Voters in Lathrup Village decide new City Council

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

File photo by Donna Agusti

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — A mix of incumbents and challengers prevailed during Lathrup Village’s general election Nov. 2, shaping the next City Council.

There were two council races. In the first race, six candidates ran for three open seats. Each of the two highest vote-getters would receive a four-year term, while the third highest vote-earner would receive a two-year term.

The six candidates included the incumbents Bruce Kantor and Saleem Siddiqi, along with the challengers Mark Dizik, Jalen Jennings and Karen L. Miller. Marvin Moore ran as a write-in candidate.

Kantor came out on top at 994 votes, followed by Jennings at 767 votes — both will receive four-year terms. Miller came in third place at 715 votes, winning the two-year term. The runners-up were Siddiqi with 459 votes, and Dizik with 354 votes.

There were also 319 unassigned write-in votes, which would include Moore. At press time, it was not yet known how much Moore received.

“This election truly woke the city of Lathrup Village,” Jennings said in an email. “I went into this election believing that it would be a quiet election and not make much headway, but it was probably the most exciting race Lathrup has seen in quite a while. Being the youngest candidate, I knew I had to bring something new and exciting to the table to show how my youth could be an asset.

“My team and I decided we would use technology to reach most of our voters,” he continued. “I communicated with my constituents through text messages, phone calls, and the old-fashioned way of sending letters and door to door. I met so many civically engaged residents through candidate forums, and home visits who I can now say are great acquaintances. Not everyone thought I was ready, but my current knowledge and willingness to continuously learn will warrant me to be a gallant council member. 

“It was beautiful to see the vast array of candidates who decided to get involved and put their best foot forward,” Jennings wrote. “Furthermore, the winners of the election reflect the hard work put in by each one of us. I look forward to working with each newly elected council member to serve Lathrup Village residents. I would like to thank the residents for seeing something in me that gave them the confidence to vote for me. I am proud and excited to serve the residents of Lathrup Village.” 

Miller said she’s eager to serve, and thanked the residents who put their trust in her.

“I am committed to including you and all of our neighbors as we plan the present and future of Lathrup Village,” Miller said in an email. “Residents are the heart of our community, and you deserve a seat at the table when we determine how your tax dollars are spent. I am here to represent you, and I promise to listen.”

Separately, there were two candidates running for a partial term on the City Council that ends Nov. 13, 2023. The candidates were challengers Barbara Kenez and Greg Ruvolo II, with Ruvolo being a write-in candidate.

Kenez was the clear winner, at 868 votes. The unassigned write-ins, at least a portion of which would include Ruvolo, were 263 votes.

“Congratulations to the newly elected (candidates) and incumbents that comprise the new Lathrup Village City Council,” Ruvolo said in an email following the election. “These past few months have been very educational, and have brought on new situations never before faced within our city. I’m confident our new council will come together as a team and move our city forward in a positive direction.

“Thank you to all my supporters,” he added. “It was great meeting so many new residents and having constructive conversations about concerning topics. I look forward to continuing that conversation as an active resident as I prepare for #ruvolo2023!”

Kenez said she aims to make everyone feel heard.

“I’d like to thank everyone who believed in and supported our message. This effort was not in vain — it has been, and remains, a heartfelt promise to do what is right and best for Lathrup Village,” Kenez said in an email. “I’m looking forward to bringing your voices to the table. We have an enviable supply of talent and tenacity in our community, and I can’t wait to see it unleashed.” 

Voters also decided a charter amendment, which sought to extend the budget presentation and adoption deadlines by one month, the new dates being the third Monday of May and the third Monday of June, respectively. That measure passed 1,079 to 244.

 

The council candidates
The candidates previously shared some information about themselves and their campaigns with the Southfield Sun.

Dizik, 47, works in sales and has lived in Lathrup Village for 40 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Minnesota. He is new to politics, and during his campaign promised to preserve the historic nature and “special feel” of Lathrup Village. He also wanted to incentivize partnerships between Southfield Road property owners and the city of Lathrup Village, and to beautify the Southfield Road corridor while adding pedestrian-friendly features. He also wished to increase transparency between the city and residents, and to improve accessibility at City Hall.

Jennings, 25, a community liaison who has lived in Lathrup Village for 23 years who earned a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Tennessee State University, campaigned on strengthening the local economy and conducting a study on municipal broadband with the goal of providing reliable low-cost internet service to all residents. Jennings also wants to improve environmental sustainability by installing solar panels on city-owned property to lower costs and combat power outages.

Kantor, 57, a health care retiree who has lived in Lathrup Village for 32 years, earned a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College and has been on the City Council since 2017. He said he would continue to develop the city’s infrastructure, including improvements to Southfield Road by way of increased economic development and code enforcement. He also said he will work with the owner of the Anne Lathrup School to encourage redevelopment of the property, and that he will continue to closely monitor the city’s spending against the budget, while working with police to address traffic safety and enforcement.

Miller, who did not disclose her age, is a business owner, realtor and mortgage loan officer who has lived in Lathrup Village for 32 years. She has a degree in community development with an emphasis in public administration from Central Michigan University. She previously served on the Southfield Public Schools’ Board of Education from 1993 to 2001 and by appointment from 2004 to 2010, serving five years as president and multiple years as secretary and treasurer. She said her priorities for Lathrup Village included improved communication between the city and residents, responsibly managing the taxpayers’ money, and improving city services and infrastructure.

Moore, 66, is a retired human resources officer for Chrysler who formerly worked as a police officer and who currently holds leadership roles in two volunteer organizations: Agape Christian Marriage Ministry, dedicated to the preservation of marriages, and Willing Workers for Christ, dedicated to helping the homeless population of Southeast Michigan. He has lived in Lathrup Village for more than 30 years, and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Duke University, a master’s degree in psychology counseling from NC Central University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina State University. He campaigned on keeping marijuana companies out of town, improving government transparency and integrity by involving residents more, and having the city better utilize social media and other tools to more promptly address concerns.

Siddiqi did not respond to prior interview requests.

Kenez, 62, is an interior designer who has lived in Lathrup Village for more than 50 years and who has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University. She campaigned on addressing the needs of residents in a respectful and timely manner, seeking resident input on decisions that affect their quality of life, attracting and retaining businesses that residents want, improving the aesthetics of the village and the corridor, and improving fiscal responsibility, transparency and customer service.

Ruvolo, 49, a marketing and communications director who has lived in Lathrup Village for 16 years and who holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in communications technology, both from Eastern Michigan University, campaigned on expanding the city’s communication channels, continuing beautification, and boosting economic growth.

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