As many of you know, this website has two editors, Jim Foulkrod and myself (Richard Michalski). Generally we agree on most topics. One clear example of this, shared with many in our Township, is that our current Supervisor, Terry Gonser, cannot be re-elected as Supervisor due to the many inappropriate things he has done while Supervisor. A long documented list of these actions can be reviewed in the following post:
However, Jim and I disagree on who is most qualified to be our next Supervisor. I would like to share with you my reasons why I think Mike Bailey is the most qualified candidate. I will also make a suggestion that may help achieve our mutual goal of ensuring Terry Gonser does not get re-elected in a three person race.
In one of my previous posts, I listed qualities I felt were important in our next Supervisor. Here they are again:
- Township experience, especially in Township planning
- Knowledge of how our Township works,
- An understanding of the issues we are facing,
- Personal involvement in resolving the many issues,
- No desire to change our form of governance
- No desire to use the Supervisor position as a jumping point for higher political positions
I will comment on each of these as they relate to Terry Gonser, Andy Zale and Mike Bailey.
Terry Gonser got elected with no Township governance experience. He won the support of many because he was an outspoken advocate on several volatile issues our Township faced in 2012. Many former supporters now admit that they had not properly vetted Terry. His lack of Township governance experience contributed to the massive dysfunction in our Township over the past term.
Andy Zale was elected in 2012 as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner. He was selected as the Commission’s chairperson. He has done a marvelous job chairing the often-contentious meetings. However, Andy has not participated, or made his opinions known on the many issues our Township has faced over the past 4 years. He has only participated in Township Board meetings when there were Parks issues that needed to be addressed.
Mike Bailey has been personally involved in our Township for 28 years. He and I shared many of them on the Planning Commission. Much of what we see and love in our Township is due to the great planning that has occurred. Mike has been an integral part of that. More recently, he has been on the Township Board, and has continued to serve our community in a positive manner.
Knowledge of how our Township works
Supervisor Gonser came into office with no knowledge of how our Township works. Two groups of employees in our Township joined unions during his tenure, the Firefighters and the Parks and Recreation employees. Their decision was the direct result of the actions of Terry Gonser and others on the Board. Many talented staff members, who helped create our great Township, left their positions during his term in office and now serve other communities.
Andy Zale is gaining an understanding of how our Township works; however, his Parks experience is only one small piece of our Township. More experience will help him.
Mike on the other hand has worked with all the departments involved in our Township as a Planning Commissioner and Trustee. He knows why our Township has benefitted from having a professional Township Manager over the years (more on this issue later).
Understanding of the issues we are facing
Terry Gonser certainly has a good understanding of the issues facing our Township. He has contributed in creating many of them. We have not been able to solve many longstanding issues because valuable time has been lost searching for a Township manager that could work with, and around, Terry’s authoritarian, omnipotent and omniscient behavior.
As stated earlier, Andy is on a learning curve. In discussions with others who have been talking with Andy, he is attempting to get an understanding of the issues, and he needs to be complemented for his efforts.
On the other hand, Mike needs no ‘ramping up’. As an existing Board member, he is ‘in the know’ on all of the major issues facing our Township.
Personal involvement in resolving current issues
Certainly, as the Township Supervisor, Gonser should be involved in resolving our issues. However, his solutions and positions on issues are often the ‘minority position’ on the Board. Differences of opinion are good, however, voters should review Terry’s position on many of the votes that have taken place. Our other elected representative officials often do not agree with his positions, or where he would take us.
Andy has done a great job in resolving issues on the Parks and Recreation Commission. He has not gotten involved in many other issues in our Township.
Mike has, and is, actively participated in many of the subcommittees that the Board has established to deal with issues facing our Township. He has also participated in many volunteer efforts representing out Township such as ‘clean scene’.
No desire to change our Township’s form of governance
Terry Gonser, and former Trustee Maureen Thalmann, wasted many hours at Township Board meetings trying to convince the Board that we should have a ‘Stong Supervisor’ form of governance in our Township. This would eliminate the full time professional Township administrator, and have the Supervisor be the full time person who would make the day-to-day administrative decisions in our Township. Terry never disclosed his desire to change our Township’s form of governance prior to being elected.
In my initial conversation with Andy Zale, before he announced his candidacy for Supervisor, I asked him his position on having a ‘Strong Supervisor’ or a ‘Manager’ form of government in Oakland Township. His response was “I can see the benefits of both.” He would not take a position on this matter at that time. More recently, when asked the question again, he indicated that he supported the ‘Manager’ form of governance, but added, “I have spoken with Orion Township Supervisor Barnett, and see the benefits of that form of governance.” Andy added that he had a full time job, and would not be able to be a full time Supervisor. From my standpoint, this is almost a disqualifying position on the matter. Having personally listened to the many arguments on both sides of this issue in Township Board meeting, Andy’s ambiguity on this issue indicated that he did not yet understand Oakland Township’s governance needs. Fortunately, he has now taken the position that he does not support the ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of governance. More exposure to how our Township works will hopefully solidify his position on this matter.
Mike not only understands the benefits of having a profession Township manager, but has strongly stated he is opposed to the ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of governance.
No desire to use the Supervisor position as a political jumping off point
Others have told me that Terry Gonser had, and may still have, ambitions for running for higher public offices. I cannot confirm this, but I have heard it from a number of individuals. My opinion is that our elected officials need to focus on the job they were elected to fill. All energy should be spent on serving the will of their electorate; not taking actions that would be self-serving for future political desires.
In a recent conversation I had with Andy, he indicated that his first choice was to run for State Representative. Others told him that he did not have the experience, and needed more time in an elected position at the local level. That is why he chose to run for Township Supervisor.
In a recent conversation I had with Mike, he confirmed that he had no aspirations to higher elected office. He wanted to spend time helping Oakland Township move forward in a manner that maintains the beauty and character that has made it the place we all love to live.
WE KNOW WHAT WE HAVE WITH MIKE BAILEY!
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township, and what can you do about it? Our Township cannot afford to have another four year of Terry Gonser as our Supervisor. We currently have two additional candidates, Andy Zale and Mike Bailey. Either would be a significant improvement over Terry Gonser.
With three candidates in the running, the potential for Gonser to win increases. Several citizens have commented that if Terry wins, we would lose the valued services of both Andy and Mike.
I have expressed my opinion as to whom I prefer for Supervisor. You may or may not agree, but if you agree that either would be better for our Township than Terry Gonser, and you would like to see both Andy and Mike continue to serve our Township, I suggest you visit the following websites, and email your preferred candidate letting him know of your support AND also email the other candidate, encouraging him to run for Trustee. We do need both of these valued individuals serving our Township. Please send your emails soon, so Andy or Mike can revise their decision regarding which office to run for prior to the filing deadline of April 19th.
We cannot afford to loose the service of both.
Here are their websites:
Andy Zale http://www.AndyZale.com
Mike Bailey http://www.MikeBaileySupervisor.com