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Big Election from page 16
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campaigns over the years, he says.
"I support the Orthodox community;
I support all our communities. I don't
play one community against another,"
he says. "Their argument is that I've
been in office too long."
A young Orthodox supporter of
Naftaly calls him "an excellent mayor"
who is receptive to new ideas.
"I think the crime rate has gone
down here. I think he's trying his best;'
says Shea Margolis, 18. Next month,
he'll vote for the first time.
'Agent Of Change'
McClellan, a retired teacher, has
accused Naftaly of not replacing public
safety officers who have retired or vol-
untarily left the force — a contention
the mayor disputes. She is not, how-
ever, running on a crime-fighting plat-
form. Rather, she is promoting herself
as an agent of change who will com-
municate with residents and city hall
in a more open fashion than Naftaly.
"We need a mayor with leadership
and vision who can return us to a sense
of community," she says.
McClellan, 67, has not held elec-
tive office nor served on a city board
or commission. Her political experi-
ence includes serving as chairperson
of the Oak Park-Huntington Woods
Democratic Club, as an executive
board member of the Oakland County
Democratic Party and as a city precinct
The candidate has the backing of
some impressive organizations and
folks: State Sen. Vincent Gregory,
whose district includes Oak Park,
has endorsed McClellan, along with
Democratic State Reps. Rudy Hobbs
(Lathrup Village) and Ellen Cogen
Lipton (Huntington Woods), the
Oak Park Police Officers Association
and AFSCME (American Federation
of State, County and Municipal
Employees), which represents city
She denies that her son, who served as
a state representative before being elect-
ed county treasurer, has been instru-
mental in winning the endorsements.
Aside from "Mondays with Marian,"
weekly town meetings McClellan plans
to hold at the library, she plans to bring
Oak Park businesspeople together,
clean up blighted areas of the city,
bring residents together with street
cleanups and flower sales, and promote
Oak Park outside its borders. She also
plans to address derelict properties on
the city's south side.
As for concerns in the north end
about security in the wake of past
assaults on Orthodox Jews, McClellan
says, the city "needs to prioritize so
that all parts of the city have adequate
There is a perception among some
residents, however, that the north part
of Oak Park, which is majority white,
gets better services than the south end,
which is more ethnically and racially
Her message has caught on among at
least one African American voter.
"I'm supporting her because I believe
she brings a fresh perspective,' said
Shaniya Jarrett, a health care adminis-
trator who lives south of 10 Mile. "She
wants to be mayor for all of Oak Park,
not just a segment." Jarrett complained
that Naftaly is not engaged with the
Oak Park School District — one of
three that serves the city.
Solomon Radner, a 27-year-old
Orthodox Jewish attorney who held a
meet-and-greet for McClellan at his
home in early September, wrote in an
email message that he hopes "our new
mayor and the Oak Park Police, which
incidentally endorsed Marian, will have
a great working relationship and help
ensure that all our neighborhoods are
In the same message, Radner criti-
cized Naftaly for "spearheading" a $14
million bond issue to build a new city
hall while the city faces one of the
county's highest foreclosure rates, has
laid off police officers and cut employee
Stan Pope, a Naftaly supporter,
says he feels secure, largely because
the mayor has been responsive to his
concerns about crime and hooligan-
ism, sending out public safety officers
when he's called. And, Pope says,
Naftaly has the experience "to get the
"I don't trust anybody else to be in that
position, especially someone who hasn't
been on city council or had any office in
the city:' says Pope, who operates a busi-
ness that sells and services equipment for
tanning salons. He has lived in south Oak
Park for nearly 17 years.
The mayor also has the support of
most, if not all, city council members.
Councilman Paul Levine says he
likes and respects McClellan and, if she
is elected, he could work with her.
But criticizing the mayor over budget
cuts that have affected employee bene-
fits and city hall hours isn't entirely fair,
Levine says, given the hard times fac-
ing all Michigan municipalities, which
are limited in the taxes they can collect
from citizens and the revenues they get
from the state.
Naftaly's toughness in negotiations
with city unions like the Police Officers
Association reflects an awareness of the
fiscal realities facing the city, Levine says.
"Mayor Naftaly has been mayor a
long time and understands a lot of the
workings of the city:' he says. "He looks
after the city quite well."