|Ryan M. Golem has worked in the equity compensation field since 2004. He is the director of the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP) Michigan Chapter.|
Ryan M. Golem is among six Republican candidates competing in the Aug. 7 primary election for Commerce Township trustee positions. With no Democrats filed in the race, the four Republicans receiving the most votes on Aug. 7 will be unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election race for four trustee positions. Commerce Township trustees serve four-year terms and are currently paid $100 per meeting.
The following are questions we recently posed to Golem, and his responses to those questions.
BUDGET: Years of revenue decline prompted 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?
GOLEM: Over the past several years there have been many cuts already made by the township, and any additional cuts would require extensive research by myself and the members of the board. I cannot 100 percent commit at this time to any one department or project where additional budget cuts could be made.
I strongly believe that the Fire Department and Police protection cannot afford to have any cuts (I was in support of the SAD for the Fire Department in 2010.) The response times of both the Fire Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Department would increase if cuts were made to these departments, and I feel strongly that we cannot afford to go down that path.
MARTIN PARKWAY: The current economic climate and deterioration in the real estate market has hindered the Downtown Development Authority’s ability to sell the DDA property along Martin Parkway to developers for local and national retail stores. Now the township has to help repay DDA bonds. What, if anything, needs to be done differently to ensure that land can be developed? What is your vision for that area of Commerce Township, and the development of the township in general?
GOLEM: The current economic climate is unfortunate, but in time, the vacant land on the Martin Parkway will regain value, and will be a valuable asset to Commerce Township. Due to excellent visibility, there is no denying these locations would be desirable for a variety of businesses. To start, I would suggest putting new, updated for sale signs along the parkway so potential buyers are aware of the property.
PARKS AND RECREATION: The township has for some time been in the process of acquiring a portion of the Proud Lake Recreation Area, a final step in which has been put on hold because of state payments in lieu of taxes. Does the township need more open space? Why or why not? What additional steps, if any, would you like the township to take to make sure residents have abundant parks and recreation opportunities?
GOLEM: As Commerce continues to grow, we will see more and more children growing up in the Township. Many families as well as active adults are becoming more interested in outdoor activities and taking advantage of all their community has to offer them. That’s why I believe it is important to connect and create bike and walking trails, develop youth and adult programs and leagues, add new and more modern equipment to our parks, and educate residents of all recreation locations and activities, as these resources are essential for Commerce to continue to be a destination for families in the metro Detroit area.
WATER TOWER: The proposed location of a $5.8-million water tower in Commerce Township that would save $1.3 million annually was recently nixed after residents of the area originally considered for the tower protested. Explain why you do or don’t support the proposed water tower project. If you support construction of a water tower, where should it be placed and why?
GOLEM: I am absolutely in favor of constructing a water tower in the township. I’m not sure how anyone would be opposed to lowering resident’s utility bills at no additional cost to the taxpayer. The water tower should be placed in a location deemed most practical by township engineers, but not in any resident’s backyard.
HAGGERTY ROAD: There has long been a stalemate between Commerce and West Bloomfield townships about Commerce’s desire to widen the two-lane stretch of road between Pontiac Trail and Richardson Road. Do you support widening Haggerty to allow for better traffic flow? Why or why not? If so, what can or should the township do to see the proposal to fruition?
GOLEM: The completion of the Martin Parkway has given relief to this section of Haggerty Road, and I don’t believe this should be a top priority at this time. The township can always re-evaluate the traffic flow in the future, and if it becomes evident there is a need to expand Haggerty, the Township can bring the issue back to the table and re-engage West Bloomfield in a new round of talks.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
GOLEM: 1) Paying down the $80-million DDA bond debt. The township must resolve to develop a game plan to retire the bond debt, with or without incremental revenue from the sale of property along the Martin Parkway.
2) Beginning construction on the proposed water tower. If constructing the water tower will lower water bills for the residents without raising taxes, this project should be immediately approved.
3) Getting independent thinkers elected to the board. Although the willingness to collaborate and being a team player are certainly positive and necessary qualities in a good board member, the ability to ultimately think independently and act accordingly is imperative to avoid the pitfalls of groupthink.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
GOLEM: Let me first say I love living in Commerce Township, and it would be an honor to represent its residents as a new member of the board. I would bring a strong, fresh and, most important, independent voice to the township. My youthful enthusiasm is just what the board needs at this time. I will always be a team player who is thoughtful, open-minded and willing to consider the opinions of fellow board members, but at the end of the day, my decisions will be my own, based on what I feel makes the most sense for the most residents. As current Commerce Township Clerk Dan Munro stated in a July 6, 2012 article in the Spinal Column Newsweekly, “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.” Mr. Munro went on to say Commerce residents need to “really consider who they vote for in this upcoming primary.” A change in leadership is needed for Commerce Township, and it begins with electing new faces to the board. Go with Golem on August 7.