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Village election: 2 candidates, 2 seats

September 07, 2011 - By C.J. Carnacchio

Leader Editor

For Tony Albensi and Kevin Stephison, next week's Oxford Village election is largely a formality.

The two men are running for two four-year council seats with no other names on the ballot and no declared write-in candidates to offer competition.

Stephison is the newcomer to the council while Albensi is the incumbent, elected in September 2007.

Stephison will take Teri Stiles' seat on the council. Stiles resigned from council Aug. 23 because she moved to Addison Township.

Stiles had previously announced she wouldn't seek re-election, which left an opening that piqued Stephison's interest.

"I thought it was time that some fresh blood was added to the council," said Stephison, who currently serves as chairman of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority board. "The council has made great strides in the last few years. It's just kind of a chance for me to help continue moving Oxford down the right path to growing into the potential that I believe it has."

Stephison is no stranger to village politics. He was appointed to the DDA in July 2006, resigned in December 2007 and was reappointed to the board last year. He actually lives within the DDA district's boundaries.

As the business manager for Huntoon Funeral Home, where he's worked for nearly 18 years, Stephison's looking forward to "keeping tabs on the fiscal aspects" of village government.

He also wishes to "bridge the gap between the DDA, the village council and the township" and "help us function as one entity rather than three disparate entities that sometimes seem to be working against each other."

"I've been a (village) resident now for 12 years," Stephsion said. "I've seen that when they work together, it's great (and) when they don't, it becomes very dysfunctional.

"Hopefully, we can just move things forward and get everybody on the same page."

Stephison believes his background in both the business world and the funeral business will help him accomplish these goals.

He indicated that working in the funeral business will be helpful because he has experience "dealing with circumstances that are not always the best."

"You do learn certain coping skills and methods," Stephison said.

Stephison noted he's "inquisitive by nature," so he doesn't plan on being shy about asking questions while serving on council.

On a personal note, Stephison loves living in the village.

"I have to admit I do enjoy being able to do just about anything I want downtown," he said. "It reminds me at times of when I spent my time in England – being able to do pretty much everything right there in the village and venturing out when you want to, not because you have to."

Albensi indicated he's looking forward to serving another term on council.

"I enjoyed the first term so much and feel like there's still some passion in me to do more," he said. "I really care about the community."

Looking back over his first term, Albensi "proudest" of the fact council was able to cut the village tax rate by 1 mill back in 2009. That was something he lobbied hard for at many meetings.

"It's unfortunate that council decided last year to raise it (by a half-mill), he noted.

Albensi cast the lone dissenting vote against that tax increase.

Looking toward his second term, Albensi wishes to continue making fiscal responsibility and restraint top priorities.

His goals are "to keep that budget in line" and look for "ways we can cut that millage rate even more without hurting the services."

When asked what he enjoys most about living in the village, Albensi replied, "The people and the downtown."

"I love being able to walk downtown for dinner, concerts (and) some of the other events that we have," he said. "And the people have been great."

Albensi's lived in the village since September 2005 and is employed with RGIS in Auburn Hills.

Even though Albensi realizes his re-election is basically a foregone conclusion, he still hopes people will get out and exercise their democratic rights at the polls.

"I'm trying to encourage people to vote," he said. "I'm hoping that we get a lot of people out there . . . I know the council seats aren't contested, but maybe this land sale vote (see Page 3) will get some people out. I really just want to see a large turnout."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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