November 21, 2012 - Chris Barnett is excited and optimistic about being the new Orion Township Supervisor.
Barnett, who has been sitting on Orion's Planning Committee, was sworn in on Nov. 20. He said Orion's best days are still to come, and he points to the increase in development opportunities — residential, commercial, and industrial as evidence of the township's upward swing.
These developments will fix a lot of problems in Orion, Barnett believes. Not only will extra business and residents increase tax revenue, but families will also bring students who bring additional state funding for the Lake Orion School District.
As Orion Township looks at its third supervisor in less than 18 months, Barnett wants to assure citizens he's in this for the long haul. Whereas past township executives have left mid-term for greener pastures, Barnett said his newest positions isn't a stepping stone.
"This is my home, and this is where I plan on staying forever," Barnett promised.
Since his August primary victory, Barnett has been meeting with community leaders to learn more about how the township functions. The last two months have been like "a non-paying part-time job for me."
He said his to-do list is getting "longer by the day," and at the top of that list is promoting Orion to the rest of the world. To that end, a new website is in the works, as is a promotional video with ONTV to help market Orion Twp.
Marketing Orion will be aided by his strong relationships with the surrounding communities. He is familiar with the mayor in Rochester Hills, and has established a good working rapport with the incoming Independence Twp supervisor, Pat Kittle.
"I am all about collaboration and not reinventing the wheel. And when it makes sense to work with other communities, we're going to absolutely do that."
Barnett wants to work with all the different groups in the Township, and said the youth haven't been engaged as he would like them to be. To that end, updating the Parks and Recreation Master Plan is high on Barnett's list of goals. Included in that updated Master Plan is a potential skate park.
The idea of a skate park was introduced by Lake Orion High School student Logan Kaiser and Barnett said he's generally in favor of the idea. "I'm open to it."
"I think it's a cool idea and I give Logan Kaiser a ton of credit. I signed his petition. but I want to make sure we put it in the right spot. Part of that process is getting input from all the stakeholders and finding the right place to put a skate park. I'm in favor of it, but we might need to slow down and make sure we don't put the cart before the horse.
Many wonder how Barnett is going to lead the Township. It's not going to be a good-old-boy network picking winners and loser, Barnett assures. "As a matter of fact I've done a pretty good job of offending most of the members of the 'good-old-boy network' in Orion," Barnett said.
Overall, he's humbled to have been chosen by the voters for the supervisor's role, and his excitement is contagious. "I'm like a little kid in a candy store with the opportunity that's before me to better the community," he said.
Rather than compromise his integrity, Barnett plans on employing his strength of bringing people together for the greater good, regardless of their political persuasion. He promised a voice to those outside his political party, convinced that Republicans can stand to learn from the results of the last election.
"We can either bury our heads in the sand and think we've got all the right ideas, or we can be more receptive and be more inclusive of other groups—and that's the way I'm wired."
He is proud of his home and the people of Orion Twp who can rally together for common cause. He reiterates his motive for seeking public office. "I'm not doing this for any other reason except than I love the community."