Local Historian Makes a Run at Township Government
Maureen Thalmann is seeking a seat as Oakland Township Trustee in the upcoming elections.
As a historian, Oakland Township resident Maureen Thalmann has a knack for researching, which is something she thinks will come in handy if she is elected as an Oakland Township Trustee.
Her name will be on the ballot for the Aug. 7 primary election.
Researching, she said, is imperative to making informed decisions. She noted she is swift with many search engines, and it is common practice for her to dig deep on important issues.
“I’m very good at research and I’ve found sometimes when listening to the trustees that they were relying on the information given to them by experts, frequently experts with an agenda, moreso than doing their own work,” Thalmann said. “That’s from what I could tell from looking at it from the outside.”
Likewise, she said that she doesn’t have a problem speaking her mind.
“Especially if I do the research and know the facts, I know I wouldn’t vote on an emotional level,” she said.
Historically and politically versed
Thalmann has lived in Oakland Township for 24 years and has served in a variety of capacities, mostly historically and politically related. She has worked for the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm and Oakland University’s Meadow Brook Hall, and has been a member of the Oakland Township Historical Society and helped out with the Historic District Commission.
On the political front she has worked as a republican precinct delegate for years and served as state Rep. Tom McMillin’s district coordinator.
“I would attend meetings, take notes and help with getting residents’ concerns brought to the attention of the Lansing office,” she said.
Currently Thalmann is still voluntarily helping McMillin and working as a branch office administrator for Edward Jones. She also is an avid writer and is currently working on a book about Bertha Van Hoosen. Thalmann enjoys public speaking and has discussed her historical findings at many events locally.
For the past couple of years Thalmann has attended as many township meetings as possible. She became involved after reading an article in a local newspaper about an agenda item that was being discussed. After learning about other meeting items that she thought should be handled differently, she decided to became more active in meetings and can commonly be found taking notes.
“In a lot of cases I don’t think that the residents are being listened to,” Thalmann said, using the removal of the Paint Creek Dam as an example.
In January she decided she would take matters into her own hands and decided to run for a seat on the Oakland Township Board of Trustees.
Some changes she would like to see
Thalmann, if elected as trustee, said that she would like to put the government access channel in the township to use. She noted that until she brought up the subject at a board of trustees meeting, the channel was not used for anything, simply static. Now, she noted, power point like presentations will stream on the channel, but she thinks that there are better ways to use the channel.
“I would love if the meetings were videotaped … More people would be able to see it. I know young mothers raising kids can’t get to meetings, and some people are tired after a long commute and can’t go watch a long meeting,” Thalmann said.
She noted that videotaping the meetings is important because transparency is key and the summary and minutes of the meetings do not always portray the ‘whole flavor’ of what happened.
Similarly, Thalmann would like to see budgets and all related information posted on the township’s website.
Private property rights and spending grant money are also concerns that Thalmann has. If a project or ordinance will have a large impact on property owners, she believes their opinion should largely be taken into account when looking at approving a project. As for grant money, she said she thinks that some of the projects that have been won over with grant money have not been necessary. And, seeing as those projects typically relay on a township match of funds, should be looked at more closely in the future.
“I want people to be involved — I would be very happy if everyone voted for me — but more than anything I want them to know what’s going on in their community and hope to help them do that through transparency,” Thalmann said. “I hope to help them discover what’s going on in the community, what’s happening in meetings, how their money is being spent.”