Results from the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election sent a message to leadership in Waterford Township: Voters were ready for a change.
In a tight battle for four Waterford trustee seats, only one incumbent retained his seat, and Republican challenger Gary Wall edged out long-time Democratic township Supervisor Carl Solden for a four-year term as the township’s chief executive.
“It was what I hoped for and you have to think positively,” Wall said.
Wall earned 16,867 votes (50.86 percent), while Solden received 16,145 votes (48.69 percent), according to unofficial election results.
“As I look at the numbers, it looks like it was pretty much a Republican election in Waterford and I would venture to say it boiled down to straight-ticket voting,” Solden said.
Solden’s departure comes in conjunction with the defeat of two millage proposals on Nov. 6, a police special assessment district (SAD) and a Parks and Recreation Department millage.
“It could have been a referendum on taxes. I was adamant on supporting the millages because it was what we need and I have an obligation to look out for the community,” Solden said.
Solden was first elected supervisor in 2000. Prior to that, he served 32 years with the Waterford Police Department, first as a patrolman and eventually as a sergeant, detective sergeant, and commander of the Special Operations Unit. He was also assigned to the Oakland County Organized Crime Task Force for two years.
“I’ve served the township for 46 years and been embedded here,” he said. “I’m not done yet, but my political aspirations are done. I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open. I’m not ready to quit working.”
Still, Solden said he is disappointed that he will be leaving his post in a community he has fought for during a time of economic turmoil.
“It’s been a great 12-year run, but a hard run,” he said. “No one has held the office in as challenging of a time as I have, and we’ve weathered the storm pretty well. It’s hard leaving people I’ve formed relationships with — there are so many people, and for that I’m very grateful.”
Wall ran against Solden prior to this election; however, this time the voters handed him the township’s reins.
“First off, I’m going to start digging in and see where we’re at and where we need to be with the budget,” Wall said. “I will be meeting with department heads, working on the budget, and essentially getting acclimated.”
“I supported Gary from the beginning and never hid my support for him,” said township Trustee Anthony Bartolotta. “He’ll be open-minded and will make a darn good supervisor.”
Apart from Bartolotta, voters ousted the rest of the Waterford trustees up for election this time around.
Bartolotta received the highest number of trustee race votes (15,523, or 13.50 percent), but both incumbents Doc Maloney (a Republican) and David Kramer (a Democrat) lost in one of the tightest races of the night.
“I was firm on (opposition to) the SAD and that’s what did it for me, unless people just wanted an overall change,” Bartolotta said of his re-election. “Asking citizens to raise taxes right now wasn’t good. People in Waterford can’t afford it. It was bad timing.”
Republican challenger Julie Brown (15,506 votes, or 13.48 percent), Democratic challenger Donna Kelley (14,555 votes, 12.65 percent), and Republican challenger Karen Joliat (14,508 votes, 12.61 percent) each won four-year terms as trustees.
Treasurer Margaret Birch ran uncontested.
Republican Sue Camilleri defeated Democrat Teresa Fortino in the township clerk race.
“I was very pleased with my results,” Camilleri said. “It seemed that the voters are telling us ‘no new taxes,’ and that was reflective on the candidates who were supporting the increases and that will be the message I carry forward.”
New Board of Trustees members will be sworn in at the Monday, Nov. 26 meeting.
The township supervisor, treasurer, clerk, and four trustees all serve four-year terms. The supervisor is currently paid $90,987 annually; the clerk is currently paid between $72,696 and $94,507 annually, depending on experience; and trustees are currently paid $10,976 annually.