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October 09, 2008 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-10-09

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

i r I Metro

Changing Of The Guard

New look awaits West Bloomfield board.

Bill Carroll
Special to the Jewish News


lthough she doesn't want to
appear overconfident, West
Bloomfield supervisor nominee
Michele Economou couldn't help doodling
out an agenda for the Nov. 20 township
board meeting, which takes place right
after the winners of the Nov. 4 election are
sworn in for four-year terms.
Township election officials expect about
39,000 people to cast ballots, about 2,000
more than in 2004 when the voter turnout
was 78 percent. Six of the nine candidates
on the ballot are Jewish, all Democrats.
Democrat Economou, 40, a newcomer
to West Bloomfield
politics, upset incum-
bent Supervisor David
Flaisher in the August
primary by more than
2,000 votes, achieving 64
percent of the vote. She's
heavily favored to defeat
David Flaisher Republican Jeff Matte,
51, a West Bloomfield
police officer, who
garnered 2,944 votes in an uncontested
primary. He has been a patrolman for 24
years and a township resident for more
than two decades. Salary for the supervi-
sor's post is $109,347 a year.
But Flaisher isn't going away quietly. He
has filed as an official write-in candidate
for the Nov. 4 vote, meaning voters must
write his name on the ballot; and the des-
ignation "Democrat," and the count will be
tallied separately by poll workers. No one
else has filed as a write-in so far, with the
deadline Oct. 21.
"I'll probably get a lot of abuse for run-
ning as a write-in, but I don't care says
Flaisher. "I'm doing it because I fear for the
very survival of the township if these new
candidates get into office. They're making
reckless promises and statements about
revenues and benefits for employees;
they're obviously swinging deals with the
unions if they win. I want to stay in office
and provide reason and financial stability
for the township."

Supervisor's Race
Economou, a business consultant and
journalist who moved to West Bloomfield
from Livonia seven years ago, says she

wants to run the township like a business
— "stay in front of the customer" — and
cut through a bureaucracy she feels has
hindered home improvements and busi-
ness expansion in the past eight years. "I
want to create a cooperative culture in the
community; give residents a voice in our
plans;' she says.
Her agenda includes developing a mis-
sion statement for the seven-person board;
appointing a citizens action council com-
posed of residents, businesspeople, clergy,
etc.; implement a township recycling pro-
gram; start to concentrate on new busi-
ness development to create more revenue
to offset reduced income; seek resource
sharing with nearby communities, offer-
ing services that would garner about $500
per ambulance/ fire department run, and
discuss restoring full health care and other
benefits to township employees due to be
reduced Jan. 1.
"I want to be West Bloomfield's main
lobbyist; my first effort will be to get
the Oakland County Road Commission
to advance the widening and re-paving
of Orchard Lake Road from late 2009 to
early in the year because the road is a
patched-up mess:' said Economou. "The
Northwestern Connector
projector is about $6
million under-funded
now, mainly due to the
expensive roundabouts
(nearly $10 million for
the Farmington Road-14
Mile Road alone)."
Married and the
mother of three children,
ages 3, 4 and 5, who will
be in an extended school
care program this year, Economou has co-
authored six books on business and qual-
ity standards. She has a master's degree
in public administration from Oakland
A big factor in her primary victory was
an endorsement by the West Bloomfield
Police Officers Association, with off-duty
officers campaigning for her at the polls.
She now also has the support of the
Firefighters and Police/Fire Dispatchers
She denies comments by Flaisher and
others that the unions supported her and
other challengers because they would
get a better contract (now in arbitration)

than one currently being offered. "Also, the
rumors that, if elected, I would fire many
department heads is absolutely untrue;'
she adds.
Her opponent, Matte, is not endorsed by
his own police colleagues, "but that's okay:'
he says, "because police and fire unions
shouldn't be endorsing candidates; it's just
not right. Public safety is the most impor-
tant item in our township."
Matte, a high school football player and
wrestler, has two master's degrees and a
bachelor's degree from Livonia's Madonna
University, teaches criminal justice there
and at a police academy and lectures on
domestic violence throughout the area. He
realizes he and the other two Republican
candidates on the ballot face an uphill
battle in the heavily Democratic township.
"It's clear the voters wanted a change by
ousting incumbents in the primary, but
we need a positive change;' he said. "We're
going downhill at a rapid pace economi-
cally. Our resident base is changing and
causing many problems. People are not
being treated properly at board meetings
and employees are not being handled
respectfully by the personnel staff."
Matte's agenda includes "getting the
road commission off center to speed up
Orchard Lake Road widening, plus the
mile roads"; consider electric vehicles,
or at least hybrids, for police; replace 25
township vehicles that now have 60,000
miles or more on them; possibly station a
police officer and firefighter with a small
vehicle full time at the Jewish Community
Campus, which experiences at least one
emergency run per day, usually to the
Fleischman or Hechtman residences.

Treasurer's Race
In the race to replace Denise Hammond,
who is retiring after 20 years as town-
ship treasurer, Jewish
Democrat Teri Adelberg
Weingarden faces Jewish
Republican Jason Feld.
She defeated Stuart
Brickner in the primary,
achieving 63 percent of
the vote, while Feld was
Teri Adelberg
A lifelong West
Bloomfield resident,
Weingarden, 38, has a master's degree
in industrial relations from Wayne State

University in Detroit and held executive
positions with several Fortune 500 compa-
nies. She's married and has two children.
She agrees West Bloomfield "must be
run like a business ... in order to achieve
cost savings, conserve revenue and
improve services.
"Banks struggling under mortgage debt
jeopardize the safety of the township's
investments:' she points out. "I will con-
tinue moving our township dollars to safe
banks and investigate ways to consolidate
our investments to save money.
"In good economic times, it's enough for
the treasurer to focus on collecting taxes,
dispersing and investing money. But in
the current climate, I believe the treasurer
must also be a creative leader who looks at
innovative ways to improve services and
processes while lowering costs to offset
declining revenues."
Weingarden says the old board was "too
negative and fragmented and didn't share
ideas. We must adopt a team concept." She
is affiliated with Congregation Shaarey
Zedek of Oakland County and Temple
Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield. She has
been endorsed by the West Bloomfield
Police Officers, Firefighters and Police/Fire
Dispatchers associations. The treasurer's
salary is $106,224.
Feld, 38, a five-year township resident,
has an accounting
degree and master's
degree in account-
ing form Troy's Walsh
College, and is corpo-
rate controller for the
Farbman Group in
Southfield, the larg-
est privately owned,
Jason Feld
commercial real estate
company in Michigan.
If elected, he says he has "already identi-
fied someone with more than 20 years
of municipal finance experience to be
deputy treasurer (the current deputy also
is retiring) to ensure a smooth, seamless
"While I'm concerned with providing
West Bloomfield residents with better
roads and quality police and fire services,
I'm even more concerned with the pro-
jected budget crisis brought to light at a
recent board meeting. According to pro-

Changing on page A14

October 9 • 2008


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