At an Orion Township Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday night at four candidates were interviewed for the soon-to-be vacant interim trustee position, which would end in November.
The board hopes to appoint an interim trustee at Monday's board meeting to fill . Crane recently submitted a letter of resignation after purchasing a house in Rochester Hills. His last meeting as trustee will be Monday.
Candidates interviewed Wednesday included Orion Township residents Heather Muzzy, D-Arcy Gonzales, and Dale Romeo. moderated the interview session, asking each candidate a total of five questions, also allowing them each to give an opening and closing statement. Steele, who works in the real estate industry, is the only candidate that is also running for a four-year term as trustee on the .
"I would like to get started and I think this seven months of vacancy would be a good time for me to get started and learn the position and hit the ground running," Steele said.
Gonzales, who has a background in municipal banking, noted he is interested in helping the community, but did not wish to commit to a four-year term. Likewise, Muzzy noted that because of family priorities running for a four-year term as trustee, or something of similar nature, is in the cards for the future, but not right now. Romeo, who talked of his background in criminal justice, noted he stepped up just to help out and that he has no political aspirations.
Here are two of the key questions Steimel asked candidates Wednesday night:
How long have you lived in Orion Township and what has been your community involvement?
Steele: Actually I lived on and off in Orion because I’ve lived in Oxford, I’ve lived in Addison, I’ve lived in Lapeer, I’ve lived in the Village of Oxford and back into Orion, so I would have to say that my last stint in Lake Orion has been six years ... and then I went to Lake Orion schools but we actually lived in Addison. However my community involvement has been I’ve been on the Safety Path Committee, I have been a part of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), I have volunteered for various activities at the school, I have been on the homeowners association, I have been involved in small things like picking up garbage along the highways … I would have to say that those are my big three recently the PTO, the schools and the Safety Path.
Muzzy: I’ve been in Orion itself for 14 years and I’ve been involved in a variety of volunteer activities over the years. And directly here in the township I’ve been on the Safety Path Committee and the Environmental Resources Committee, both for four years, and watched what was going on in the community well before that. I also have done things with the schools and at the church but the participation here within the township is very relevant. And I’ve also participated in the committees on the level of doing presentations and reaching out to neighboring communities at an extensive level that really brings me a greater awareness of what is and isn’t happening in Orion and that’s what I would like to bring to the table.
Gonzales: I’ve been a resident of Orion Township for 32 years. My involvement is ... I’ve sat on the school board for an eight year period that I was elected, two four year terms; I’ve also sat on the Lake Orion Education Foundation which gives supplemental grants to teachers throughout the Lake Orion Schools. While I was on that board we revitalized that in 2005 and I sat on that board as treasurer and a trustee on that. Years ago I was involved in the Orion/Oxford Soccer League as our kids were growing up, I was treasurer of that and also a coach. And I’m past treasurer of the Greater Oakland Republican Club here in Orion Township.
Romeo: I’ve been a resident for 19 years. As a police officer assigned to Oakland, Orion, Addison and Oakland Township I’ve participated in a lot of community events such as parades and various events involving citizens and the community. On the private side I was a member of a children’s charity, The Rainbow Connection, founded by our County Executive Brooks Patterson where I served for over 10 years as a volunteer, president and vice president of the board of directors. We initiated over a period of 10 years, 10 charitable events at raising funds for children’s needs. I’m a member of ... I worked ... to reinforce protection of natural beauty roadways throughout Orion Township by adding additional programs and additional state statutes to protect the trees and the flora and fauna from developer decimation, if you will. I currently am a supporter of the Lake Orion Christmas Parade which I attend readily every year for the fundraising events. I support the community businesses, I know a number of community people…
What do you see as the number one priority the township should address?
Romeo: Well at this time I think that the are significant priorities within this township. Having once again served in that capacity, I’m being very conscientious about the safety for all the citizens of this township, as well the business owners as well as those that commute through Orion Township. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in order to maintain our current levels. Obviously this comes down to taxes, this comes down to funding. If the decision by the voters is to not maintain the current level of staffing (by not approving the two millages that are being proposed) it will take a very tough look at how this is going to be restructured in order to meet the consistent calls that are coming in and the increase in demands for law enforcement services. As well as (the) fire millage I think is important because we need to have this public safety support. Without that support the township’s infrastructure could somewhat sag. It’s not only for the citizens but we’re responsible for those going through the community. I think that’s something that with my background, I could give very experienced insight into in structuring that and assisting the board and assisting the township in directing the proper resources where they’ll be the most effective. So I think that is a great priority to look at.
Gonzales: Yes, I would concur with Dale on that, that the police and fire millages, the two renewals and then the increase are very much needed. In addition to that I feel that with the constant cuts that are being done in Lansing that there’s budgetary issues that are going to be hitting, they’ve already hit, but they’re going to continue to hit the township and ... I think that it’s very important on our budget to look and see what we’ve got as income coming in and not go overboard with our expenses and I think that our current board has been working toward that. So those are the two issues would be the millages and then the budget.
Muzzy: My participation with the township business may sometimes be annoying but my intent has always been to be constructive and completely mindful of using our taxpayer dollars effectively. Yes I agree that the millage for ... the police and sheriff is an important need, and I see from our previous meetings that we’re already underway with taking care of that. The thing that comes to mind for me is ... the overall print and digital content for our township and that it’s seriously lagging. I have a regular habit because of my print background to pick up pieces and look at this and actually read it word for word … and I really care about our image and so that’s where I tend to have something to offer that’s different. When most people are selecting a community to live they want affordable housing and schools, but they also want nearby amenities and I believe that the real estate market is hopefully about to turn around, but we need to be prepared to compete with neighboring areas and showing off what Orion has to offer. I don’t think we’re going to have an economic development here unless we have some quality of life and the appearance that this is the place to live.
Steele: I think that we have to concentrate on businesses and bringing businesses to the community, which will also bring citizens to the community and that will bring revenues to our community; and then it helps us get past all the budgetary expenditures that we’re confronting between the police and the fire and possibly a deficit because of our property values have gone down so drastically over the last 10 years. So I think that we have to concentrate on revenues by bringing business, but I also think that we need to really concentrate on collaboration and consolidations of some of our services as well and then by that it trickles down to then we can decide how well we monitor the budget and spending.
For the complete recap of Wednesday's interview session watch it on Orion Neighborhood Television's website at www.orionneighborhoodtelevision.org.