|Donna Gundle-Krieg is the owner of Blitz Krieg Publishing, a political journalism company since 1996. In addition, she was a human resource consultant for University of Michigan Health Systems for 12 years. In addition, she is the Lone Tree Acres Subdivision Association President and was an English and journalism teacher at West Highland Christian Academy.|
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 Gundle-Krieg 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?
GUNDLE-KRIEG: The voters will be my boss if I am elected as supervisor. Therefore, public sentiment is very important.
However, it is necessary to correctly define public sentiment. I plan to listen to all voices, and not just to the powerful people, especially those with special interests.
If I am doing a good job communicating issues to the public, people should be well aware of my knowledge and feelings about an issue. If they trust me as a leader, they will consider my recommendations because of my commitment to study and prepare for issues that will impact my community.
Also, I will be surrounded by competent board members who will debate any differences. Luckily, our government is set up to have several people making decisions, rather than just the supervisor.
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?
GUNDLE-KRIEG: As a fiscal conservative, I would treat every tax dollar as responsibly as my own. Every single budget item would be thoroughly analyzed and prioritized. No item should be held harmless from the budget ax.
The current township board has done an excellent job prioritizing the budget, and keeping a healthy fund balance. I would advocate continuing to maintain this fund balance, and would work to obtain board agreement as to a proper fund balance level.
We are in the grip of a global recession, and need to protect the township budget by focusing on needs. Public safety, keeping the town clean, contributions to road improvement projects, and maintaining current infrastructure and parks are needs. Any new projects should be carefully analyzed to determine if they are wants or needs.
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?
GUNDLE-KRIEG: The majority of Highland residents have expressed the desire to maintain Highland’s rural nature.
However, we should be able to keep Highland natural while supporting the small business community. Businesses help our tax base and our property values.
I envision a healthy downtown area with more shops, restaurants, and community events. We need to have a strong and active Downtown Development Authority (DDA) with a good working relationship with the township board.
The best way to attract new small business is for the government to get out of the way. Business owners tell me that the biggest obstacles to their success involve overly restrictive ordinances. I would like to see the DDA and other business owners become more active in giving feedback while these ordinances are being reviewed and updated.
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.
GUNDLE-KRIEG: Public safety is a primary role of local government, so I support letting the public decide whether there should be a police millage to restore former staffing levels.
While crime statistics have not risen due to the recent reduction of police forces, feedback from those at town hall meetings suggests a desire for the community to be proactive regarding public safety. In addition, there have been concerns about reduced police service to the public because of prior cuts.
To respect voters, I believe that every millage issue should only be put on the ballot once. Taxpayers get tired of being asked the same questions over and over, as this leads to cynicism of government. Many people are in bad financial condition and can’t afford increased taxes.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
GUNDLE-KRIEG: No. 1, building a positive and dynamic new staff to serve the taxpayers. My professional human resource experience will help me to set expectations and positive goals for employees.
No. 2, communication and passionate debate from the board, and between other government entities. My specialty is effective two-way communications, and I will always be available to residents, business owners, and employees.
No. 3, finding the balance between the rural nature of Highland and the needs of small businesses. The majority of the township residents express the desire for Highland to remain rural. This can happen while considering the needs of small businesses, my own included. In particular, the township business ordinances need to be updated.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
GUNDLE-KRIEG: Highland Township will undergo major personnel changes after the election. My professional human resource experience at the University of Michigan will help me to set expectations and positive goals to develop dynamic teams.
As a political journalist, I have been trained to question government decisions. As a township supervisor, I will continue to encourage passionate discussion. I will also work to improve communications among all township entities, and to the taxpayers, who are the township’s customers.
My leadership style is to set the example by being passionate about serving the people. I will listen to and consider the thoughts of the employees, taxpayers, and members of government entities.
In addition, I am an advocate for what is right. I have strong community ties, but do not represent any special interests.