The Independent sent out questionnaires to candidates for Van Buren Township elective offices so they could tell their stories in advance of the Aug. 2 Primary Election. All 12 are Democrats. No slates have been announced. The candidates submitted their information and this is what they said.
Three candidates are running for four-year terms as supervisor: Trustee Phillip Hart, Trustee Brenda McClanahan and former Wayne County Commissioner Kevin McNamara.
Phillip Hart for Supervisor
Phillip C. Hart, 58, has lived at 12992 Linda Vista with his wife Karen since they built the house in 1986. They have two daughters, Ashley and Blair, both graduates of Belleville High School and Eastern Michigan University.
He has lived in the township for 33 years and last September retired from the Ford Motor Company after a 38-year career. He held multiple technical and management positions at the Dearborn Engineering Research Center. As a Ford New Model Launch Specialist, he was responsible for leading diverse launch teams in the introduction of new model vehicles at Ford facilities in the U.S. and abroad.
He is currently serving his fifth, four-year term as a VBT Trustee. As a trustee he has served on the Board of Zoning Appeals, Cable Commission, Environmental Commission, the Public Safety and Lake committees and the Solid Waste negotiating committee.
Hart holds a BBA – Bachelor in Business Administration – from Northwood University and an Associates Degree in Commerce from Henry Ford Community College, Citizens’ Community Planner Certification from Michigan State University, and is a member of the Michigan Township Association Governance Academy.
He is a member of the Belleville Area Chamber of Commerce, St. Anthony’s church, and Belleville Yacht Club.
Hart said he is running for office because he has the education and experience and will able to hit the ground running on day one.
A goal once elected: “Resolve Visteon Village Bond issue: The issue is how does the township avoid a default and meet the expected bond payment deficiencies when they arise? Background: The township structured a $29 million bond to help pay for infrastructure improvements in support of the construction of Visteon World Headquarters located near I-275 and Ecorse Road. The bond was to be paid by tax revenue generated from Visteon Village and the LDFA district. However, due to recessionary property devaluations and less tax revenue being generated, an expected bond payment deficiency is projected in 2019. The township is in litigation with Visteon, however, I will recommend to the board of trustees that we take a dual path of reserving funds annually to offset revenue deficiencies until the case is successfully litigated.”
He also will plan for future development and growth and re-development of vacant sites such as the Farmer Jack building. He would like to see an anchor store such as a Big Bass Pro Shop, Field & Stream, Hobby Lobby or Bed Bath and Beyond.
Also, providing the highest level of public safety at an affordable cost is his objective. He said the police and fire services are in high demand and the employees are extremely busy.
“I will study our current support structure with our Director and Chiefs, working closely with them to identify critical needs and opportunities to meet the demands for service.”
Brenda McClanahan for Supervisor
Brenda McClanahan, of 42783 Tavistock Drive, is married to Carl McClanahan and her daughter is Dr. Ayana Wilson.
She currently is a Van Buren Township Trustee and Adjunct Lecturer with Wayne County Community College District -Western. She formerly held the position of Adjunct Lecturer in the Masters of Arts Program at Saginaw Valley State University teaching “Organizational Finance.”
McClanahan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from University of Phoenix and a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University
She was elected to the Van Buren Public Schools Board of education as a Trustee from 2008-2012. She held the position of vice-president during her tenure.
She was appointed to the Van Buren Township Public Safety Committee in 2009 by former Supervisor Paul White. She currently serves as the VBT board liaison for the Water & Sewage Commission.
McClanahan is a member of the University of Phoenix Alumni Association, Central Michigan University Alumni Association, Michigan Association of School Boards, Retired (Sergeant) Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association Member Emeritus, and Triumph Church.
She said she is running for office because, “I held several leadership positions in my previous law enforcement career. I’m a proven leader who believes in honest, transparent government that represents the interest of our residents. I believe in government providing a safe and secure environment in which our residents can live and raise their families. Our residents deserve a Supervisor who has a graduate-level education and experience working in government for over 25 years. I thoroughly believe that service to the public is a privilege and not an entitlement. My candidacy boils down to my belief that I am the right candidate at the right time to be the Supervisor for Van Buren Township.”
Her goals, once elected: “I will maintain a strong, well-managed public safety department. Public safety will always be my top priority. I will ensure that our township provides the best possible customer service to our residents and visitors.
“I will ensure that your tax dollars are used wisely by requiring our directors to be fiscally responsible and accountable to their budget allocations. I will work with the administrators of Belleville High School and the administrators at Wayne County Community College to provide a gateway to those students who are interested in obtaining college credit while attending high school. Finally, I will ensure that our employees are sensitive to the needs of our residents.”
Kevin McNamara for Supervisor
Kevin McNamara, 58, lives at 45768 Prairiegrass Ct. with his wife Aida. They have two children, daughter Jamie and son Cullan.
He is a business consultant and attended University of Michigan, Dearborn, and the Senior Executives in Government Program at Harvard Kennedy School.
He was elected to the Schoolcraft College Board of Trustees, 2001-06; Wayne County Commissioner, 2006-14, representing Van Buren Township; and ran unsuccessfully for Wayne County Executive in 2014.
McNamara was appointed to Wayne County Metro Airport Authority Board, Head Start board member (past chairman), SEMCOG delegate (chair of the Finance Committee).
He belongs to the Sierra Club, Friends of Belleville Library, WAVE (assisting elderly with water bills), Eagles and Lions Club.
“For 10 years I have been in positions overseeing most of the Western Wayne County communities. I know what has worked and what hasn’t worked in these communities. Using this understanding, I see that Van Buren is at a crossroads. It has the ability to achieve premier status in the region, but, right now, it is not headed that way.
“I want to use my experience and knowledge to help Van Buren Township live up to its potential. My goal is to improve the quality of life for Van Buren residents and to make it a prominent community, envied by the region.
“Experts say townships run best with 30 to 50 thousands residents. Currently, we are at 30,000 and we should be in no hurry to get to 50,000. We should not take whatever development comes along. High density condos and apartments cost us money in crime, traffic congestion, and infrastructure construction – and they do not add to the quality of life. Truck stops and business blight at our freeway entrances clutter our community’s ‘front door’ and lessen our property values. We should work to attract vibrant shops and restaurants that add to the charm of our community.
“Township leadership needs to be community-focused. We are lucky enough to have a beautiful lake, yet we have no quality lake front access. The DNR site off Belleville Road at the Bridge should be made into a community park/center in order to provide lakefront access for all of our citizens. I will also work to form a Homeowners Association Advisory Council to bring the subdivisions into the decision-making process in township government, following successful modes like Canton, Northville, and Bloomfield Hills. This way, the community has more say in how decisions are made. Not only this, I will make sure Police and Fire has the resources it needs to keep our community safe.
We also need to improve our roads. I will start with working to get trucking companies off our two-lane connector roads and route them to larger roads that can handle big rigs. I will also work with Wayne County to build roads that have concrete intersections to avoid premature potholes. I will establish code enforcement that works to clean up residential blight, acknowledging that some blight is due to the infirmities of the owners, and will get them the help they need to conform.
“The biggest problem of all is a school system that is perceived as sub-standard. We have wonderful, caring teachers and staff, top-notch facilities, first rate programs like band, athletics, drama and art, but low test scores are defining us. We need to make a statement as a community that our children’s education is a top priority.
“That is why I am proposing that we create a privately funded ‘Van Buren Promise’ to provide two years of Community College education to every Van Buren child that graduates from Belleville High School. It has worked in other communities, driving up test scores as much as 30% and housing values along with it.
Web site: www.electkevinmcnamara.com
Leon Wright for Clerk
Running for reelection as township clerk is Leon Wright, who is unopposed in the primary election.
Sharry Budd is seeking re-election as Township Treasurer and Harry Roesch, III, is also seeking the position.
Sharry Budd for Treasurer
Sharry A. Budd, 74, 42700 N. I-94 Service Drive, has lived in the township for 51.5 years and is seeking reelection as treasurer.
Her husband William (Bill) died on March 2. They have three sons: James, Jay, and Jeffrey, all married. There are eight grandchildren.
Budd graduated from Huron High School, attended Wayne County Community College District, and is a Certified Public Finance Official. She was serving on the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education in 1992 when she was appointed Deputy Clerk of Van Buren Township. She has been township Treasurer for 20 years.
“I was born and raised in Huron Township. Fifty-one years ago I moved to Van Buren Township when I married my late husband William. Together we raised our three sons. I have deep roots in our community and still live on the farm that has been in my husband’s family for several generations.
“I have served on the school board and have been the township Treasurer for the past 20 years. I am an active member of September Days, Chamber of Commerce, Historical Society, Van Buren Civic Fund and township Planning Commission. I have participated in numerous seminars and training sessions in governmental matter. I am a certified Municipal Finance Administrator.
“I am running for re-election because I want to continue to serve our community. I understand the needs and wants of our residents and believe that my financial experience, commitment, and integrity will help Van Buren Township grow responsibly.
“My priority as Treasurer for the past 20 years has been to provide the highest level of service. I am responsible for the collection, investment and distribution of over $80 million of property taxes annually and have consistently received exemplary audits.
“Our computer system has been updated to better serve the public. Residents can review tax information and pay tax and water bills on line. We have enabled charge card payments, installed a curbside drop box and run an annual drive through dog licensing event. I will continue to seek to improve service.
“There are a number of serious issues facing the township including the Visteon bond shortfall and providing adequate funding for public safety and other township services. As a member of the Township Board, I will utilize my experience and knowledge of our community to address these issues in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Harry Roesch, III for Treasurer
Harry Roesch, III, age 67, of 47541 North Shore Drive, is seeking the office of Treasurer. He is married to Edith and retired from Great Lakes Steel.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Roesch has lived in the township for 11 years and unsuccessfully ran for treasurer four years ago. He has been on the VBT Board of Review for five years.
He serves on the Board of Directors of Community Focus Federal Credit Union.
He said he is running for office because of “my disappointment that no progress has been made towards the Visteon debt. Business as usual with six years wasted.”
Once elected, his goal would be to “find ways to reduce the Visteon debt without raising taxes. Work with the Board of Trustees and other elected officials sharing ideas and forming the best solution for VBT, respecting and supporting all VBT employees.”
If elected, Roesch said he will donate 10% of his salary to local organizations.
Six candidates are running for four, four-year Trustee seats on the township board.
Sherry Frazier for Trustee
Sherry Frazier, 67, of 41167 South I-94 Service Drive, has lived in the township for 35 years.
Her husband was the late Wayne Frazier and their children are William Frazier, Suanna Frazier-Abbasi, and Andrew Frazier. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, a Specialist degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.
She retired from the Plymouth-Canton School District and has been a licensed Realtor for more than 30 years.
Frazier was elected to the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education four times and served 1984-88, 1988-92, 2010-14, and 2014-preseent.
She was appointed to the Wayne Oakland Library Federation Board (vice president) presently The Library Network. She was appointed when it went through great changes in serving public libraries. Belleville Area District Library is a member. She was the U of M Liaison to the White House Conference on Libraries.
Frazier is a board member for the Belleville Area Council for the Arts, a member of the Belleville Area Museum, National Association and Michigan Association of Realtors, Greater metropolitan Association of Realtors, Michigan Association of School Boards, and Southwestern Wayne (County) Democratic Club.
She enjoys her family grandkids, dogs, reading, staying active and enjoying her blessings.
She said she is running because: “I think it is time for a fresh perspective at the Trustee Board table. I believe I have the skill set needed to positively impact our community. I am committed to public service as I have demonstrated by serving four terms on the Van Buren School Board, as Vice President, Treasurer, and Trustee.
“I will stand up for what is best to move the Township forward while watching out for taxpayers. I have a vested interest in seeing the Township thrive since my present occupation, as a Realtor, is all about selling communities. A thriving community has a strong Public Safety program, good schools with a full academic and extracurricular program, amenities like an active seniors program, parks and recreation, major road connectors like I-94 & 275, educational hub close to major universities and community college opportunities, a useable beautiful recreational lake, cultural activities like museum, library, Council for the Arts, League of Women Voters, the list for Van Buren Township goes on. These amenities make Van Buren Township an attractive place to live and raise a family.
“It is imperative that we continue to grow and provide a vision for our residents. One that attracts new businesses, tech companies, and health organizations, but most important new families that want to call Van Buren Township home.
“If elected I will seek input from fellow board members, employees, residents, and the business community. I believe COMMUNICATION is vital and healthy debates over important issues can benefit our community. I want the highest level of services for our residents accomplished through a cost-effective manner to eliminate unnecessary expense.
“We need to network more with county, state, and Federal agencies to make the most of our tax dollars. We have issues facing the township that could impact our budget. The Visteon bond issue will soon come due, and costs would have to be passed on to our taxpayers. We need to be pro-active and have a plan in place.
“Health and retirement costs for Public Safety employees will continue to rise. We need to have a strong vision in place. Keeping taxes down while attracting businesses and families are key to becoming a premier community,” she concluded.
Kevin D. Martin for Trustee
Kevin D. Martin, 60, of 9405 Madison Drive, has lived in the township for 20 years and is seeking the position of Trustee. He is married to Lisa Martin.
Martin is a HVAC-R Skilled Trades worker at General Motors, Romulus Engine Plant. He is a member of the Romulus High School Class of 1974 and did apprenticeship training at Henry Ford College.
This is his first bid for public office.
Martin has been a member of UAW Local 163 since 1977 and belongs to the NAACP. He is a trustee with the Western Wayne Democratic Club, a trustee of the Charter Club Estates Homeowners Association and the Civil Rights Representative for UAW Local 163. His hobbies include reading and bowling.
He is running for Township Trustee because, “… after 20 years of living here and watching VBT grow, I want to play a role in our continued progress. I want to bring a diversity of life experience to the township’s leadership and work to ensure the continued financial integrity of VBT through the effective use of our tax dollars. I want to work to maintain the safe neighborhoods and increasing property values. I want to ensure that our public safety department has the funding that is needed to deliver the services desired by residents.
“Once elected, I have two main goals to accomplish as a Trustee. First, I would bring transparency and integrity to the office of Trustee by having quarterly public forums in addition to the regular twice-monthly board meetings where board actions would be discussed, explained, and questions answered concerning issues that may be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of township residents. These forums would also be used for citizens to voice other concerns related to VBT. Second, I would bargain in good faith with all of our labor unions and maintain a good working relationship with the men and women that work for our community,” he said.
Reggie Miller for Trustee
Reggie Miller of 13697 Pond Bluff Drive has lived in the township for the past 16 years. She moved to Belleville in 1996.
She currently is completing her first, four-year term as Township Trustee and is the only incumbent Trustee seeking reelection.
She is married to her college sweetheart and they raised their two children in the community. She works as a part-time, self-employed courier/messenger service.
Miller earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in marketing from Cleary University in Ann Arbor, graduating summa cum laude. She also holds an Associate degree with a double major in marketing and communications from Purdue University North Central, Indiana.
She is a graduate of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, which is a multi-partisan progressive leadership program on effective governance. She also is a graduate of the Township Governance Academy through the Michigan Township Association.
As Township Trustee she served as board liaison for both the Senior Endowment Committee and the Elections Committee. She is an active member of the Southwestern Wayne Democratic Club.
Previously, Miller served as the former vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, executive director of the National Strawberry Festival, and vice president of the Belleville Downtown Development Authority.
Miller is a member of the League of Women Voters. She has volunteered for two homeowners’ associations serving in different roles and was a former Savage School volunteer in the resource room and has volunteered over the years throughout the community. She also volunteers for the Salvation Army annual holiday kettle drive.
Miller enjoys gardening, photography, traveling, and bike riding. She and her husband are members of Trinity Episcopal Church.
She said she is running for re-election, “… because I believe that local government works best when focused on serving residents’ needs. I will continue to preserve, promote, and protect our community, while being fiscally responsible with our township budget. I will continue to take common-sense approach to serving the hard-working taxpayers of our community by listening to their concerns, and I pledge to put ‘people before politics.’ I also believe in giving back to the community and donated, as promised, over one year’s salary to the local schools, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and to the Belleville Area Council for the Arts. I will work hard for you because I have a passion for the work that I do as your public servant.
“I am running with the vision to preserve, promote, and protect Van Buren Township. I will continue to serve my community by using common sense and good judgment. I will not be influenced in a negative way, or by outside noise. I will base my decisions on facts, not favoritism, political ties or personal agendas.
“I will work with the new supervisor and board to continue to work on the strategic plan to move our community forward, helping to promote local businesses, and the unique qualities that Van Buren Township has to offer such as the beautiful lake and recreational activities.
“Public safety will continue to be a high priority. I will advocate against fracking waste from other states being shipped into VBT. If re-elected, I will work with other elected officials to better serve my community. I will also promote and encourage the Board of Trustees to work together cohesively to accomplish goals that we focus upon” and much more.
Albert H. Ostrowski for Trustee
Albert H. Ostrowski, 61, of 41720 Savage Road, has lived in the township for 13 years. He has three grown children — Donald, Albert Jr., and Shelby – and seven grandchildren.
He is a 1974 graduate of Gabriel Richard High School.
Ostrowski served as a VBT Trustee in 2008-12 and is seeking his second term.
“I have been in public service for the past 20 years, either as an Animal Control Officer for 20 years, elected official (VBT Trustee 2008-12) or through my private business, Al’s Wildlife Removal Service (since 2007). I have enjoyed serving the public over the years and hope to continue to do so in the future,” he said.
He said he is running for office as a way to give back to the community.
“There will be trying times ahead as this township moves forward. We may be losing revenue from the Visteon fiasco and loss of landfill funds in a few years. If we can’t recoup monies that were dedicated to Visteon years ago, one just has to look at the City of Allen Park which lost MILLIONS to a failed film company. They eventually had to have an Emergency Manager come in to take over. I hope we don’t have to go down that road, but it could become a reality. The residents of this township should be prepared,” he said.
“We need to start planning now to deal with lost revenue” from Visteon and landfill funds, he said.
“I favor a strong, dedicated, separate Police Department and Fire Department. We will need to look at ‘legacy costs’ (the blended rate issue comes to mind) through the coming years as we move forward and try to minimize those costs. I didn’t agree with the way the ‘Public Safety’ millage increase was mismanaged through our elected officials. Definitely a lack of foresight on their part. Residents deserve better. I will demand accountability from those in leadership positions in every department.
“I am a member of the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers and vice president of The Buster Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit Pitbull Education and Rescue based here in Van Buren Township.”
Ostrowski said he will continue to support public safety with a millage increase.
Paul D. White for Trustee
Paul W. White of 17329 Haggerty Road has lived in the township for more than 50 years. He and his wife Sue have an adult son Barry.
He retired from Kroger Company in 2001 after 36 years of service and management experience.
His hobbies include helping bluebirds to survive, fishing, and flower gardening.
White was elected VBT supervisor and served 2008-12. He was unsuccessful in a bid for re-election.
Now, he is running for a Trustee position.
He is a high school graduate, finishing near the top of his class, and has one year of college. He took many classes and trainings as supervisor.
He said he is running for office to have influence in budgetary expenditures, increase professional appointments to committees and commissions, and work for better transparency on millage requests and budget expenses.
Once elected, White said he would take action to force Visteon to pay the bond payment shortfall as it promised, promote transparency in the general budget, and work for professional, not political, appointments to commissions and committees.
Anthony Woodford for Trustee
Anthony Woodford, 65, of 42797 Tavistock Dr., has lived in the township for 15.5 years. He has been married to Janis for 27 years and they have a son Michael Carter, who is a computer security analyst; and daughters Rheutelia Carter, a police officer in Detroit, and Veronica Hullum, a school teacher in Ann Arbor.
“I love to play chess and collect chess sets from all over the world,” Woodford said.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus in technology from Wayne State University and a Master’s degree in interdisciplinary Technology with a focus in Police Management from Eastern Michigan University. He also is a graduate of the EMU School of Police Staff and Command and a graduate of the Federal Investigative Services Division, Special Agent Academy.
Woodford is retired. This is his first bid for public office.
He is a member of the Wayne State University Alumni Association, the Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association, and the Detroit Police Department Lieutenants and Sergeants Association.
He said he is running for office, “to be a positive representative of the citizens of VBT as a Trustee because they need objective, accountable, and transparent representation on the governing board.”
Once elected, his goal is, “to address and resolve the prioritized, urgent matters, while also working diligently to leverage the assets of VBT in order to create new streams of revenue.”
“Van Buren Township is more than a place that simply embodies the life-enriching amenities that bring great pleasure to the lives of its residents and visitors. VBT is a diverse community ready to reinvent itself as a progressive, well-governed place to live, work, and play. This community by all measures is a work in progress that finds itself at a crossroads, where the need for a well-qualified governing board can no longer be denied.
“As a community, we can and must seize the time and elect quality leadership or continue on a path that is certain to lead us to financial disparity and decline. My goal is to become a valued member of our governing board as a trustee. Aided by your much-needed input and support, I know we can accomplish great things together in our community,” Woodford said.
“Throughout my life I have been totally committed to public service. I served for four years in the United States Navy during the Viet Nam War while holding a Top Secret Clearance. My first job after being honorably discharged from the Navy was with the Dial Financial Corporation where I served for two years as a Credit Manager and reached the level of Assistant Branch Manager.
“I then began on my career path in law enforcement with the Detroit Police Department which spanned over 35 years. I retired from the DPD after attaining the rank of Lieutenant and serving as the Commanding Officer of several high-visibility units. Also during my tenure with DPD I was tasked with the responsibility of creating a unit to investigate all police shootings both fatal and nonfatal from both a criminal and administrative perspective. In order to successfully accomplish my goal, I developed a real good understanding and practical working knowledge of managing by objectives, creating and championing actions plans, and employing an effective process to find and implement best practices. This enabled me to author, publish, and gain approval for my standard operating procedures and protocols thereby making my newly created unit fully operational as the ‘Force Investigation Unit.’
“After retiring from DPD I then served as a Special Agent holding a Top Secret Clearance with the Federal Investigative Services Division where I conducted background investigations on individuals seeking federal positions that involved national security and/or public trust.”
He said he has always adhered to three guiding principles throughout his career in public service: Humility, Ability, Integrity.
“If elected to the position of Trustee, I will be in a position to definitely know what the main priorities are and where we are in terms of dealing with them. According to the strategic plan developed by SEMCOG in cooperation with the VBT Board of Trustees in May of 2014, the Visteon projected bond shortfall is at the top of the list as it should be until it is successfully resolved.
“Because this is a potential knockout punch, we have to deal with it by employing an aggressive strategy that leaves no stone unturned in our attempt to minimize our financial obligation as a township. Due diligence should become the mantra for the VBT Board of Trustees because the very lack of it is the shovel that was used to dig the hole we currently find ourselves in.”
The Independent sent out questionnaires to candidates for Van Buren Township elective offices so they could tell their stories in advance of the Aug. 2 Primary Election. All 12 are Democrats. No slates have been announced. The candidates submitted their information and this is what they said.