|Brian Howe has been a government teacher at Huron Valley Lakeland High School for the last 17 years. A graduate of Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University, he and his wife have three children.|
Ten candidates — Mary Pat Chynoweth, Charles Dittmar, Jim Gorman, Brenda Granroth, Brian Howe, Bob Husic, Joe Jozwiak, Beth Lewis, Raymond P. Polidori and Russ Tierney — are competing for one of four trustee positions on the Highland Township Board of Trustees in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Republican primary election. Since no Democrats filed to run for a trustee position on the township board, the top four vote-getters will each earn a four-year term that pays a base annual salary of $5,531.
The following are questions we posed to Howe, and his responses to those questions.
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?
HOWE: I feel that it is important that all budget items be looked at very carefully and we need to make sure (with an expenditure) that it is a needed expense. When looking at spending, we need to look very carefully to make sure that it is not something that is going to be a burden on the budget and we need to see if there is some way that what we are spending on can bring money back in and help to pay for itself.
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?
HOWE: The way that we keep our rural character is to attract suitable businesses that fit into the character of our community. We do not need the big box stores and new development when we have empty buildings that can be used for new businesses to locate to Highland. It is important that we work with new businesses so they can locate to Highland Township and do what we can to get them opened up as soon as possible so they can provide their goods to our community and allow our citizens another opportunity to buy local.
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.
HOWE: I do support the ballot question. The safety of our township is very important. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department has done a great job for us and we need to continue that relationship.
PATHWAYS: The township is considering a master plan for future non-motorized paths in the community, after about a year of work. Please state why you do or don’t believe embarking on future path projects should be a priority in the township.
HOWE: I am in support of path projects. As a bike rider, I would like to opportunity to be able to get around without having to ride on the main roads. I would also like to see a way to link Highland Township to the bike trails in Milford.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
HOWE: No. 1, being a business-friendly township. No. 2, being a community-friendly township. No. 3, being a constituent-friendly township.
I think that all of these issues go together as a pressing concern. It is time that the local government works to be the best advocate for these three areas that they can be for the citizens of Highland Township. I will do what is needed to be that leader and advocate for my constituents.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponents?
HOWE: I know that I will do a great job as a representative for the people of Highland Township. I am a people person who will listen and then try to find the answers to the questions the citizens have. People like public servants that they can talk to and I am that person.