Fraser Council candidates seek to bring stability to local government – Macomb Daily


A name familiar to Fraser voters will not appear on the ballot, but is vying for city council in Tuesday’s election.

Outgoing board member Michael Lesich was not initially going to stand for re-election, but changed his mind after the filing process closed. He presents himself as a written candidate.

The official candidates whose names will appear on the ballot include past board members Suzanne Kalka and David Winowiecki, as well as political newcomers Patrick O’Dell and Dana Sutherland.

One of the main challenges facing city leaders will be bringing stability to City Hall. Over the past year, the administration has seen the departure of its Director General, Deputy Director General and Acting Director of Public Security.

Candidates were asked to describe their goals and challenges, as well as discuss the departure of senior officials. Here are their responses:

Suzanne Kalka

Background: Kalka, 48, is a licensed Michigan lawyer who has not suffered any suspension, revocation or other disciplinary action. She received a BA from Madonna University and a JD from Michigan State University College of Law,

She is a member of the board of directors of the Michigan Association for Justice.

Suzanne Kalka

Objectives / Challenges: I plan to remain objective in Fraser’s overall prosperity. I will not give up on making the tough decisions necessary to protect Fraser. My goals include: Continued use of our HR firm to improve morale and administrative accountability; exploring a new narcotics service for public safety; creation of a road improvement plan; revitalize the Downtown Development Authority; establish relationships with commercial / industrial companies; expansion of the recreation department; the opening of the Senior Center; and to ensure continued transparency and priority spending, because the biggest challenges we continue to be our budget deficits and legacy costs.

Employees: It was time for a complete administrative overhaul. Many of these changes came as a collective council decision to improve transparency, accountability and spending, due to our budget deficits. It had to be done to change the culture of excess in administration. I have no doubt that we will continue to find and retain good employees. We have the right people in the right place, with a few new hires that just didn’t work out. Morale is high and these people understand their role and Fraser’s budget constraints.

We hired an independent human resources company to help us with this process. This has been an invaluable investment in the future of our city in many ways: for example, we now have uniform job postings, instead of separate contracts, which previously favored employees and not the city. Our HR department also has a multitude of resources to help us find better talent. We managed to find an incredibly talented new City Manager, DPW Superintendent and City Clerk, all with advanced levels of experience. We are also on track to open the Senior Center with limited activities in the coming weeks. We have since also eliminated the overtime / comp payment. of our department heads, with the exception of DPW. Our human resources department has now standardized the hiring process, with several additional policies and procedures that will improve morale and protect the city from future lawsuits. We recently updated the employee handbook. It had not been updated since 2008. We have also implemented uniform training and orientation for new employees in accordance with state and federal employment regulations.

Regarding the recent retirement of our Interim Director, we discussed the offer of the current Interim Director position in August 2020, during the board meeting. He said he couldn’t stand it, because it would require leaving the union. We then brought forward a motion to appoint a permanent director of public safety and it was determined that we must follow Public Law 78, which requires testing and promotion within the Fraser Department of Public Safety.

However, anyone offering this position will still have to resign their position and leave the union. We followed this protocol, but our former interim manager simply chose to retire before the test results were certified. The reason the Director of Public Safety is not a union position is that it would raise a serious conflict of interest, especially when trying to implement new policies and procedures and engage in negotiations. contractual and collective in good faith. I want the best for our public safety department, given our budgetary problems. It has always been my number one priority in this city. Having the proper liaison and independent leader of that department is important in promoting good morale and longevity within the department.

Michel lesich

Background: Lesich, 60, is a former small business owner and semi-retired municipal finance consultant working with other communities. He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Oakland University.

Lesich is running for his third term on the board.

Goals / Challenges: My goals continue to stabilize the city’s long-term financial situation, while maintaining a high level of service.

Michel lesich

Public safety is our number one priority. We will continue to maintain a high level of service to the community, ensuring that the ministry is properly staffed and equipped, and that the public can be assured of having the service they expect when they need it. Not needed anymore.

In 2020, we completed major infrastructure projects, including new water lines on the 14 Mile and Utica roads, and the Freuhauf road project. Many challenges remain to be overcome, such as the maintenance and improvement of our roads, our water and sewer systems, and essential repairs to the streets of our industrial park.

Partnering with the county, state, or federal government wherever possible to share the costs is essential to maximizing our city’s money.

It is also important to restore other services like our Seniors Activity Center, Seniors and Recreation programs that were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. If we budget for these services and force people to pay for them, the city should provide them. Planning a plan is not a plan.

Employees: Employee retention is a challenge that all businesses, including cities, are currently facing. Finding qualified candidates who wish to change jobs has been a challenge. Competition for the right people in the municipal arena is high.

In the case of Fraser, we have seen significant turnover in administrative staff due to retirement, starting a business, different opportunities, other reasons, and in some cases involuntary separation from the city. .

The recent hiring of City Manager Elaine Leven and City Clerk Cynthia Greenia is a solid foundation for the long-term rebuilding of the City Hall team with a renewed sense of purpose and service to the community. customer base.

Patrick O’Dell

Background: O’Dell, 48, is employed as a personal property tax collector for the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office and is serving his first political term. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration.

Objectives / challenges: My immediate objectives would be to open our closed center for the elderly and to re-establish our parks and recreation by hiring a full-time director. Establishing long term financial stability and long term budgeting would be my top priorities for the city. I would also like to ask for more grants for our city on higher capital expenditure. Leveraging our tax dollars to meet our long-term capital needs.

Patrick O’Dell

Employees: I am very concerned about the turnover of virtually all managers over a period of approximately one year. We replaced experienced managers / interim managers with less experienced managers with an average salary over 30% higher than their predecessors. The city has hired a hybrid position of Deputy City Manager / CFO / IT Manager / Parks and Recreation Manager. He burned out in six months and quit because no one can do four jobs well. It was a very stupid idea that the incumbents of the city council and the city’s human resources cabinet were behind and supported. We cannot afford to make such crazy decisions in the future and need to make hiring more realistic and sensible. I have the impression that with all this turnover, the employees of the city do not feel valued by the majority of this current council.

Dana sutherland

Background: Sutherland, 41, is employed as a compliance officer. She received a BS in Human Resources and Society from Michigan State University and an MS in Human Resources Administration from Central Michigan University.

Dana sutherland

Objectives / Challenges: The objective is to attract new businesses to Fraser while increasing the volume of existing businesses. I want to make sure that as a council we make financially sound decisions that bring our city to life. This includes the restoration of services and equipment removed during Covid.

Employees: I am extremely concerned about the turnover at the town hall. I think it’s important to remember that city hall employees are important members of our community. We want them to be successful, efficient, engaged and satisfied with their work as well as their work environment. Based on my observations alone, it seems these departures weren’t always about timing but also about not being set up for success. Development and commitment are a continuous journey. Whether you are hiring someone to do one job or multiple jobs, you should continually check to make sure the process is working as intended.

David Winowiecki

Background: Winowiecki, 61, is a director of a facility / property management company. He is running for his second term on the board after being elected in 2017.

Objectives / challenges: revitalize the Downtown Development Authority, continue to stabilize and strengthen our public security service, expand our relations with our commercial and industrial base.

David Winowiecki

Going forward, I think our biggest challenge will be to continue to attract more businesses and industries to the city. In addition, we must continue to seek and implement ways to generate more income and reduce the tax burden on our residents.

Employees: Yes, there have been several changes in administration over the past year, however, we continue to focus on getting the right people in the right seats and giving them the tools they need so that we can continue to move the workforce. city ​​towards long-term sustainability.

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