50-Year Wayne County Resident
I was born in Dearborn in 1966 - so that makes me 50 this year! I attended Dearborn Public Schools and graduated from Dearborn High in 1984. My dad was a Manufacturer’s Representative and my mom was able to stay at home. My parents had a keen interest in politics and current events, and we had many an evening around the kitchen table talking about the day’s events. I moved out of Dearborn in 1997 to take the job as Mayor’s Deputy in Dearborn Heights. In 2006 my family and I moved to Plymouth Township - a community that we had visited many times for dinner and events at Kellogg Park. We fell in love with the community and understood the tremendous bond that exists between the City and Township. Our two communities must work together as partners and friends.
Married for 20 years
I met my wife, Catherine, as the result of a blind date that our moms set up for us at the Dearborn Inn in 1993. Our moms thought that we’d have a lot in common as we were both attorneys and were essentially nerds who they thought would probably never get married. Being six years older than me, Cathy was already a successful attorney while I was still starting out. Needless to say, we hit it off and a few years later I proposed to her at the old Cafe Bon Homme in the far away city of Plymouth. We never had any idea we’d actually be living here someday! Twenty years, two kids, two dogs, two minivans and 11 political campaigns later we’re still going strong. Thanks mom for arranging that blind date so many years ago - I definitely married up!
A Family to be Proud Of
Cathy and I are blessed to have two daughters, Kate and Claire. One of the reasons we moved to Plymouth Township was for our outstanding schools, and both of them attended Isbister Elementary, Pioneer Middle School, and Salem High. Kate graduated from Salem in 2015 and is attending Eastern Michigan University, while Claire is a Junior at Salem. I’m a firm believer that educational excellence begins at the kitchen table, with moms and dads who instill the values of hard work and education that our parents taught us. Our children have been able to thrive and succeed thanks to their hard work and the outstanding teachers and staff at the Plymouth-Canton Schools. As Supervisor, I will be a partner and advocate for our schools, building on my 7-year membership with the Plymouth-Canton Educational Excellence Foundation and my service on the PCCS Blue Ribbon Commission.
A Real University and Law School Education
My mom and dad were both World War II veterans who lived through the Great Depression. They instilled in me a hard work ethic and demanded educational excellence. I took their advice and received an honors degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and two law degrees from Wayne State Law School - the regular Juris Doctorate and a specialized Masters of Laws in Labor Law. I passed the Bar Exam on the first try.
My educational background could have gotten me a job almost anywhere in business, but I made a decision early on in life to work in the public sector, and tailored my education to fit that mission. I took the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference to me.
25 Years of Public Sector Experience
I started out of law school in 1991 working for a law firm that represented the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, and later joined another firm where I served as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Woodhaven and the City of Dearborn Heights. At only 27 years of age, I was one of the youngest city attorneys in Michigan, and attended city council, planning commission and zoning board meetings almost every night. I learned early on the best - and worst - ways to run a meeting and how to listen and respond to elected officials and the public alike.
In 1997 I was hired by the Mayor of Dearborn Heights to serve as her Deputy. Dearborn Heights in those days had a population of 57,000 and had an annual budget of $32 million. As deputy, I helped manage everything at city hall, from trash collection and lost dog calls to representing the city in our Detroit Water & Sewer issues in Federal Court.
I learned a lot about water and sewers - something I had not expected in law school. My time on environmental policy issues caught the attention of Robert Ficano - who had just been elected as Wayne County CEO. In 2002 I was asked, and accepted, the position of Director of the Wayne County Department of Environment, where I served for six and a half years. Unfortunately, as the county’s financial situation worsened many appointees who didn’t ‘play ball’ were shown the door, including me. While it’s tough to be unemployed, and I was, I could look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and rest assured that I acted with integrity and my reputation intact. You can’t put a price on that.
For most of 2009 and 2010 I worked as an attorney in Tim Cronin’s law office here in Plymouth, and taught a course in environmental policy at Wayne State while working for the WSU School of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an environmental consultant.
You may have first met me in 2010 when I ran for State Representative for the 20th House District. I’ve been re-elected each term since, and earned 64% of the vote in the 2014 general election. I’m honored by the strong support I’ve had from Plymouth Township residents and hope that I’ve earned the trust you’ve placed in me.
A Proven Track Record of Local and County Success
I’ve been in the public service for 25 years. The vast majority of that time I’ve worked in the executive branch of government, and six years in the State Legislature. In each job I’ve been asked to help turn around a governmental function in distress. I’ve met each challenge with determination and passion, putting my education and experience to work to get results. The skill sets I’ve gained and the experience I’ve earned make me uniquely qualified to be your next Supervisor.
With my specialized degree in Labor Law, I’ve served as the Chief Labor Negotiator for Dearborn Heights and Woodhaven, negotiating dozens of collective bargaining agreements and even writing a couple from scratch. I’ve handled probably a couple hundred grievances and dozens of labor arbitration cases. I’ve taken cases and won them before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission and submitted Amicus Briefs with the Michigan Supreme Court on labor law issues. We need a Supervisor who will be fair and firm with our employees; someone who won’t be a bully but will command respect, which is earned.
I helped write the book on environmental law in southeast Michigan since 1994. Federal Judge John Feikens swore me in the United States District Court in 1999, and I worked under his direction together with local governments to draft the Phase II Stormwater Permits for southeast Michigan in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. I helped draft the Watershed Alliance Act of 2005 - still the only state law for regional water cooperation in existence. I represented Dearborn Heights and later Wayne County in multi-billion-dollar litigation surrounding the Detroit Water & Sewer Department and the Downriver Sewer Systems since 1994. Plymouth Township used to be a leader in environmental protection and stewardship, but as in so many areas we have lost our way and don’t follow the environmental laws and regulations that we impose on new development. We deserve a Supervisor who knows the law and history of our region so we can protect and enhance our green spaces and water resources of our great community.
During my time as Wayne County Environment Director, I saved my customers more than $10 million dollars by reforming and providing greater efficiency at the County’s Downriver Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wyandotte. This wasn’t done by bullying my customers or employees, but by working on a comprehensive assessment and management plan, and putting that plan in action - working with unions, local governments and regulatory authorities throughout the process. I saved my local government customers millions of dollars each year and did it through cooperation and complete transparency. I was the only department in Wayne County government that had a surplus, and the treatment plant received EPA Gold Awards for environmental protection.
I also tried to tackle the longstanding problem of fooding in our Downriver Communities using the Michigan Drain Code. Again, through years of collaboration and communication with local governments and citizens my team was able to develop a $500 million flood mitigation plan which is still being used as a benchmark by the Army Corps of Engineers - and the largest planned drain project in Michigan history.
Your Voice In Lansing
When I ran for State Representative in 2010 I promised to hit the ground running, and I sure did. Michigan was a mess when we came in. On our first day in Lansing we were faced with budget deficits, unfunded liabilities and a job-killing tax system. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Snyder and our legislative team, we cut our state’s unemployment rate by nearly half, balanced our budget, paid down our debts and turned our state around. We went from being one of the least competitive states in the country to being one of the best to do business, create jobs and invest. We promised to save Michigan, and we delivered.
Oh, and we saved Detroit from bankruptcy.
The Michigan Turnaround didn’t happen by chance. I believe you hired me to be State Representative to make the tough but necessary decisions to move Michigan in the right direction. Those choices weren’t easy and they weren’t fun, but they were necessary to save our state. No one else running for Supervisor has this level of experience and determination, dealing with multi-billion dollar budgets, creating jobs and economic opportunity, and restoring
our state to fiscal sanity.
In Lansing, I had the honor of serving as Chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, where I partnered with Attorney General Bill Schuette to develop a comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking effort through legislation, training, funding and a long-term, sustainable effort to rid our state of this horrible crime.
As your State Representative, I never forgot where I came from or who got me there. That’s why I was committed to transparency and outreach, holding more than 400 coffees, library hours, town halls and other public meetings since 2011 - not to mention hundreds of one-on-one meetings, community gatherings, ribbon cuttings, door to door and tele-town halls. No other elected official at the state or county level can match that track record of accessibility and transparency.
You Need to Hire the Best
In August of 2016 we need to hire a professional with real education and experience to manage our great township. We’re not electing a political ‘name’ or someone who gets his photo taken with Lansing and Washington politicians. You’re being asked to hire the CEO of a $14 million public corporation serving 27,000 people. Ask yourself, who has the most experience in local, county and state government? Who has the greatest level of community knowledge and involvement? Who has the professional educational background needed for the job?
I hope I can earn your support in August of 2016.