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Meet the Candidates: Michele Economou Ureste

During the countdown to the Aug. 7 primary, Patch is bringing you profiles of the candidates running for office in West Bloomfield.

Michele Economou Ureste

Education

I have a master's degree in public administration from Oakland University and a bachelor's degree in science from Central Michigan University, where I double majored in journalism and political science.

Professional background

I am currently serving a four-year elected term as West Bloomfield Township Supervisor. I worked as Vice President of statistical quality consulting company in West Bloomfield, worked as the quality system expert for the automotive industry to the OEM Supplier Quality Requirements Task Force, served two terms as Vice Chair of Publications for the American Society for Quality, worked for seven years at Ford Motor company and served a congressional internship for Senator Carl Levin in Washington, D.C.

Residence

I have lived on the North end of the township, surrounded by beautiful wetlands, since 2002.

Family

I am married to Matthew Ureste, and we have three children, Chloe, 9, Trinity, 7, and Rudy, 6, in the public school system.

Activities or key endorsements you'd like to mention?

I proudly received union endorsements from the UAW, AFL-CIO and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324.  I am a member, past member, provide or have provided charitable assistance to the Sierra Club, Oakland County Democratic Party, Rotary International, Tuskegee Airmen, Temple Beth El, , Optimist International, WAND, NOW, ASQ, , Chaldean Chamber, Leukemia Society, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, PTA and Greater Coalition for the Youth.

Why are you running for Supervisor?

I have two degrees in political science; as such, public service was my chosen career path. Prior to serving an elected term as Township Supervisor, I worked in a technical capacity with a non-profit trade association as the quality system expert facilitating over a dozen committees comprised of subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the industry to develop guidelines in support of the quality standards.

I greatly enjoyed working as the quality technical resource for the automotive industry. Likewise, I derive gratification as Supervisor in assisting the public with daily issue resolution and in an educational manner to gain compliance with local ordinances. In my professional experience I have seen first-hand how an organizational culture permeates an organization from top to bottom. Compromising board politics have interfered with achieving all of my customer service goals. My primary goals and objectives are to continue to improve the building permit process and customer satisfaction. Over the past four years, the township received its first e-Cities award recognizing the commitment toward continuous improvement in the building permit process. 

Utilizing my background and experience, I have made significant progress in reducing cost through restructuring, streamlining and automation efforts. My desire is to continue to build on these improvements. I have 20 years of work experience excelling in an executive leadership role.

Do you have new ideas you’d like to suggest for the position or township?

  • Constructing a water reservoir in 2014 to reduce peak water usage and water rates;
  • redirecting and converting the township’s organic and renewable waste (garbage) to a biomass facility in 2014 for a bio fuel, rather than to a landfill;
  • after accomplishing grounds and maintenance improvements at all township facilities over the past two years, what remains to be done is to reduce the township’s utility costs by purchasing gas and electricity from an alternate supplier through the Michigan Natural Gas Choice program;
  • continuing to diversify the township’s boards and commissions and workforce;
  • utilizing the financial projection model for multi-year budgeting;
  • amplifying upon efforts to maintain neighborhood integrity and economic redevelopment; and
  • restoring order township-wide.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the township? How would you handle them?

The greatest issue of concern and immediate goal is to restore order by rescinding a long-standing policy change that has given township employees seven elected officials to report to. This change has been described by several township employees as having resulted in a hostile work environment.

I empathize with these employees and have used my personal funds to attempt to resolve the matter by way of an appeal. I am hopeful that this will change as a result of the election and through future board action to rescind the policy change to 5.C.3.

Another considerable concern is road funding and the widening of Maple Road. has reached international acclaim and ingress and egress from a two-lane road is a safety concern. 

As the recent decrease in property taxes continues to face the budget at , what can be done to encourage residents and businesses to stay here? If elected, what are your top priorities to encourage economic development?

In 2009, the township was a first time recipient of the President’s Award, due to Trustee Kaplan and I working collaboratively on the Best of the West event which included a jobs fair. The local economy is responsive to changes in employment.

Three years ago, I established a developer roundtable to develop annual economic development plans, which includes a focus on not only business retention, but business development, by attracting businesses and jobs to the area. As such, I worked with the County in procuring a medical business prospect mailing list to attract business which could lease vacant office space on the Orchard Lake and Haggerty business corridors.

This year will be the third year that the township will exhibit at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) annual conference. The township has received positive feedback from developers at this conference, as it is perceived that the township places a greater value in economic redevelopment.

In my first month in office, I included the cost to procure the permitting module which was approved in the 2009 budget. In 2011, the automation in the building and the data integration with other departments was completed. The township’s building department no longer operates out of six filing cabinets as it had in 2008. Plus, policies, procedures and checklists have been developed for the Community Development Department. Fire inspectors have doubled to alleviate the bottleneck stemming from fire inspections. Development review committee meetings are scheduled with developers to finalize a punch list to receive their certificate of occupancy. The goal is to continue to build on all of these improvements and further streamline administrative processes in Community Development. The Master Plan, which was updated in 2010, is an important reference document for business prospecting. 

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Who else is running? Meet the candidates for the West Bloomfield Township Board Patch has interviewed so far:

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