- Wayne State University, Bachelors in Business Administration, Accounting major
- Cass Technical High School
- Continuing professional education in government administration, pension plans, accounting, assessing & taxation
- Leadership & Professional Development workshops sponsored by the Michigan Township Association
Thirty years of experience in finance and accounting in the public, private and nonprofit sectors including budget development and budget oversight. Registered CPA license in State of Michigan. Owned a small business and worked in manufacturing. Eight years as Township Supervisor, during which time the Charter Township of West Bloomfield was recognized as the 14th Best Place to live by Money Magazine and earned AA+ bond rating. Successfully lead efforts that resulted in retiring millions of dollars of Township debt and interest expense achieving a $12 million surplus in 2008.
How long have you lived in town and where? Do you live with family?
Proud resident of West Bloomfield for nearly 25 years. My home is near Farmington and Walnut Lake Roads. We raised our daughter here and she attended Green, OLMS and West Bloomfield High School where I was active with the PTO.
Affiliations or endorsements
Chair: United We Walk, Michigan Week Committee. Board member: Cass Tech Alumni. Member: Adat Shalom Synagogue, Optimist Club of West Bloomfield, Chaldean Chamber, Southern Oakland NAACP, Green PTO and OLMS PTO. Volunteer: Friendship Circle
Endorsements: Democrats, Republicans and Independents who believe I will fill the leadership void at Town Hall.
Explain why you're running for township supervisor
Bring sound financial stewardship and positive, collaborative leadership to our township. The residents generously approved a Public Safety Millage increase. Professional management of the Township’s finances and budget is lacking. There have been large reductions of personnel in the Police and Fire Departments that did not have to take place if more resources were properly allocated to these areas. There is a general lack of knowledge and experience relative to running an organization of the size and type of West Bloomfield in the current administration. The dysfunction is harming the morale of employees and the reputation of the community. I will focus our attention on maintaining our neighborhoods with proper code enforcement and attracting and retaining businesses to stabilize our economic base.
Re-establish and strengthen relationships with ALL members of the West Bloomfield Township Board - specifically to improve services to residents. I will lead creation of a professional team environment at Town Hall, focusing consistently on civility and mutual respect. Repairing relationships with the Oakland County officials will encourage investment in needed road improvements, previously reallocated to other communities. This opens the door to collaborative partnerships and future cost-savings.
Information will be transparent and all decision-making will be made in the open. I intend to end this culture of dissention, bickering, and toxic relationships on the Board. I will work with everyone. My office will be fully accessible to my colleagues on the Township Board. I want to return mature, responsible, and ethical leadership to the office of Township Supervisor.
Could you share key points of your platform and any changes you'd like to make to accomplish your platform?
The office of Supervisor is a fiduciary responsibility and a position of trust. This has been lost in recent years. My conduct and leadership will restore the dignity, respect, ethics, professionalism, and integrity to the office.
We must find innovative ways of providing the highest quality services to our residents. We must explore opportunities for sharing resources with the Library, Parks and Recreation and School District for cost-savings and improved service delivery.
As is true for most of Michigan and Oakland County, West Bloomfield’s population is growing older. We need to first insure that the support services that are needed by an aging population are accessible. But, we also need to implement a strategy to attract young adults and families. A thriving community is critical to our sustainability.
There has to be reform to the method of funding roads. Currently, Townships stand almost no chance of obtaining Federal funds for road improvements due to the way the road projects are ranked. Cities invariably receive most of the funds, and Townships are totally dependent on County Road Commissions to obtain their road funds. I will work to change this inequity.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing the township? How would you handle them?
The ongoing loss of revenue due to declining property values, combined with annual double digit increases in the cost of health insurance and other costs continues to be the number one issue facing all local governments. It is imperative to create a respectful working environment were all parties, including management, labor, vendors, and taxpayers are willing to work together in order to lay the foundation for a solid tax base and sustainable community standards.
One way to work with residents is to create opportunities where they can be a part of the solution. I am active with several community organizations in our town, this is a rich resource and provides a tremendous opportunity for future collaborations.
Thousands of residents have lost their homes due to foreclosure, and thousands more are barely staying afloat. Unemployment is high and so is the apprehension many families have for their futures. The Township must conduct all of its business in a way that is sensitive to the taxpayers, and not ask them for one more tax dollar than is absolutely necessary to provide essential services. And, we have a solemn obligation to be good stewards of the hard earned tax dollars they have entrusted with us.
As the recent decrease in property taxes continues to face the budget at Town Hall, what can be done to encourage residents and businesses to stay here? If elected, what are your top priorities to encourage economic development?
During my term in office, West Bloomfield was ranked as the 14th best place to live by CNN/Money Magazine. It has since then dropped to 37th place. We need leadership that is able to revitalize our community and enhance our reputation as a desirable area in which to live, recreate and conduct business.
One issue is the lack of availability of capital to invest in new business and construction, caused by the poor economy. In order promote economic development we fostered public-private partnerships. I will restore the innovative policies that we had during my administration to encourage residents and businesses to stay here.
- During my two terms as Supervisor, we collaborated with Henry Ford and Beaumont Hospitals to facilitate their major expansions in West Bloomfield, and create thousands of high skill jobs here.
- We made the ordinance amendments needed to allow the redevelopment of the Old Orchard (Farmer Jack) shopping center that has taken place.
- We combined engineering, planning, and building to streamline the process of getting projects approved, and to cross train the staff.
- Residents are attracted to high quality school districts, public safety, amenities, such award-wining parks and libraries, and many other intangible quality of life factors.
- We initiated the “Why West Bloomfield” marketing program to attract business and residents, and were ranked the 14th best place to live by CNN/Money Magazine.
- My leadership will develop and implement strategies to reinvigorate West Bloomfield’s neighborhoods and business districts.
Who else is running? Meet the candidates for the West Bloomfield Township Board Patch has interviewed so far:
- Supervisor: Michele Economou Ureste
- Clerk: Cathy Shaughnessy
- Treasurer: Teri Weingarden
- Trustee: Howard Rosenberg
- Trustee: Steven Kaplan
- Trustee: Larry Brown
- Trustee: Tom Pustelak
- Trustee: Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer