|Rita Holloway-Irwin is the former village clerk for Wolverine Lake and a graduate of Oakland Community College and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks through Michigan State University. She is also a past member of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks and the Oakland County Clerk’s Association.|
Teresa Fortino and Rita Holloway-Irwin will compete in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary election for the Democratic nomination for Waterford Township clerk. Township clerks serve four-year terms and is compensated between $72,696 and $94,507 annually, depending on experience.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Holloway-Irwin and her response to those questions.
CLERK’S ROLE: Clerks have a role in the township’s financial affairs that is often overlooked. Is there a need for changes or improvements in the way the Clerk’s Office handles these financial responsibilities?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: It’s my opinion that the clerk’s role is equal to the other trustees on the board. When it comes to voting for financial issues of the township, they are equal. If and when I am in office, I would review the budget process to make sure the clerk has examined all the issues.
RECORDS: The township clerk is also responsible for record-keeping and storage of the township’s records and documents. What changes or upgrades, if any, do you anticipate having to make in the way records are kept or stored in the township?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: I would ensure there was a record retention schedule in place that would allow the Clerk’s Office and other departments to store the necessary permanent records and destroy records that are taking up unnecessary storage area and within financial constraints. There is a possibility of scanning documents and electronically storing them. I have no knowledge of what they are doing at this time because I don’t work in the office at this time.
BUDGET: Years of revenue decline prompting by falling home values and other reasons have forced a variety of budget cuts. What changes in township budgeting priorities or processes do you advocate to deal with these hurdles? Where could the township’s budget be trimmed back? What, if anything, in the budget should be held harmless from the budget ax?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: I feel as though the budget needs to be examined on a line by line basis, scrutinizing every dollar in every department. Virtually nothing in the budget can be held harmless from being removed. I would review all existing policies and apply my background to uncover any areas of savings that may have been overlooked. Public safety and welfare, meaning police and fire, of our residents need to be top priority. I will exhaust all avenues to keep our own police and fire departments. Police and fire is the only thing to be held harmless. It’s very important.
POLICE/FIRE DISPATCH: Some on the township board have come forward with a proposal to contract with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department for police and fire dispatch services as a way to save money. Explain why you do or don’t support the proposal.
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: I understand that Oakland County could provide dispatch services for Waterford, but during my time on the campaign trail I’ve spoken with a lot of residents who feel as though they would feel much safer if keep it in-house. They feel the response time is much greater by keeping it in-house because the officers are much more familiar with territory. There needs to be greater in-depth study before anything takes place.
WASTE COLLECTION: Waterford currently has a waste collection system under which each individual resident and business is left to secure their own trash collection service, but some have proposed changing that by carving up the township into waste collection districts and soliciting bids from haulers to serve those districts. How, if at all, should the township’s current waste collection system be changed, and why?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: The waste collection (system) should remain status quo. Waste collection is a broad and personal issue and one that most people feel strongly about. Residents have earned the right to contract with who they wish. The township could assist in areas in going out for bids for residents who want to form a special assessment district (SAD) which could be created for them, but that’s up to the individuals or groups. I know that people are upset by having umpteen number of trash haulers on their streets and (they feel that the haulers) are ruining their streets, but if township wants to get involved and certain groups of residents want to help get these SADs formed, then they can get certain groups of haulers. We don’t have to have single streets with different haulers.
SUMMIT PLACE: Essentially vacant and an eyesore, the Summit Place Mall has been the subject of a number of proposals for redevelopment. However, there has yet to be a large-scale redevelopment proposal to come to fruition. What is your vision for the future of the Summit Place Mall site? What would you do, if anything, as a township board member to ensure that vision becomes reality?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: We need to remember that it’s a large piece of privately owned property, but it’s important when prospective developers bring something to the township for review that the boards and departments work together to revive this area and make it a reality. It will also help to bring jobs to the Waterford area, and that is needed. What would I do to help this come to light? I would jump in and do whatever we can do as board members to help this become a reality.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: The police, fire and dispatch services. I definitely want to help work on keeping these departments together, the dispatch together to keep it in the township. It’s a much needed service that has to stay together. I don’t want to see taxes raised.
No. 2 is senior citizens. They make up a large portion of this township. I would like to see some more services be added. I know they have transportation for the seniors, but during my campaigning, I had a lot of people bring this issue up to me (wanting) to see more transportation.
No. 3, it’s important the electors of this township be provided with a clerk with experience. At this point in time, I don’t see much revenue in the budget to train somebody new coming in and I have 28 years of municipal experience and 12 years as a municipal clerk.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
HOLLOWAY-IRWIN: I have worked very hard my entire life. I started out working in the banking industry, and from there (I went) to municipal government world. I was always hired or appointed to my positions and I have worked very hard for everything I’ve earned. Honesty and integrity follow. I was born and raised in Waterford. I come from a line of public servants. My father was a chief of police; my mother was an Oakland County dispatcher.
I feel as though I bring honesty and integrity to the township residents, as well as a full line of experience in the clerk’s office, which is very important to have a pretty good idea on how to run a clerk’s office when you get in there. I feel I’m ready to take over. I’ve run elections before, accounts payable, payroll for several years. I’ve worked with ordinances. I’ve run the gambit. I’ve taken (meeting) minutes for 28 years for several boards. I’ve attended over 800 meetings in my lifetime over planning, zoning, council. I feel as though I can bring a lot to the township residents.