|Jeremy Kaplan is the director for community outreach for Judge Sheila Johnson’s campaign for the Michigan Supreme Court. The director of the West Bloomfield Village Civic Association since 2005 and a 2011 graduate of Beloit College, he also is a field organizer for Remote Consulting.|
Eight candidates — Larry Brown, Hartley Harris, Jeremy Kaplan, Steve Kaplan, Howard Rosenberg, Gerald J. Sukenic, Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer, and Al Zara — are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Democratic primary election for West Bloomfield Township trustee. The top four vote-getters will compete in the Nov. 6 general election against one Republican for one of four 4-year terms as trustee that pay $125 per meeting.
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Jeremy Kaplan and his response 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?
JEREMY KAPLAN: The budgeting process has been greatly improved upon by bringing in an automated system that has brought our township into the 21st century. Continuing to improve our budgeting process through technology must continue to be a priority. However, as the township board continues to research ways to revamp the Information Technology Department, we should explore ways in which we can trim back by becoming more efficient through technology. The township board has also been reluctant to make cuts in the Clerk’s Department as it is charged with managing three elections in 2012. After November, it can be scaled back. Lastly, the fund equity balance must remain untouched. It is critical that we have emergency funds available and that it does not fall below 15 percent of the total budget.
POLITICAL DIVISIVENESS: Much as with the previous incarnation of the township Board of Trustees, the township’s governing body has formed into factions, resulting in divisiveness, bickering, and even members suing one another. Explain how you would work with the township board’s personalities and egos, and what you would do as township trustee to address the board’s fractured nature to ensure civility amongst its members.
JEREMY KAPLAN: On Day No. 1, it is critical that the seven people elected to represent the residents of West Bloomfield recognize that the public has put their faith in them to work together to move West Bloomfield forward. Whoever the seven members are, it is absolutely critical that they put aside old grudges and begin fresh on a clean slate. Once they take office, it should not matter who was part of what slate or faction. The seven that win are the final slate and the one the public has entrusted to serve diligently. While it is perfectly fine to have disagreements, communication must not break down. We must put faith in each other, work to compromise, and understand that we are partners, not competitors.
REDEVELOPMENT: Please state why you do or don’t believe the township is adequately prepared to deal with various redevelopment issues. What would you like to see in the way of new developments on previously developed sites? Please state why you do or don’t believe the notion of redeveloping the Orchard Lake Road stretch between Maple and 14 Mile roads into a new “downtown” is feasible in the foreseeable future.
JEREMY KAPLAN: The planning commission has made it possible for our township to adequately deal with and ensure feasibility of redevelopment. Steps should continue to be taken so that Orchard Lake Road between Maple and 14 Mile Road is a place where businesses can thrive, increase our tax revenue, and allow our residents and visitors to enjoy shopping and dining. While I hesitate to say we can or should be like downtown Birmingham over this one mile stretch, I believe it serves as a valuable attraction for business and family fun. However, let me be absolutely clear that I support preserving our wetlands and woodlands. We have unique environmental features here and they must be protected because they represent a valuable part of what makes us West Bloomfield.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
JEREMY KAPLAN: No. 1, explore options to reduce the cost of water for our residents. As water rates continue to skyrocket, it is essential that our township researches ways in which we can ultimately reduce costs for residents. While being cost-conscious is crucial, one option to explore is constructing a water reservoir that has the potential to reduce water rates by up to 35 percent.
No. 2, diversifying our township’s boards and commissions to represent the many different constituencies that reside here and provide them with a strong voice.
No. 3, reaching out and making effort to work with your fellow board members and encouraging them to work with you. Whether we tend to agree or disagree, I reach my hand out to every candidate in hopes of a strong working relationship.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
JEREMY KAPLAN: The township board needs a young, fresh perspective. Diversity comes in many forms, including age, and I believe it is essential that youth is represented on the township board. I am a progressive, passionate, and productive individual seeking to bring more communication and less conflict to the township board. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science and have been an issue advocate for progressive causes since 2004. I have served on the West Bloomfield Village Civic Association Board since 2005 and received an award from the West Bloomfield Optimist Club “for upholding the dignity of youth, for showing sincere devotion to the welfare of others, and for generous and unselfish contributions to society.” I look forward to serving West Bloomfield Township with passion, pride, community, and diversity.