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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Berkley City Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

THREE 4-year terms.Vote for up to THREE.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Steven W. Baker Member of City Council (currently the appointed Mayor Pro Tem) in the City of Berkley, and I drive Innovation and Strategic Facilitation for DTE Energy

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    Jack Blanchard Retired General Motors Engineer

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    Colleen Graveline Mother, Current Councilwoman

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    Dennis Hennen Software Engineer

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    Charles A. Tyrrell

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Biographical Information

Please provide biographical information and explain why you are running for City office and relevant qualities and skills you would bring to the position.

What are the top 3 Priority Issues that the city should address and what actions would you take regarding each of them?

I have served my neighbors and fellow Berkley residents for eight years as a member of city council (two as Mayor Pro Tem), liaison to the DDA and Historical Committee, and on regional and statewide boards. I seek to continue serving my community on city council.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Master’s Degree in Software Engineering from Oakland University, and graduated from distinguished training at Harvard Kennedy School. This education equips me to solve problems efficiently and effectively.

My accreditations include Project Management Professional and Certified Computing Professional. These reflect my ability to balance priorities, manage risks, and drive results.

Professionally, I design and lead strategic planning sessions, innovation workshops, and mediation and conflict resolution events. This experience deepens my ability to listen, understand, and work together to make informed decisions.

I ask for your vote so I may continue to leverage my experience and skills to listen, solve problems, manage budgets, and deliver more results for Berkley.
First and foremost, as a resident for almost 20 years, I love our city and truly enjoy helping others to do the same. As your neighbor, my inspiration is to serve you and ensure Berkley is the best place to live, work, and play. My key priorities are:

1. Infrastructure – Implement investments and strategic plans to further improve sewer lines, water mains, and surface streets for our households, our city, and our region. I too have suffered sewage damage several times, and will tirelessly work to fund and implement more actions.

2. Development – In alignment with our vision and values, I will guide our city to balance new construction, city infrastructure, and parking needs with the desire to grow Berkley in responsible ways. We must move forward in ways that improve, not hurt, our city.

3. Lifestyle – Ensure our neighborhoods, parks, police and fire, and library are safe and enjoyable, and develop a vibrant downtown with activities and businesses that meet our needs. With 13 recent statewide and national awards, we have made good progress – and there’s much more we can do!
My background includes 30 years’ service with the US Army, 12 years active duty and 18 years in the Army Reserve. I retired as a Colonel after many varied assignments in the Corps of Engineers to include: Engineer Battalion Commander, Deputy Engineer Group Commander and a US Army Reserve Forces School Commandant. After my active duty time, I joined General Motors as a diesel engineer and became the Assistant Chief Engineer for diesel engines before retiring in 2006. During my time in the army, I was involved in many major projects as an Emergency Operations Center Officer. I have continued my education in Emergency Management and in March of 2016, I was certified by the Michigan State Police as a Professional Emergency Manager. This in conjunction with my service as a volunteer firefighter with Berkley Public Safety for the past 32+ years have led to my working currently as a volunteer Emergency Manager for the city. I have help to develop plans for all of the City’s major events. I believe that with my background I can continue to be of service to the residents of Berkley
1. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY Continue the fiscal accountability/responsibility that has led to Berkley receiving an AA bond rating and audit comments that state “The city’s financial management remains sound, evidenced by its conservative budgeting and aggressive cost cutting actions enabling the preservation of healthy reserve levels, despite pressure from declining state aid revenues.”

2. COMMUNITY Maintain the distinctive community that our residents desire by improved emphasis on code enforcement. Other items underway are the Coolidge traffic study and the Way Finding Study.

3. SERVICES Continue to provide the municipal services and infrastructure improvements that meet or exceed our resident’s expectation. This is being done in spite of the fact that while state revenues increased during the period 2002 to 2012 by 29%, the revenues provided to the municipalities have decreased by 56%. We also need to improve and support our business districts by continuing to provide easily identifiable and accessible parking.

In marrying an Army man, we had 7 homes in 8 years. Then we found Berkley. Moving ceased, the family increased, and this town is as much a part of the family as the five kids within.

Yes, five kids. I refuse to say, “I am just a mom.” There is no way I would rather spend my time and talents. They bring out the best in me, and I strive to bring out the best in them. Kids make you focus on essentials: Do I identify what they need versus what they want? Do I encourage what they do well more than correct what they do wrong? Am I listening more than directing?

I take this same approach in my current city council role: needs should always come before wants. Emphasizing our strengths is not ignoring challenges. We have and will overcome tough problems, and solutions are best formed when we listen to our fellow residents.

Berkley takes great pride in being a family community. As such, moms give of themselves in the schools, with our sports, as business owners and volunteers. We are present and dedicated to making Berkley the best it can be. We need the same presence on our council.
In this moment, our sewers are under scrutiny. Yet, for months we have been analyzing options for the other vital pieces of our infrastructure—roads, water, and buildings. Past generations have built and nursed our current systems beyond their anticipated life. Now it is our turn to secure these systems for future generations. Honing the best plan for all infrastructure is priority #1.

Responsibly investing in it is #2. Public/private funding has been pursued, grants sought, creative uses explored, yet none can fully cover the needs we are facing. With a tax rate among the lowest of surrounding communities, we have room to reinvest in the bones of our beloved home while retaining our affordability.

Lastly, I often ask residents “how do you find out what is happening in the city?” Every answer is different. From Facebook to the Woodward Talk, the city must communicate clearly and concisely on many platforms. When you ask a question of your city—at any level—you should know when and how you will receive an answer. Closing this loop is key to earning and keeping your respect.
Our city council is not bad, but I think they can do better. The lack of competition in recent elections has led to complacency. The competition I bring will lead to the best possible council.

I will also bring a fresh perspective. I think having a diversity of opinions is important with the issues facing Berkley.

My background is mathematics and computer science, so l bring a methodical and logical approach to problem solving. I also understand some of the needs of small business, having run a successful consulting firm for many years.

I’ve always had a strong sense of justice. I’m attracted to causes that protect people from those more powerful, and rise to leadership roles in the organizations I join.

I’m an officer of the non-profit Berkley Citizens United. We’ve been working to protect our neighborhoods from aggressive overdevelopment and lax code enforcement, hold the city government accountable, and try to make sure they are working openly and transparently. One of my goals has been to get information out to the public and educate them on the issues facing our city.
Berkley can do better with communication. Things can be made easier to read and find. We can reach out better to people not online through mailers and signs. The city can do a better job listening by tracking people’s concerns and getting people’s input early and in less formal ways. I plan to hold “office hours” where folks can stop by and ask me questions and let me know what is on their mind.

Our historically lax code enforcement impacts the safety and quality of life of many. We need to make sure the new community development department takes these issues seriously. We need to make sure planning commission and ZBA volunteers are properly trained.

The city’s infrastructure and buildings need help. We need to continue the planned improvements to road and water and take a closer look at sewers. We must always have maintenance funding in place for anything we do. We need to invest in city hall before it is too expensive to fix. I support a modest but upgradable community center. We need to bring responsible options to a vote so people can prioritize what is important to them.
I have lived in Berkley for nearly 30 years. I do have a view of the City from over 20 years of volunteer experience on the Tree Board, and management, administrative and budget experience in the private sector. I have served on several Boards so I understand the rules under which they operate.

Local units of government, Berkley included, are facing stagnant revenues and increasing costs. Then there are the costs to maintain and upgrade infrastructure. With the recent spate of property tax increases (Zoo, DIA, Berkley Operating Millage, School District Bond) and others soon to follow (RTA, Regional Water Authority) there would not appear to be support for other local needs. As a bit of an outsider I have a different perspective, on how to get things done.

My business operations background would prove valuable to the business of serving the people of Berkley. I have brought forward the concept of service, successfully and will again to the Berkley City Council

Berkley is facing issues right now that need to be addressed right now. We need to re-focus the priorities of City government: 1. Public Safety, 2. Sewers, and 3. Water and Roads. We all know the results of a lack of focus, wet basements.

Public Safety is doing a fine job. I have had opportunity to work with them and have found them to be professional, thorough, and courteous. But when it came time, they could be as tough as they needed to be with lawbreakers. There have recently been some well-earned promotions within the department and I look forward to the new chief.

Seemingly not much has been done to address rain water issues. As I have listened to voters’ concerns across the City, I have heard several times that residents can not even remember the last time that they saw the big vacuum trucks cleaning out the catch basins. Seems like a pretty simple maintenance item. In the latest round of basement flooding, the administration was reported as saying that the sewer system worked “as designed”. Designed to flood basements? Time to change the design.

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