Commerce Township Clerk Daniel Munro has decided to throw his support behind an independent candidate for his job after deciding that he will resign the clerk’s position effective Jan. 1, 2013 if he is elected to a four-year term as the township’s top elections official and record-keeper.
Munro — who will still appear on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot as the only Republican in the race — said he will be returning to his private sector job at the end of the year as chief information officer and senior vice president of information technology for Community Choice Credit Union in Farmington Hills.
He is backing Janet Bushey, the township’s finance and human resources director, to become the next township clerk. He said she will be mounting an independent campaign for a four-year term as clerk, a position that pays $74,855 annually.
The filing deadline for independent candidates is Thursday, July 19.
Munro said his ideal candidate for the clerk position is Vanessa Magner, the township’s deputy clerk, but Magner “is not interested in running.”
He stressed that Bushey is “very qualified for the position” and has good knowledge of the workings of township government.
“Her experience and knowledge of Commerce Township will provide an excellent foundation transitioning into this new role,” Munro said of Bushey in an e-mail.
In the event that Munro wins election in the Nov. 6 general election — something he called “very likely” — he would resign the post effective Jan. 1, 2013 and make a recommendation to the township board that Bushey be appointed.
“I needed to make a decision whether or not I wanted to do this the next four years, and unfortunately I didn’t make that decision in time,” he said.
In addition to his desire to return to his private sector job at Community Choice, he also said his decision was based on his assessment that “the township board is less effective than it used to be.”
“We’ve taken our eye off of what a board should really be doing. It should be focused on the strategy, on our overall mission and vision for the township. We argue more about a $12 (per-hour) part-time employee in the Building Department than we do about $80 million in bond financing (for the Downtown Development Authority) that needs to be paid off.
“I find myself choosing to engage the board members in those battles and it gets tough. I think some board members choose not to wade into the deep end. It’s easier if you stay in the shallow end because you don’t have to make any tough choices, you don’t have to be confrontational when the situation warrants it. We’ve got some board members that just say no to everything without an alternative in mind.”
Trustee Robert Long saw things differently.
“I was very surprised by his decision to not continue to seek the term he was running for,” Long said. “And I’m surprised by his comments (about the board). I don’t see it that way. Perhaps board members ask questions, and it doesn’t always go the way Mr. Munro sees it, but I disagree that the board is less effective. I look at our township board and I look at others in the region, and I think the Commerce Township board is very effective.”
Munro also said it’s important for township voters to “really consider who they vote for in this upcoming primary” due to the fact that there will be at least one new trustee since Trustee Debra Kirkwood has tossed her hat into the ring to challenge township Supervisor Tom Zoner, who Munro is supporting.
Both are Kirkwood and Zoner are Republicans.
In addition to the candidacy that Munro said Bushey will mount, Carson Lyons, an independent, confirmed on Friday, July 6 that she will also run for clerk in the Nov. 6 general election.
She said today that she’s been more active in the community in recent years since she gave up her construction management career, which she said is part of her qualifications for office. She is currently a stay-at-home mom.
“I’ve been paying more attention to the community lately and have an idea of what’s going on these days,” Lyons said. “I think the most important qualification is that passion I have for Commerce Township and making sure we do the best we can for ourselves.”
She also said that if elected, she would advocate for more transparency at the township board level, including televising board meetings and providing more detailed minutes of board meetings.