first ever Dodge Park Farmers Market, secured a $4.5 million grant to rehabilitate the Clinton River, and dedicated new kayak and canoe landings along the river. Property values are skyrocketing, taxes are low, businesses are investing here, and Sterling Heights remains the safest big city in Michigan. As your mayor I will proudly continue moving this city forward with honor, integrity, and leadership you can trust.


Sterling Heights City Council
Twelve candidates are running for six two-year terms.

Verna Babula
Age: 71
Occupation: Domestic Engineer
Municipality of residence: City of Sterling Heights
For how long: 39 years
Education: Wayne State University, Bachelor of Science; University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Post Grad coursework in Gerontology
Online campaign information:
www.facebook.com/WorkingForThe PeopleofSterlingHeights
Previously held elected offices: City of Sterling Heights Precinct Delegate
Top goals: I would want to bring honesty and integrity to the city council. Unlike our mayor and city council that are telling the people what they want to hear just to get the resident’s vote. For example, they are now hiring new police officers, but they are actually replacing all of the previously laid off police officers, and the ones who are retiring. They are hiring them to replace the original number of officers.
I would use wisdom in changing or adding an ordinance to our City Charter. Did we really need the LGBT or marijuana ordinance?
I would spend the taxpayer’s money wisely. We need to spend the money on our sidewalks, streets and roads. Our present city council is considering spending it on zip lines, disk golf, a dog park and a 14’ wide bridge in Dodge Park. They have already wasted over $10,000 on a new City logo.

Jazmine M. Early
Age: 45
Occupation: Architect/ Freelance draftsperson, Spanish Tutor
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 11 years
Education: Bachelor Degree in Architecture, Catholic of Colombia University, 1995; Associate Degree, Architectural Technology courses, Macomb Community College, Warren, Michigan. 2015
Online campaign information: Jazmine Early for Sterling Heights City Council Facebook page
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: 1- Protecting our Taxpayers.
I will work to lower the millage rate, while maintaining funding for essential services, such as Police, Fire, and Roads.
Essential services have been contracted out, dog licensing (Texas) and the City Website (Kansas). I will work to bring them back.

2-  Reestablish Fiscal and Moral responsibility to the Council.
As an elected councilperson I will work for our residents. All issues should be brought to them. I will strive to listen to the residents and vote accordingly. I will work to uphold our Constitutional rights and freedoms, along with traditional values.

3-  Promote local business growth and sustainability.
I will work to encourage the growth of small businesses, as they bring economic development and jobs, encouraging our city to work with them to ensure that these businesses have fair rules to abide by and encourage them to hire residents of our city.

Sanaa Elias
Age:  56
Occupation: In the process of starting my own business
Municipality of residence:  Sterling Heights
For how long:  23 years
Education: Bachelor of Economics, University of Pittsburgh
Online campaign information: No online site
Previously held elected offices: I have not held an elected political office
Top goals: As a taxpayer, I feel the economic challenges faced by many of our residents. Because of this, I will work to keep taxes low and concentrate on highest priority city needs. The first is local road conditions affecting our residents traveling to and from work, and new families and businesses contemplating a move to Sterling Heights. We can direct more money towards safer roads by eliminating wasteful spending on nonessential projects such as mile markers, additional parks and effectively managing expenditures.

We need to hold our government officials accountable to residents and offer greater transparency. Residents should be given the opportunity to discuss and receive answers on issues of significant expense or major change in our city’s direction prior to council vote.

The other concern is to shore up our reserves for challenging economic times ahead. Millage increases should not be the norm. Good leaders plan for the long term. (…)

Joseph Judnick
Age: 60 years old.
Occupation: I am a taxidermist and take clients hunting in south Africa.
Municipality of residence: I moved to sterling heights in 1978.
For how long: 37 years.
Education: High school graduate with classes in taxidermy. No college.
Online campaign information: No answer given.
Previously held elected offices: I never held any office.
Top goals: My three things are cut the budget. It went from 131 million in 2012 to 163 million in 2015.This current council is spending money like crazy. I will reduce taxes by one mill per year for my 1st 2 years.I will put more money into roads.The current council is directly responsible for our terrible roads.I will put more officers into code enforcement.Our neighborhoods look terrible and council has not addressed this issue.

Deanna Koski (I)
Age: 74
Occupation: Retired
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long:  46 years
Education:  Associate Degree, Legal Assistant,  MCC., Real Estate Broker and Title Insurance Agent License(s)
Online campaign information: None
Previously held elected offices: Councilwoman, City of Sterling Heights since 1989
Top goals: Support the SAFE Street proposal, improving neighborhood roads and filling projected retirement vacancies in police and fire departments.

Maintaining quality services for residents; ensuring a safe community.

Spotlight the city as premier location to build and grow a business. Focusing on economic development growth, identifying alternate uses for facilities and vacant retail spaces by developing a strategy for business to grow and prosper.

Focusing on providing quality services at reasonable costs and maintaining lowest tax rate for residents. Continue inquiry for available grants to enhance the Parks and Recreation master plan with the development of the assets of Clinton River.

Joseph V. Romano (I)
Age: 73
Occupation: Real Estate and Insurance Broker
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 46 years
Education: Macomb County Community College  Detroit Institute of Technology (DIT)
Online campaign information: None
Previously held elected offices: 18 years City Councilman — Sterling Heights
Top goals: Please see below:
10a) Continue to maintain the health and safety of residents.
We are still considered the safest city in Michigan. Continued hiring of Police and Fire Personnel.

10b) Replace and repair not only our main thorough fares but also our residential neighborhood streets. The safe street proposal passed by residents in 2013, has allowed for 8 million dollars invested in neighborhood road improvements. There is still much to be done.

10c) Property maintenance is one of the biggest complaints the city receives. We must continue vigorous enforcement of not only neighborhoods but also on commercial and industrial property. As the city grows it may be necessary to hire more code enforcement officers.

Jackie Ryan
Age: 54
Occupation: Educator/Teacher
Municipality of residence: City of Sterling Heights
For how long: 17 years
Education: Macomb Community College, Accounting and Business Administration Degrees
Online campaign information: www.facebook.com/WorkingForThePeopleof SterlingHeights
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Heights Precinct Delegate
Top goals: I want to improve the condition of our City’s sidewalks, streets, and roads. We need to allocate more money from the Safe Street initiative, and the City’s general budget to improve and maintain our sidewalks, streets, and roads for the safety of our residents.

Another goal of mine is to be more forth coming and transparent with the residents concerning large item expenditures. I would no longer put these items on the consent agenda. They belong on the agenda for discussion so the residents will know how much these items cost, and if we really need them.

Most importantly, I would support the residents who want a choice regarding the AMI Advanced Smart Meters by reinstating the moratorium immediately. I would also send a resolution to Lansing supporting the HR Bill 4916, which gives everyone a choice to either have an analog meter or the new AMI meter.

Maria G. Schmidt (I)
Age: 53
Occupation: Para Professional Health Science program WCS Career Prep Center
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 21 years
Education: Bishop Foley High School, Attended Oakland Community College
Online campaign information: No answer given.
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Height City Council  2003-Present
Top goals: It is my wish to continue to move the community forward in a positive, progressive way by:
The continuation of neighborhood road improvements (8 Million dollars spent in the past two years). Along with funding our top notch public safety departments with the manpower and tools they need through the overwhelmingly passed Safe Streets millage.

We must continue to be fiscally responsible in an open and transparent way eliminating any doubt to the taxpayer where their money is being spent all while putting money in the bank. Which we have been able to do in the past two budgets.

We must be diligently working with our State legislators to repeal the current fireworks law which has been nearly impossible to enforce, disruptive to our residents and their pets and costly to the taxpayers.

Through cooperative teamwork (Council, Administration, Employees and Residents) we should be able to achieve these goals.


Nate Shannon (I)
Age: 40
Occupation: Economics and Government Teacher with the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 6 Years
Education: B.A. Political Science (Oakland University) M.A. Secondary Education (Wayne State University)
Online campaign information: No answer given.
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Heights City Council
Top goals: As your Councilman, I know our community and understand both its challenges and its potential. With the right leadership, Sterling Heights will continue to be a premier city that attracts and retains residents and business, supports Seniors and their ability to remain independent, continues to be one of the safest cities in Michigan, and improve the quality of life for everyone

My priority is to support the efforts of our police and fire departments to continue to keep residents safe at a low cost to each taxpayer.
I am also committed to developing partnerships with public and private organizations to establish programs that support Seniors ability to stay in their homes.

Finally, I will continue to encourage our “placemaking” efforts to benefit our community and attract new residents.
As your councilman, I will work diligently to accomplish the goals I have set forth for the city. Please visit www.nateforcitycouncil.com

Doug Skrzyniarz (I)
Age: 38
Occupation: Associate Vice President of Government Affairs & Adjunct Instructor, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Mayor Pro Tem – City of Sterling Heights
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 12 years
Online campaign information: www.doug4council.com
Education: B.A. Political Theory & International Relations, Michigan State University James Madison College, M.A. Political Science, Wayne State University, M.H.S.A University of Michigan School of Public Health
Previously held elected offices: No answer given.
Top goals: We need to continue our promise of running an efficient and effective city government, which means making sure our police and fire departments have everything they need to protect us.  We hired 38 new Police Officers and Fire Fighters, and will hire 32 more to keep our neighborhoods safe.

It’s hard to have a thriving neighborhood when you can’t drive on your local road. Through the “Safe Streets” millage, we are keeping our promise of fixing local neighborhood roads. All of our most broken roads will be rebuilt in the next few years. I believe in low taxes and want to make sure your tax money is spent wisely.

My final priority is making sure we do all we can to retain and attract economic development. Chrysler, Ford, General Dynamics, and local small businesses help provide good paying jobs, keep our residential taxes low, and improve our quality of life.

Moira Smith
Age: 63
Occupation: Retired State of Michigan Disability Examiner
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights, Michigan
For how long: Since June of 1978
Education: Port Huron Northern High School, Western Michigan University Bachelor of Science.
Online campaign information: Facebook page: an all new Sterling Heights City Council
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: I will provide open honest government to the people who really matter - the residential citizens of Sterling Heights. For too long our city has been run for the benefit of outsiders who do not live in our city but profit from it.

I will use intelligent financial management to evaluate every spending item. There will be no more multi-million dollar Consent Agendas where money is squandered without even the slightest consideration.  Our city can provide all the services that the people really need without intruding into private sector business.

I will honestly and openly consider public input when I make decisions. Hearings are intended to use public input to DRIVE decisions. Under the current regime the will of the people has been blatantly ignored, resulting in an historic successful referendum to repeal the unwanted ordinance, meetings packed with citizens who oppose Council and the first-ever full Council replacement election.

Barbara A. Ziarko (I)
Age: 66
Occupation: Part-time Bookkeeper
Municipality of residence: Sterling Heights
For how long: 38 years
Education: Associate Degree Macomb Community College
Online campaign information: n/a
Previously held elected offices: Sterling Heights City Council 14 years
Top goals: 1. Continue to keep public safety, infrastructure and quality of life amenities in the forefront - Focusing on spending “Safe Streets” revenue as promised and researching non-motorized transportation options with sidewalk completion and bike/hike paths.

2. Work with residents and administration on the completion of the New Vision Statement and Guiding Principles as we work to update the City’s Master Plan. Pay particular attention to the new residential and industrial sites scheduled for development in the near future.

3. Focus on redevelopment of vintage commercial areas and encourage landlords, tenants, and developers to follow the forward thinking of City Council and Administration to improve or redesign their sites.

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