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Voters to decide councils, mayor in Farmington, Hills

Farmington Press | Published October 23, 2019

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Voters in the Farmington area will decide on city council members, a new mayor and an Oakland Community College millage renewal Nov. 5. Following are profiles the candidates submitted to the Farmington Press. Candidates were asked, in 75 words or less, to state the top items they 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 the answer. (I) indicates that the candidate is an incumbent. The answers are printed verbatim.

Farmington City Council
Five candidates are running for three spots on City Council; the two highest vote-getters will serve four-year terms, and the third highest vote-getter will serve a two-year term.


Sara Bowman (I)
Age: 45
Occupation: Legal Operations Manager
Municipality of residence: Farmington
For how long: 1999
Online campaign information:
Education: Harrison High School graduate 1991, New York University B.A. graduate 1995
Previously held elected offices: Elected to Farmington City Council 2015
Top goals: Farmington is poised to move forward with significant redevelopment opportunities, including but not limited to the Maxfield Training Center property and finally realizing the Farmington Streetscape to compliment the Grand River Streetscape and Grove Street redevelopment. There are also opportunities at the corners of town; down the Grand River Corridor, down Farmington Road to 9 Mile and out to Halsted. We need to continue to find creative ways to encourage new business, infill our properties…    


Joe LaRussa (I)
Age: 43
Occupation: Director of Industrial Engineering at Brose, an Automotive Mechatronic Solutions Provider
Municipality of residence: Farmington
For how long: 14 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Bachelor of Science – Electrical Engineering, Master of Science – Automotive Systems Engineering, Master of Science – Engineering Management; all from the
University of Michigan-Dearborn
Previously held elected offices: City Council (2 years)
Top goals: My top priorities are (1) to lead Farmington through transformational redevelopment projects like the Maxfield Training Center and others in our master plan; (2) prioritize spending on parks and recreation, adding new equipment and amenities and upgrading existing ones; and (3) I want to make Farmington a leader in technology like municipal broadband internet infrastructure to raise property values, enable next-generation applications, and attract a mobile workforce to live and work in Farmington.


Sarah Davies
Age: 37
Occupation: IT Change Manager
Municipality of residence: Farmington
For how long: third generation homeowner, homeowner for 2 years, family has been in the area since the 70s.
Online campaign information:
Education: Bachelor of Science – Associates Degree in Broadcast Arts Journalism, (Computer Support Specialist Certificate, Computer Support Technician I Certificate, Computer Network and System Administration Certificate, Cisco Certified Network Associate Skills Certificate, Microsoft System Administration Skills Certificate, ITIL Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management)
Previously held elected offices: No previously held elected offices
Top goals: Improving pedestrian safety and making Farmington a true walkable community for every resident is highly important. We need wider, smooth sidewalks that allow for all types of pedestrians to pass each other safely without one having to step into the road. Senior citizens should not have fear of tripping on uneven walkways. Communication between the residents and the council needs to improve. I would like to add recycling and trash cans publicly throughout the community.


Geof Perrot
Age: 39
Occupation: Global Product Manager, Driv Motorparts (Formerly Federal-Mogul & Tenneco)
Municipality of residence: Farmington
For how long: 11 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Ferris State University – A.A.S. Heavy Equipment Technology, B.S. Heavy Equipment Service Engineering Technology
Previously held elected offices: None.
Top goals: Public Safety: I will work with Public Safety administrators to develop long-range budgeting plans, ensuring their ability to protect residents for years to come.
Promote right-sized development: As a Planning Commissioner I am tasked to advocate for all residents. Developments we approve must first fit the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
Infrastructure improvements: Proactive, strategic planning ensures areas greatest in need are addressed first. Prioritizing these projects and repairing them accordingly is a must.


Steve Schneemann (I)
Age: 51
Occupation: Architect
Municipality of residence: Farmington
For how long: 21 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Master’s Degree
Previously held elected offices: Farmington Mayor (current, 2 years), Farmington Mayor Pro Tem (4 years), Farmington City Council (6+ years)
Top goals: Farmington is in the midst of a years-long rejuvenation effort of which I have played an integral role. My top goals are to continue this positive momentum by continuing to invest in the upgrading of our aging infrastructure (sidewalks, roads, and sewers), completing long-planned major projects (Farmington Road streetscape, MTC redevelopment, Drake & Shiawassee Parks improvements), and attracting high-quality businesses to Farmington; all while maintaining our excellent fiscal health and AA bond rating.

Farmington Hills Mayor
Two candidates are running for one two-year term.


Richard Lerner
Age: 60
Occupation: IT Consultant, Small Business Owner
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 21 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, B.A. Economics
Previously held elected offices: Farmington Hills Councilmember (2011-Present), Farmington Hills Mayor Pro Tem (2012-13, 2017-18)
Top goals: Our next Mayor must be an infrastructure expert. We are continually improving roads under the new dedicated millage, converting Harrison HS into a Community Center, bringing fiber optic competition to internet service (“the 4th utility”), replacing aging water mains, culverts and bridges. We also need to determine which Marijuana uses will be permitted in Farmington Hills since Proposal 1 passed in 2018. There are license categories for growers, transporters, retailers, establishments, events, testing and provisioning.


Vicki Barnett
Age: 65
Occupation: Former Investment Consultant, LPL Financial Services
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 38 years
Online campaign information:
Education: BGS and MBA degrees, with distinction, University of Michigan - Dearborn
Previously held elected offices: State Representative 2009-2014; Farmington Hills Mayor 2003-2007; Council Member 1995-2003
Top goals: Maintain service levels and AAA bond rating without raising taxes by reaching out to neighboring communities and school districts to seek cost saving opportunities. Develop an Economic Master Plan, Redevelopment Board and exceptional technological backbone to bring new businesses and families to our city. When I was Mayor, Farmington Hills became one of the safest cities in America. We will continue creative community policing, diversify our workforce and provide high quality training to first responders.

Farmington Hills City Council
Six candidates are running for three four-year terms.


Jackie Boleware
Age: 69
Occupation: Retired
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 22 years
Online campaign information:
Education: Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology from Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: No answer given.
Top goals: As a 22 year resident, I have a long standing record of service, and understands the community needs. We are a stronger community when we draw upon our diverse strengths, shared values, aspirations and expectations. I ask for your vote. My top priorities are to become an effective voice for the residents of the City, and to accelerate the present study with partnering cities to determine if a municipal broadband system is cost effective.


T. R. Carr
Age: 72
Occupation: Consultant (Public Management, Health Policy, Education)
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 3 years
Online campaign information: www.TRCarr.Com
Education: Ph.D., MPA, BA  (Public Administration and Policy)
Previously held elected offices: Mayor, City of Hazelwood, MO (2000-2009)
Top goals: My vision is to be an effective voice for all residents and maintain Farmington Hills as a great place to live, work, and raise a family. I will work to grow the city’s economy, provide quality services for seniors and young families. I will work to develop strategies to help our retail business compete with online companies. I will work for quality city services:  roads, parks, fire and police and to keep city departments accountable.


Kenneth D. Massey
Age: 61
Occupation: Current mayor
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 60+ years
Online campaign information:
Education: PhD
Previously held elected offices: Council member, 2003-2015 (Mayor Pro Tem; 2006, 2010, 2015)
Top goals: While continuing to ensure all of our citizens feel included, and enjoy a high quality of life as part of our community, we need to plan for future economic challenges to ensure we are prepared to continue to meet resident needs, maintain safety, security, and improve infrastructure (water, roads, power grid). Planning for capital improvements while working with utilities to improve the stability of our electricity and gas grids which are vital to residents.


Theresa Rich (I)
Write-in candidate
Age: 59
Occupation: Attorney & part-time professor
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 27 years
Online campaign information:
Education: PhD – Business; two law degrees; MBA
Previously held elected offices: Oakland Schools Board of Education (Intermediate School District): 2010 – present.
Top goals: My #1 goal is securing our future: Our last visioning was in 2011. With our cyclical economy, FH must be prepared for the next slump while acknowledging that some residents have not recovered from the last downturn. Visioning must include economic growth, strengthening infrastructure, and increasing sustainability. We need to improve transparency and ensure that all our residents feel safe in their homes. To vote: (1) fill in the box, AND (2) write-in Theresa Rich.


Mary Newlin
Age: 57
Occupation: Registered nurse-manager working for a Fortune 6th ranked national healthcare company
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 33 years
Online campaign information:
Education: RN-Henry Ford Hospital, BSN-Wayne State University
Previously held elected offices: None
Top goals: Vision — A sustainability plan needs to be developed to continue economic growth, support our schools, our housing, public safety and services. The plan should change quickly to adapt to our diverse community needs. The plan needs to have resident involvement from all areas of our community. The plan needs to be transparent. The plan needs to support our present residents and develop our community so others choose to call Farmington Hills home.


Danette Duron-Willner
Age: 49
Occupation: Attorney
Municipality of residence: Farmington Hills
For how long: 11 and a half years
Online campaign information:
Education: Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Arizona, Juris Doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
Previously held elected offices: N/A
Top goals: I am running for City Council to keep our city strong while creating a vision and plan for our future. Priority one is to create a clear five-year vision and plan for Farmington Hills. This must be accomplished with urgency, transparency and holistically solicit community input. Another priority must focus on creating an easily accessible, inclusive and visible process for the public regarding the selection process and appointments to city boards and commissions.

Oakland Community College Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
This proposal authorizes Oakland Community College to continue to levy 0.7545 mill for operating purposes for 10 years as a renewal of millage previously approved by the electors in 2010, which expires with the 2021 tax levy.

Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be levied on all taxable property within the Oakland Community College district, State of Michigan, be renewed at a rate of 0.7545 mill ($0.7545 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2022 through 2031, inclusive, to provide funds for College operating purposes? It is estimated that if the millage is approved and 0.7545 mill is levied in 2022, it would raise $45,065,057 for the College.