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Five contenders battle for trustee positions

Mike Flood Jr. (click for larger version)
July 25, 2012 - Orion Township will have five contenders battle for the four available trustee spots: Mike Flood Jr., Neal Porter, John Steimel, Donni Steele, and write-in candidate Mike Toth.

Mike Flood Jr., 64, said he is running in order to "serve and represent the best interest of all Orion residents."

"Since the last election in 2008, our economic recovery has suffered resulting in depreciated home values, home foreclosures, vacated businesses, local school district trying to balance their budget and families struggling to make ends meet. With this in mind, I wish to continue to serve as your township Trustee," he said. "My goal is to protect your hard earned taxpayer dollars while continuing to provide the excellent services and amenities that Orion Township residents and businesses have come to expect and deserve."

As for the priorities of the township Flood said the most critical is the voter approval of the three safety millages, which appear on the ballot.

"One is pertaining to the fire department and the two are for the police contract with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office," he said. "The passage of all three millage requests is vital to continue to protect the health, safety and welfare of our community."

Other priorities he said include maintaining a balanced budget by offsetting expenditures and infrastructure.

"The township must continue to generate a return on its recent capital investment projects, the newly opened Orion Community Center and Park & Rec. facilities, as well as continue the forward thinking on planning and zoning and the Baldwin Road Widening Project," he added.

Why should people elect him? Flood said he's taken his responsibilities seriously to represent the best interests of all residents since being appointed trustee after former Trustee JoAnn Van Tassel was appointed supervisor in 2011.

"Like so many Orion families, I'm also a life-long resident of our great community. I also have experienced the growth and changes of the Orion area i.e., residential, business and government entities," he said. "Having served on the Board of Trustees for the past year, I have gained valuable experience towards the responsibilities and duties required to serve as a Trustee."

Besides being a lifelong Dragon from Kindergarten through high school graduation, Flood worked at General Motors Truck in Pontiac for 40 years and retired from skilled trades. He attended Oakland Community College Technology Campus in Auburn Hills where he completed two separate journeyman trades status and professional licenses. He currently possesses a City of Detroit Third Class Engineers License. He also received a special diploma in Basic Management Training Program from Oakland University sponsored by GMC Truck and Coach Division. Of all his accomplishments, Flood said he is most proud of his family and "their civic contribution to our great community."

"My wife Lillian and I just recently celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary," he said. "We have a daughter, Kristen Trayner, and two lovely grandchildren, Austin McGee and Shea Trayner whom all reside in Orion."

Incumbent Neal Porter, 71, said he's running because it's his turn "to give back to the community that has done so much" for him and his family.

Neal Porter (click for larger version)
For Porter the top three priorities facing the township are the police millage, low property assessments and long term effects of landfills.

Porter graduated from Pontiac Northern High School, as well as from General Motors Institute. His education has been in engineering and industrial management.

"I worked for General Motors for 28 years in various capacities from die maker to designer," added Porter. "Since my retirement from General Motors I have been involved in residential and commercial developments and around Orion Township."

He also owns a business in Orion Township, which manufactures and markets auto parts. He and his wife have been residents for over 40 years and raised their two children Orion. Porter believes his diversified background is what makes him a good candidate for trustee.

"From union organizer to developer," said Porter. "I have the skills needed to develop and create a prosperous community."

John Steimel (click for larger version)
Incumbent John Steimel, 51, is running again because he says "There is a struggle going on in our township between those who have held power for some time and some new, fresh thinking individuals."

"It is important for our future to embrace this breath of fresh air while not forgetting the painful lessons of the past," he said. "I am confident that my past experience and open-minded attitude can be a valuable asset in bridging these two eras in our history."

As for priorities of the township, Steimel said all leadership needs in the township must do a much better job to be respectful, inclusive and transparent.

"This is tantamount to our future," he said.

Though the township has survived some challenging times, stabilizing finances and controlling spending must always be a high priority in his mind.

"We must treat every tax dollar as if it comes out of our own pocket," added Steimel.

Another priority said Steimel is to "embrace all forms of communication."

"Developing meaningful metrics will go a long way to bring township activities into the light, enhance confidence and allow input from many untapped resources," he said.

His background in engineering and management allows him to bring a very balanced perspective board of trustees, according to Steimel.

"Budgets, cash flow, human resources, customer satisfaction, project management, long and short-term planning and asset management are not foreign terms to me and ingrained into my deliberations," he added. "I am more interested in applying logical decision-making which does not equate to giving everyone everything they want then in enriching my friends or building monuments to my own greatness. Should we ask anything less of a leader?"

He has been married to his wife for 29 years who he said is a "simply spectacular person." He met her while earning his degree in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

"We were able to take advantage of the many assets in our community to raise two children who are now building their own lives," Steimel said.

He has been designing systems to strengthen American manufacturing for almost thirty years and is currently employed at FANUC Robotics America Corporation in Rochester Hills.

"I have had the honor of giving back to this community through a multitude of committees, boards and activities including serving on the Planning Commission since 1999 and being a trustee since 2004."

Donni Steele, 51 is running for trustee, because she "wants to be an advocate for the community of Orion." Being in a leadership position she said would allow her to direct the future, expansion and growth of the community.

Donni Steele (click for larger version)
"I wanted to be apart of the positive change and new direction Matt Gibbs (our previous Supervisor) was leading our community," she said. "However, since he left, this growth and change has come to a halt and now I feel it's my duty to try and help stimulate this momentum again."

As for the priorities of the township Steele said business in Orion needs to prosper.

"This would bring more people to our community and increase revenues," she said. "More revenues would, at a minimum, allow the Township to continue our current level of services and eventually provide better services to our citizens."

She also said they need to consider collaboration and consolidation at all levels of community services to decrease expenditure, as well as monitor all expenditures and activities.

"Take a conservative approach," added Steele. "Look for systems to help streamline ways of doing business."

Having a business background, Steele believes the township should be run like a business, not a government.

"We need to create a vision of what we want Orion Township to look and feel like; then we must set goals and objectives to obtain this vision; take daily steps towards accomplishing these goals and objectives; and eventually realize our vision," she said. "I believe in the completion of projects with action and momentum verses endless discussion and committee meetings."

Steele has been married to her high school sweetheart Philip for over 20 years and together has two boys, Max, 12, and Colton, 9. She received her real estate license at age 18 and started working for her parents business, Partridge and Associates in Lake Orion, once

After graduating from Western Michigan University she continued her real estate career with Coldwell Banker Shooltz as an active salesperson, managing Broker and part owner of the company for 15 years. In 2007 Donni sold her interest in the company, took her license home and became a part time realtor and full time mom.

"I remain active with my children's schools, their activities, the PTO and Orion Township Safety Path Committee," she said. "With the combination of a business background, a young family, active involvement in the schools and community, I believe I'm a great candidate for Orion Township Trustee."

After hearing only four people were running unopposed for the trustee position, Village resident Mike Toth, 31, decided to make it a little more interesting by becoming a write-in candidate.

"I feel my experience on the Village Council and my being on the budget committee will be an asset to the Township. I believe my fresh outlook will help the Township to look at things from a different perspective and allow for continued progress," he said. "I want people to have the choice to vote for an experienced person who will stand by what he believes."

Mike Toth (click for larger version)
The first and most glaring issue facing the township, according to Toth is finances.

"While the Township has an ample fund balance, the outlook for the national economy is still bleak and looking worse every day," he added. "I feel that preparing for the worst will allow the Township to rebound faster than surrounding communities and thus prosper in the long term."

He also thinks some of the some of the "floundering issues that exist" are an issue, such as The Orion Center, the water tower, the Eagle Valley expansion.

"Many of these projects have been lingering and need to be resolved," he said.

Last, he believes there is a need for the township to plan the community for the future.

"Roads, intersections, neighborhoods, and businesses all need to be organized and planned in a manner that allows for smooth growth while allowing the residents to live peacefully," said Toth.

His seven years on the village council Toth believes, has given him enough experience to walk onto the board "ready to work." He said speaking about issues is necessary in order to solve problems, as well as allowing the public to have the same information the officials have. While on the village council, Toth said he pushed for greater transparency.

"I have a balanced look at issues, love doing research and not taking people's word for the truth but instead finding the truth out for myself. I enjoy being innovative and seeing projects through to the end," he added. "My record on the Village Council speaks for itself. I am always open and willing to discuss an issue."

Toth has been married to his wife, who is a high school teacher, for almost 10 years and the couple has two sons.

"I am active in my sons' school, active at my wife's school, active in community organizations, active in my church, and working to grow my small business," he said. "I love helping other people and would love the opportunity to bring an unbiased view and innovative solutions to Orion Township."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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