|Catherine Kristian is a Michigan notary public and the owner/manager of Account Outsourcing Solutions and Universal Controls. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she serves to Oakland County groups as chairperson and she and her husband have two teenage children.|
Donna Gundle-Krieg, Rick Hamill, Catherine Kristian, Lynn O’Brien and Arthur Van Brook will compete in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary election for the Republican nomination for Highland Township supervisor. The winner will face the Democratic Party’s nominee in the Nov. 6 general election. The Highland Township supervisor serves a four-year term and currently earns $65,691 annually.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Kristian and her response to those questions.
LEADERSHIP: As supervisor, at what point do you believe you should disregard public sentiment, and cast a vote on an item based on your own knowledge and feelings about how an issue impacts the greater community?
KRISTIAN: As a supervisor, I will make it my duty to know and understand the running of the township office, be aware of what is happening in Highland, and keep on top of issues that could impact our township. This type of knowledge will help me in discerning issues that come before the Board of Trustees to make wise and important decisions. There may be times that, as supervisor, I will have to use this experience, understanding, and knowledge to cast a vote based on the wisdom gained through this hard work and effort.
BUDGET: All municipal governments in Michigan have faced difficult budget scenarios over the past few years, as declines in property values have produced a revenue stream that can’t keep up with various rising costs. 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?
KRISTIAN: Highland has faced the issue of a decline in property tax revenue. It is most important to continue to provide police, fire, library, parks, and township office services. These should be held harmless. The current township officials have done a good job in keeping our township in excellent financial standing. I plan to keep it that way. There will be budgeting priorities and processes that can be accomplished through the following:
The budget will need to be continuously managed and reviewed to make sure not to exceed projected expenditures.
It will be important to track the rising cost of services and forecast wisely.
To provide essential services, it will be necessary to research ways other communities have trimmed costs, and saved money.
DEVELOPMENT: Some in the community are striving to preserve the township’s rural character while others are yearning for more business development in Highland. Is there a way that Highland can maintain its rural ethos while attracting new business and development? If so, how? If not, why not?
KRISTIAN: As I speak with the residents of Highland, they tell me they love this community and want to keep its integrity. Highland is made up of parks, green space, waterways, and open land. This is part of what makes Highland special. However, business is important to Highland, too. I want to see those empty buildings and vacant lots blooming with life again. I believe we can keep the integrity of Highland, yet still allow businesses to thrive here. I plan to be a part of those avenues that help support a business environment in Highland. I, also, plan to be a part of monitoring any growth and how it affects our small town feel. I will strive to protect the integrity and beauty of Highland.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Highland voters are being asked to authorize a two-year, 0.75-mill increase in local property taxes to continue providing for police services in the township, with the increased revenue generated in the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) District being disbursed to the DDA. Please explain why you do or don’t support the ballot question.
KRISTIAN: I am in support of the police millage increase. The township Board of Trustees did an excellent job researching into and explaining the situation to the public at a previous board meeting. The positions were justified and the millage amount was carefully thought out before placing it on the ballot. I believe the trustees thought very carefully about the good of Highland before proposing this millage. I respect and support our police officials.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
KRISTIAN: No. 1, Highland will have, at least, three new trustees on the board. I believe it will be important to establish a good working relationship that is effective, and together we can accomplish the goals of the township. I will practice open communication, respect, and servitude as supervisor.
No. 2, it will be important to keep a balanced budget. I believe it will require accountability when making purchases, contracting services, and looking into additional spending. Taxpayer money should be tracked wisely, and be in line with what the budget allows.
No. 3, Highland needs to provide services that the township can expect. I believe researching into ways to provide excellent service, at affordable costs, is essential. This can be accomplished by looking into contracts, new technology, and being aware of what works in other townships.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
KRISTIAN: I understand the role of supervisor and can transition into this position through my qualifications, experiences, and my love for Highland Township. I go to all essential meetings to keep up with what is happening in and around Highland. I understand the local government’s responsibility of running a township, and the importance of maintaining a balanced budget. I come from a professional background of managing, planning, development, and budgeting. I currently direct and chair the board of two Oakland County groups. I have the experience of being on a board, both leading and working with board members. I practice leadership skills while promoting teamwork. I hold honesty, integrity, and fiscal responsibility to the highest standard. As supervisor I will listen and work hard for the Charter Township of Highland.