Meet the Candidates: Tom Pustelak
During the countdown to the Aug. 7 primary, Patch is bringing you profiles of the candidates running for office in West Bloomfield.
I graduated from Northwood University in 2006, a business-focused institution, with a dual-major in Economics and Management, along with a minor in Language Arts.
I am currently employed as teacher at a learning clinic, helping students who have learning difficulties due to autism, dyslexia, or because they are simply falling behind in their studies. I was an English teacher in South Korea from 2009-12.
I moved to West Bloomfield with my parents in 1997.
Activities or key endorsements you'd like to mention?
I was a proud walker in the 2012 Walk for Israel held at Temple Shir Shalom. I gathered petitions for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in 2006. Once upon a time, I was a Boy Scout in Troop 170 based out of Multi-Lakes Conservation Association in Commerce.
Why are you running for Trustee?
I am running because our board should have a conservative voice for taxpayers.
I’m running so that we don’t only have one perspective on our board. I believe in the competition of ideas and that having different ideas will improve our local government. Iron sharpens iron. One party government doesn’t work and I’m hoping to change that.
I am running because the people of West Bloomfield should have someone on the board who says, "Let’s not vote to put a new tax millage up this year." I’m running so we have a voice committed to protecting taxpayers and reforming local government to make it easier to start a business and thus create jobs in West Bloomfield. I’m running so that property owners in West Bloomfield will have fewer regulations and restrictions on them. I’m running so property owners can use their energy and entrepreneurship to thrive in a struggling economy, creating their own jobs and new jobs.
I’m running so that home owners can easily make improvements to their homes, if they need to do so.
Do you have new ideas you’d like to suggest for the position or township?
As a West Bloomfield Trustee, I would pledge to not vote for authorizing new tax millage proposals.
I believe that we need to promote transparency in our local government and that we should put township employee salaries and township contracts online for public inspection and review. Other townships have done this recently, there’s no reason it couldn’t be achieved in West Bloomfield as well.
As a trustee, I would say that our board should base township spending budgeting around current property values, not the inflated property values of the past decade. The old levels of West Bloomfield government funding were nice but are unsustainable with current property values and we’d be behaving as ostriches if we behaved otherwise.
As a West Bloomfield Trustee, I would prioritize spending based around "first responsibilities of government." It is likely that spending cuts at the township level will be necessary in the next four years and thus the board will need to determine where those cuts come from. I believe the first responsibility of government is public safety, then the protection and promotion of property rights. No cuts should come from fulfilling those duties.
I also believe that we should look into implementing term limits for locally elected officials, with a maximum of two terms for an office, such as is done with the President and Governor. This will promote new blood and ideas in our local government.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing the township? How would you handle them?
The biggest issue facing our township is how to balance the expectations of the local services provided over the past decade with the current level of property values. The township can no longer afford to fund the level of services that the bubble provided. Trying to raise property taxes, which our citizens can no longer afford due to the Great Recession, is simply a bad path.
The plain fact of the matter is that property values have sharply declined in West Bloomfield since the housing bubble burst, so property tax revenues have declined as well. I say raising the tax rates to above pre-bubble levels in order to make up for that lost revenue is not a sustainable plan because the people of West Bloomfield can’t afford it.
As a trustee, I would realize that we can’t continue on the current levels of spending. Thus, I would also say we can’t raise tax rates in order to manipulate revenues back up to pre-2008 levels. I’d apply the concepts of first responsibilities of government to how I would vote, in order to maximize the value of the taxpayer money that is spent.
Who else is running? Meet the candidates for the West Bloomfield Township Board Patch has interviewed so far:
- Supervisor: Michele Economou Ureste
- Supervisor: Jonathan Warshay
- Clerk: Cathy Shaughnessy
- Clerk: Neha Patel
- Treasurer: Teri Weingarden
- Treasurer: Gene Farber
- Trustee: Howard Rosenberg
- Trustee: Steven Kaplan
- Trustee: Larry Brown
- Trustee: Al Zara
- Trustee: Hartley Harris
- Trustee: Jeremy Kaplan
- Trustee: Tom Pustelak
- Trustee: Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer
- Trustee: Gerald J. Sukenic