Two candidates file to run for mayor of Farmington Hills

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published August 4, 2023

 Current Farmington Hills City Council member Ken Massey has decided to run for mayor. The election is scheduled for this November.

Current Farmington Hills City Council member Ken Massey has decided to run for mayor. The election is scheduled for this November.

Photo provided by Ken Massey

 Former Farmington Hills City Council member Theresa Rich is a candidate to be the city’s mayor.

Former Farmington Hills City Council member Theresa Rich is a candidate to be the city’s mayor.

Photo provided by Theresa Rich


FARMINGTON HILLS — Two candidates have decided to enter the Farmington Hills mayoral race in November, and both are likely familiar names for some voters.

Ken Massey and Theresa Rich have both served on Farmington Hills’ City Council, with Massey also previously serving as the city’s mayor.

Massey was mayor from 2015-2019, and it was during that same time that Rich was a member of City Council.

Massey was on City Council prior to being mayor and was re-elected to council after serving two consecutive terms as mayor. He is currently a Farmington Hills City Council member.

“There are no term limits in any seat for City Council, with the exception of mayor, and for mayor, you can serve two consecutive terms and then you have to step away,” Massey said.

Massey said that there were initiatives that were started when he previously served as mayor that he would like to continue.

One of his interests is a business incubator on the third floor of The Hawk – Farmington Hills Community Center.

From Massey’s perspective, it is an opportunity to create new companies, new jobs and new economic interests that can benefit Farmington Hills.

“I (want to) see that continue to expand,” he said. “It’s a continuation of the work that was previously begun, and I think that my background for some of the current challenges within the community … will go a long way towards helping us continue to meet those challenges.”

Since serving one term on City Council, Rich said that she has been leading the Oakland County task force on elder abuse and exploitation and was elected as one of the vice presidents of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

“I am running to help build Farmington Hills as a destination city and continue building a community that works for everybody,” she said. “I did have a term on council from 2015 to 2019, and we were able to get quite a bit done. There are some things I would like to come back and continue working on.”

Both Massey and Rich agree that there are things that are going right in Farmington Hills, including being a safe and diverse city, as well as one that is fiscally responsible.

However, both also have ideas that they think could make the city even better.

“I am very much a proven problem-solver, so I am not one who believes all the solutions come only from within Farmington Hills,” Rich said. “I think that solutions happen by building coalitions with different groups of people and hearing different points of view. What I would be doing is increasing partnerships with other entities, and that’s how I’ve gotten things done in the past. I would encourage Farmington Hills to do that to a greater extent.”

Despite how popular The Hawk has been with residents, Massey pointed out that a number of seniors still utilize the Costick Center, including for activities such as swimming.

He said that estimates on fixing the center are upwards of $20 million, and it is his aspiration to get a handle on reducing the overall costs without reducing programming.

Massey also said that the next mayor needs to deal with the deer population issue in the city. From his perspective, he has a “nice way” to deal with it in a way that won’t necessarily offend people who want the deer to stay or those who support a deer culling.

Massey prefers to hold off on announcing his plan for now.

Whether or not to allow commercial marijuana dispensaries in the city has also been a source of controversy.

As of now, Farmington Hills is an opt-out city.

“One of the issues that we have to talk about is this cannabis issue, because the city’s been slow-walking it,” Massey said. “We need to come up with an official policy and position statement. Right now, I think what we’ve done, which has been a sort of wait-and-see attitude, has been the right approach. … I think we need to come together, communicate and come up with a plan on where and what to do with that particular issue.”

Rich shared another factor that helped her decide to run, and it came as a result of being part of a political leadership program offered by Michigan State University.

“Every year they pick 24 people — 12 men, 12 women, 12 Dems, 12 Republicans — and we meet for 11 months, one weekend a month to work through, ‘What are issues in our state, and how do we listen to and hear each other’s viewpoints, see where we have commonalities and what we can learn?’” she said. “That’s part of what helped me figure out that it was the right thing for me to run, all the conversations with people with different points of view than mine.”

From Massey’s perspective, the two primary things that attract people to move into a community are safe neighborhoods and good schools.

He would like to arrange two meetings a year between City Council and elected school board representatives.

He is a proponent of supporting school boards, but demanding excellence.

“And the only way we can do that is by good communication and working together, so that if there are things we can do to help them, so be it, (and) if there are things they can do to help us,” Massey said. “We all have a vested interest in making sure that we work hand-in-glove together, without stepping on each other’s toes, but work together to ensure that we have a safe community with great schools. … I think that’s a great value for the residents and the businesses.”

Rich expressed an interest in boosting residents’ trust in local government and being an inclusive community.

“I am not running on a platform of anybody doing something wrong or that we should be making wholesale changes. I’m running to look at, what are the problems that we have on the horizon?” she said. “For instance, in our city, by 2026, we are going to have more households with seniors than households with students. What are we doing to make sure that, first, we are providing the services that those seniors are going to need, and second, what are we doing to attract more people to our city? … Becoming a destination city is something that’s important to me.”

Rich and her husband, Brian, have a law firm in Farmington Hills. They have two children.

She is also an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University’s business school.

Massey and his wife, Katherine, raised two sons. They have four grandchildren.

Massey works as a senior director for venture development at Wayne State, where he is also a professor of pharmacology at the university’s medical school.

Both Massey and Rich have extensive educational backgrounds.