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July 03, 2008 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-07-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Metro

PRIMARY

Primary Focus

West Bloomfield voters face a crowded election field.

Bill Carroll

Special to the Jewish News

B

efore West Bloomfield residents
even go to the polls for the Aug.
5 primary, this much is certain:
The township will have a new clerk and
treasurer because Clerk Sharon Law, 64,
and Treasurer Denise Hammond, 61, are
retiring after 20 years each on the job
— five four-year terms. Their deputies
also are retiring.
Barring a write-in vote campaign, the
clerk's race will be decided at the primary,
not the Nov. 4 election, and the winner will
be a female Democrat because no males
or Republicans are seeking the job.
There will be at least three new mem-
bers of the four-person Board of Trustees
because Trustee Deborah Macon, 61, is
retiring after 12 years, Trustee Robert
Sher, an appointee, is stepping down after
two years, and Trustee Stuart Brickner,
who has served for 12 years, is running for
treasurer.
Thirteen of the 16 primary candidates
are Democrats and 10 are Jewish. Even
if the only three Republican nominees
— unopposed in the primary — eventu-
ally win, the board will have a Democratic
majority. Voters cannot split Republican
and Democratic tickets. About 25,000 of
West Bloomfield's approximately 65,000
residents are Jewish.
The Jewish News interviewed all of the
candidates:

SUPERVISOR ($109,347 per

year salary )

David Flaisher, incum-
bent Democrat
Seeking his third four-
year term as the head of
300 employees, Flaisher,
56, divorced with one
daughter, says his biggest
accomplishments were
David Flaisher
(1) implementing the
voters' millage approval
to add 10 police officers and 21 firefight-
ers. "That helped put out the Hechtman
Jewish Apartments fire quickly and evacu-
ate everyone:' he said; (2) starting the
twice yearly household hazardous waste
collections; (3) beginning major road
work, including two roundabouts along
Maple Road to alleviate traffic congestion

"although we told the Oakland County
Road Commission we're dissatisfied with
the condition of Orchard Lake Road:' not
due for widening to a six-lane boulevard
until late 2009. "I'd like to see a ballot
issue for us to take over maintenance of
local roads, and successfully complete the
Northwest Connector:' he added.
Flaisher, a former CPA and 20-year
West Bloomfield resident, wants to keep
balancing the township budget and con-
tinue to encourage business expansion.
He belongs to Adat Shalom Synagogue in
Farmington Hills and volunteers at the
Chabad-Lubavitch Friendship Circle in
West Bloomfield.

Michele Economou,
Democrat
Economou, 39, mar-
ried with three chil-
dren, states she doesn't
mind running against
an incumbent in the
same party because
Michele
"David Flaisher is not
Economou
doing his job in the best
interests of residents,
which is what I hear in my door-to-door
campaigning; they also are upset over the
roundabouts!" She added: "People tell me
it's too difficult to get permits to improve
their homes and businesses!' Flaisher
denies this.
If elected, she would run the township
like a business and "bend over back-
ward" to "heed the voice of the customer;
develop a vision and a plan." She feels the
Orchard Lake Road work should be given
priority over the roundabouts. Economou,
a six-year resident with a master's degree
in public administration, is a journalist
and business consultant, and has co-writ-
ten six books.

Jeff Matte, Republican
A West Bloomfield police officer for 24
years, with two merit certificates, Matte,
52, charges that the township is "going
downhill at a rapid pace economically;'
with a higher crime rate and poorer
property upkeep caused by new residents.
"The roads are a mess and we must get
the Oakland County Road Commission off
center," he adds.
"We should investigate having our own
public works department. We also need
more officers on the road and better pre-

paredness during storms." However, he
decries any tax increases. He and his wife
are 20-year residents.

CLERK ($106,224)

Sheryl L. Mitchell,
Democrat
A Parks & Recreation
Commission mem-
ber and former Cable
Advisory Board mem-
ber, Mitchell, 50, is a
senior analyst for the
Sheryl L.
Oakland County Board
Mitchell
of Commissioners. She's
divorced with one child
and an 11-year township resident.
"I applaud Sharon Law's 20 years of
service, the pioneering of electronic vot-
ing machines and her other accomplish-
ments," said Mitchell. "But I plan to bring
unique experience and a fresh perspective
to the job. I want to improve customer ser-
vice and try to create a culture of respect-
fill dialogue and better communication on
the board!'
She criticized the Oakland County Road
Commission's work and deplored its "lack
of accountability!'
Mitchell has a master's degree in public
administration from Central Michigan
University.

Heddie J. O'Connor, Democrat
Active in her lakes association for seven
years, O'Connor, 55, says she's a "team
player" and wants to work with other
board members for the betterment of the
township.
She says: "I want to establish a 'help-
ing-hands' volunteer program to assist
citizens in need, especially the elderly,
with home repairs, etc.; provide assis-
tance to residents during disasters; the
[Hechtman Apts.] fire could have used
a formal township [coordinator] work-
ing with victims and managemen, aid
citizens with digital TV conversion,
eliminate notary fees, enhance the town-
ship Web site, set up a 'hot line' for those
who are not computer savvy and develop
a high school program to get 18-year-old
students to vote."
O'Connor, married with one daughter,
is a 17-year West Bloomfield resident.
She is an independent business consul-
tant.

Cathy Shaughnessy,
Democrat
Shaughnessy, 51, says
Law did "an outstanding
job serving residents,
and I intend to maintain
that standard:' but wants
to review clerk office
Cathy
operations to possibly
Shaughnessy
"improve services!"
A former Wetlands
Review Board member, she advocates a
clean environment and such "green" initia-
tives as natural beauty roads and protect-
ing wildlife.
She helped raise funds for a Parks &
Recreation Community Center as past vice
president of the Concerned Citizens for West
Bloomfield. "I want to avoid cuts in labor
and benefits by seeking alternative ways to
reduce expenses now;' she points out.
Shaughnessy has lived in the town-
ship for 20 years and is married with
one daughter. She has been endorsed
by the West Bloomfield Police Officers
Association, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO,
American Federation of Teachers and
UAW Region 1.

TREASURER ($106,224)

Stuart Brickner,
Democrat
Brickner, 64, calls him-
self "a walking miracle"
because he survived
surgery for a malignant
brain tumor three years
ago and benefits from
Stuart
taking a "miracle drug"
Brickner
twice a week. With no
signs of his illness, he's
relinquishing the trustee post he has held
for 12 years and running for treasurer.
"We need help there because we're los-
ing more than 50 years of experience in
town hall [as Hammond, Law and Macon
retire] and I have the most experience
he said. "I'm a computer expert and well
qualified to handle the $185 million com-
ing through the treasurer's office yearly.
"My recommendation for establishing
a Township Pension Board and retaining
an investment firm [in 2003] has helped
increase pension fund assets from $34
million to $70 million!" Hammond says

Primary on page A14

Jr4

July 3 • 2008

A13

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