Eight up for supervisor appointment
July 27, 2011 - Interviews complete, Springfield Township Board meets this week to appoint a new board supervisor.
The township board interviewed candidates Marc J. Cooper, former trustee; Virginia Fischbach; Roger Lamont, township trustee; William Leddy, planning commissioner; George Mansour, developer; Collin Walls, former supervisor of 32 years; Neil Willson, planning commissioner; and Paul Zelenak, Lake Orion village manager, July 19 and 25.
Collin Walls offers 32 years of experience doing the job.
"Three weeks ago, the thought of sitting here never crossed my mind. Things change," Walls said. "I'm seriously considering 2012 – I like to do something fulfilling, but I'm not quite prepared to offer a guarantee."
His vision is to continue developing the township slowly and steadily while protecting its natural and rural character, in the face of declining revenue. He would recruit volunteers and seek to share services with neighboring townships.
"Think cooperatively and regionally – that's the new economic reality and political reality," he said. "We must learn to work together with neighbors to our mutual benefit."
Bill Leddy, member of Springfield Township Planning Commission who ran for supervisor in 2008, has 42 years experience teaching and nine years as a realtor.
His vision includes limited development, while preserving the township's natural beauty and rural character.
"I'd develop the Dixie Highway corridor – make it a plus, not an eyesore," Leddy said.
He would also work to give downtown a sense of place, and on hiking and walking trails through the township.
George Mansour, developer, said he wants the community to grow and thrive, while maintaining its neighborhood atmosphere.
He said he faces a "vast learning curve" on budget and other supervisor duties, but his experience working with government agencies at local, county, and state levels would help.
"My background would offer a position of strength when development issues come up," Mansour said. "I don't take no for an answer – there's always a way ."
As a businessman, he also offers a fresh look at the township.
The township should look for ways to create income, including hosting sporting and community events, and turning forclosed homes into rental properties, he said.
Paul Zelenak offers 20 years of experience in municipal government.
"I have a well-rounded education and experience," Zelenak said. "This is an opportunity to serve the community where I live."
He has municipal manager experience with Garden City, Bloomfield Hills, and Lake Orion, where he has been village manager for the past four years.
He would preserve the township's open space, history, and rural character, and work to develop Dixie Highway through public and private partnerships.
"My goal would be to improve residents' identification as Springfield Township residents, to be proud of who we are," he said.
For Marc Cooper, former township trustee, goals would include maintaining police and fire services, maintaining master plan, and supporting township parks.
"We have some of the most rural area you can have, and a business section divided very nicely by master plan," Cooper said. "We have something unique here."
Davisburg Road businesses should be supported, including those in the north part of the township need, he said.
"Dixie Corridor should not stop at Davisburg Road," he said. "We have vacant businesses up there. We should find a way to help them. I don't have the answers. It's something we should look at."
Virginia Fischbach brings more than 20 years supervisory experience in private industry, including managing a $1 billion engineering budget at Chrysler.
"Every year, we came in under budget," Fischbach said. "I did that by collaborating with all departments."
Her vision is to maintain the township's unique rural, small town flavor by controlling, and managing growth.
"I really love the community," she said. "It's time to give back a little. I have some time so that's what I'd like to do."
Roger Lamont, current trustee, brings his experiences with Springfield Township and in the private sector.
"My experience in my private job and with the township prepared me to be supervisor," Lamont said.
He served on Springfield Township's planning commission and zoning board of appeals, as well as the board of trustees.
"My vision is to preserve and maintain Springfield Township's natural resources and beauty, and promote improvement," he said.
Goals include review of all service levels to improve service while maintaining or reducing cost, more web site content, including meetings, weekly office hours with residents, more cable information, work with Davisburg businesses, and pathways.
Neil Willson, retired after 30 years with Chrysler, brings his business experience as well as community experience with the township Planning Commission.
His management style invites input and participation by staff, he said.
"The natural beauty of the township is simply irreplaceble," he said. "As supervisor, I'd fight along with you to preserve it."
With Chrysler, he prepared and managed $1 billion budgets, met deadlines, wrote 10-year corporate business plans, managed work groups, and moderated groups of all sizes. Goals include finding new, unconventional sources of revenue, prepare for the next wave of development when it arrives, and develop firm plans for Dixie corridor improvements and the former lumberyard property on Andersonville Road, he said.
Springfield Township Board meets Thursday, July 28, at 7 p.m. at Springfield Township Offices, 12000 Davisburg Road.
"Hopefully that night we will make a recommendation," said Trustee Dave Hopper. "This will be a tough decision."
The Township Board has a deadline of Aug. 11 to appoint a new supervisor or the state will call for a special election. The interim supervisor will serve out the term, which will be up for a vote in next year's regular election.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.