October 23, 2013 - Five candidates are running for Clarkston City Council in the Nov. 5 election.
Former Clarkston Mayor Sharron Catallo is running unopposed for a one-year partial term. Incumbents Richard Bisio, Eric Haven, and Thomas Hunter, and challenger David Marsh are in the running for three, two-year seats on the council.
Richard Bisio said he wants to contribute to the continuing improvement of city government. The city's main focus should be on administering the basics of municipal government. He would focus on budgeting and taxes.
"I'm glad the city adopted the approach that I advocated for more than two years—looking at the budget and amending it before obligating the city for new expenses," he said. "In the past the city incurred significant expenses without budgeting for them. Going forward, I will support having a three-year budget so that the city can anticipate changes in revenue and expenses and plan for them in an orderly way."
As chair of the council's ordinance committee, he is also leading a project to codify and update them.
"The city's ordinances date back to 1915," Bisio said. "Although this is a tedious job, it is necessary so that the city has an up-to-date code of ordinances that will be fairly enforced rather than the current patchwork that is obsolete in many ways and not enforced in a number of cases."
Bisio has served on the council for almost two-and-a-half years.
"In that time I have participated actively in council meetings and in council committee work, working on budgeting as a member of the council's finance committee and chairing the council's ordinance committee, including its ordinance codification project. This experience with the operation of city government gives me a good foundation for continuing to work on the council. As a practicing attorney, I bring analytical skills and business experience to the council's work," said Bisio.
Eric Haven said he seeks to protect the rare small town jewel that is Clarkston by honoring its historic past and helping it prepare for the future.
"I have been a resident of Clarkston 40 years, raising my children here and now enjoying my grandchildren," he said. "In this next term our master plan for the city comes under review and I want to be part of a thoughtful and studied evaluation of where we are and propose changes that need to be made recognizing our rich history and the needs of our citizens in the future."
He works to be responsive to the community, listen respectfully to all citizen opinions and then take action, he said.
"Anyone who comes to our meetings knows the issues we address, in every case being careful to seek long term solutions," he said.
Haven said his long history and knowledge of the area makes him a good candidate to continue his work on city council.
"I served under Sharon Catallo at the time Clarkston moved to protect itself from becoming just a part of a larger entity, Independence Township, by becoming a city. Both at that time and in recent years I have realized the differences, commonalities and unique synergies between the two. In more recent years I have served wanting to help guide the city carefully through the precarious waters of the recession and recovery," said Haven.
He believes respecting other's opinions, leveraging their talents and balancing everything moves good decision making in a positive direction.
"I think I have the ability to listen carefully, sort out issues logically and glean useful solutions from the facts, not independently, but as part of a team," said Haven.
Thomas Hunter said his legal background and many years of experience in local government can be helpful to the City Council.
"As a long-term resident, 42 years, I am familiar with many of the problems that need to be dealt with by city council," he said.
Hunter said he believes his 33 years experience as a city attorney, as well as his experience serving in a private legal practice will be helpful to his work on the council.
"My years of experience dealing with local government functions and problems should be of assistance to the Council," said Hunter. "I like the city the way it is, but there is always room for improvement. More parking is needed adjacent to the business area, but how this can be accomplished is difficult to answer."
Hunter said he believes traffic congestion on Main Street in the late afternoons could probably be relieved to an extent by better timing of the traffic lights on Main Street.
"More traffic enforcement would be helpful," he said.
To improve the city, a means to provide parking enforcement and to deal with the vandalism problem in Depot Park should be sought, said Hunter.
"I would add that since I have been on the council, four plus years, it has acted responsibly in keeping expenditures within budget limits, and doing its best to see that the citizens get good value for their tax dollars," said Hunter.
David Marsh said he believes in getting involved and participating in the community he loves and plans on living in for the next 50 years.
"I have worked as director of operations for a local company," said Marsh. "I was also director of finance for Habitat for Humanity. More importantly, I am a tax paying resident and a home owner living in the city who cares about the future of this community."
Operationally, he would like to follow Oakland County's lead and put a 3-year budget in place as soon as possible, he said.
"Concerning community development, we need more retail business, more crosswalks, bike lanes, and better parking options," said Marsh.
"My wife and I follow Dave Ramsey's financial principles in our home," he said. "I believe I have the knowledge and experience to help keep the city's finances and budget in order."
Marsh said the city should work closely with Clarkston Chamber of Commerce to see what is being done correctly and to determine what needs to be improved.
"I bring wisdom and experience in finances and budgeting, and a passion to serve my community," said Marsh.
Running for a one-year term on Clarkston City Council, Sharron Catallo is a 33-year resident, with two years on the Clarkston Village council, five years as village council president, and 16 years as the mayor of the city of the village of Clarkston."
"Everything has at the very least room for improvement and fine tuning," said Catallo. "If I had to choose one thing to work on, I think better communication with city residents and businesses might be a good start."
Catallo said one of the ways she thinks communication could be improved is through a more welcoming and user friendly website with a reliable information stream.
"I have a solid interest in serving my community to make it the best place it can be for the people," she said. "I think anyone who has the time and interest should consider serving on a board or committee – then they can see the great effort that goes into running the village fairly well for all the residents and businesses."