Who are the candidates to fill the vacant Oakland Township Supervisor position?

At the November 15, 2022 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Dominic Abbate announced that he had submitted his resignation letter with an effective date of November 30th. The Board has 45 days to fill that position after the resignation takes effect. At the November 15th meeting, the Board asked that any current Township Board member, as well as any other Township resident interested in filling that position, should fill out an application and submit it to the Township Clerk’s office by December 1. The list of potential candidates is now known. It is anticipated that the decision will be made at the December 13th Board meeting.

Several existing Board members indicated that they are interested in the position as well as two other Township residents. They include:

  • Treasurer – John Giannangeli
  • Clerk – Robin Buxar
  • Trustee – Andy Zale
  • Former Planning Commission member and ZBA member – James Carter
  • Former ZBA member – John Markel

In order for the position to be filled, at least 4 of the 6 seated Board members will have to approve the candidate. This could prove to be very interesting, since 3 of them are interested in the Supervisor position themselves. In order for one of the existing Board members to be selected, he/she would either have to gain the vote of the OTHER three Board members (David Mabry, Jack Elder and Lana Mangiapani), or one of the candidates interested in the position, would have to drop out and vote for him/her. The potential for ‘grid lock’ exists in selecting one of the three seated Board members. One of the other two candidates could become a ‘dark horse’ candidate for the position.

What follows is the author’s assessment of the situation:

If John Giannangeli was selected, the critical position of Treasurer would have to be backfilled. John has an extensive financial background and is well suited for the Treasurer’s position. That is why the voters selected him for that position in the last election. Having to backfill the Treasurer’s position could negatively impact the Township. Andy Zale could potentially fill the Treasurer’s position, since he is a personal financial consultant. Residents need to form their own opinion on John’s demeanor and ability to lead a team based on his behavior in handling previous controversial issues before the Township Board.

If Robin Buxar was selected, the similarly critical position of Clerk would have to be backfilled. Robin has done a good job in our recent election. There are follow-up items that need to be understood and possibly improved upon based on results of the last election. Prior to the last election, she was unable to fill a critical clerk support position in a timely manner, so she had to personally step in and do some of that work. Her personal compensation over that period of time was significantly increased as a result. She is a strong leader, but there is no clear candidate to backfill a vacant Clerk position. In addition, the 2024 election is very critical, and our Township cannot afford to have any issues in that critical election. Her experience would best serve the Township if she remained our Clerk.

If Andy Zale was selected, there would be no risk to the Financial or Clerical matters in our Township. Andy was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. He has demonstrated his skill in leading a team through complicated issues when he was Chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Commission. His ability to efficiently and effectively chair a meeting with controversial topics has been demonstrated. He also has been a member of the Oakland Township Safety Path and Trails Committee, so he is very familiar with the wide ranging features and needs of our Township.

As stated above, in order for any of the above candidates to be selected, he/she would have to gain the support of the other three Board members or one of the three interested candidates would have to drop out. If ‘grid lock’ occurred, the nomination of either James Carter or John Markel could become a reality. Both of these men have exhibited interest in the Township for years. Both have held appointed positions in our Township’s commissions or boards.

James Carter was an Oakland Township Planning Commission member for 18 years (1997-2015). He was the Chairperson of that Commission for a large number of those years. He is very knowledgeable about our Township Ordinances and Planning process since he was also a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He has demonstrated his ability to listen to the residents on issues that impact them while leading the Planning Commission through complex and controversial issues. James has been in the information technology field, and has formed and owned businesses in that field.

John Markel has been active in Township matters for at least the last 10 to 15 years. He participates in many Township Board meetings during the discussions on the matters before the Board. His recommendations to the Board frequently deal with well documented and transparent processes for the Township Board’s and staff to follow. He is involved in the Auto Industry and is very familiar with the Quality Standards defined by QS9000 requirements. He has served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 3 years. He was Chairperson of the ZBA for one year.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?

The person who sits in the Supervisor position is critical to the success of our Township. He/she has the responsibility to effectively and efficiently lead the Board through complex and controversial issues based on the existing laws and ordinances that govern our Charter Township. Issues that come up need to be dealt with in a manner that comprehend the desires of the residents of the Township.

The Treasurer and Clerk Positions are also critical to our Township. The Oath of Office that our Treasurer and Clerk took when they were sworn in, would best be served if they continued to fulfill their commitment to those positions. If they are interested in the Supervisor position, they can run for that position in 2024.

From the author’s perspective, we have two candidates that are eminently qualified for the Supervisory position. They are Andy Zale & James Carter. Both of these individuals had demonstrated their ability to lead Township Commissions through complex issues while involving residents in a non-confrontational manner.

The process and criteria that Board will use to select the best person for the position is not clear. However, citizen input may have an influence on their thinking. The author has shared with you his thoughts on the matter. If you want to potentially impact the Board’s decision, I suggest you contact the Board, and share your thoughts with all six of them.



Richard Michalski

4 thoughts on “Who are the candidates to fill the vacant Oakland Township Supervisor position?

  1. Patricia Kane

    Didn’t Andy Zale have some involvement or connection or his family as to what happened with the Paint Creek Cider Mill –lease and everything with the restuarant and and a Chamber person from Rochester?

    1. richardjmichalski Post author

      Andy did have a different vision for how the Cider Mill property could be used. I am unaware of an issue with the Rochester Chamber person. Right now I am just trying to analyze the alternatives that the Board must consider.

      1. Patricia Kane

        The Rochester past president of the Chamber was the one that was going to take the space and had a lease –she owns a ice cream parlor in Lake Orion. Thanks for the response. Whatever happens and whoever gets it, the land use effects us all in the community–the density, traffic, etc. and loss of green space.

  2. Cam Mannino

    Very helpful, Dick. I hope some folks already have written as Reg and I have. We recommended Andy Zale, though Dave Carter also has impressive credentials and would do a fine job.


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