In December of 2015, the Charter Township of Kalamazoo approved a motion moving their township from a full time Supervisor form of governance to one with a part time Supervisor and a professional manager. They concluded their community would be better served by having a form of governance similar to Oakland Township’s.
Our current Supervisor, Terry Gonser, has spent three years trying to change our structure to what Kalamazoo is moving away from. Supervisor Gonser has called our current form of governance “bizarre” and “unworkable” in an Oakland Press article.
The Kalamazoo Board now understands the wisdom former Oakland Township Supervisor Joan Buser (and the Board at the time) had when our form of governance was changed to it’s current form in 1998.
In a recently published article on this website, Oakland Township Clerk Reilly indicated that other townships in the state of Michigan are moving toward Oakland Township’s current form of governance. One of our residents, Reg Brown, commented that the Charter Township of Kalamazoo was joining those ranks. On December 14, 2015, the Charter Township of Kalamazoo voted to hire a professional Township manager and a finance director to take effect in November of 2016.
The discussion that occurred at their Board meeting was similar to the many that have occurred at our Board meetings when Supervisor Gonser repeatedly attempted to change our structure to make his position a full time position.
Here is an excerpt from the approved Kalamazoo Board motion. It does a very good job of capturing the benefits of our (and soon to be their) form of township governance:
“The positions of the Township manager and Financial director would:
- provide continuity from election to election assuring a stabilizing effect for the efficient Township administrative operations and procedures,
- professionally address the complexity and sophistication of urban Township operations including an $8 million general fund budget serving nearly 22,000 residents and
- would assure the implementation of policies and directives of the Township Board.”
One of their Trustee’s stated:
“This proposal is the best chance for professionally managing Township Operations.”
In 1998 Oakland Township Supervisor Joan Buser (who has a Masters Degree in Public Administration) worked with the Board to change our governance structure away from the “Strong Supervisor” form of governance to the current form of governance. She stated in a previous post on this matter:
- “During my tenure I met with many supervisors in Oakland County. Very few were qualified for their position.
- The results can be seen most dramatically in the zoning ordinances and ordinance compliance.
- When you drive through the townships that lacked good supervisors you can see what happened when a supervisor was inexperienced and there was no professional manager to help.
- Once a development occurs that is not compliant with township ordinances you have that eyesore forever.
- Before running for office, I had worked thirteen years in various capacities for Oakland Township.
- Holding a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, I did not need a manager, because I was, effectively, a professional manager and an elected Supervisor.
- Very few citizens have such qualifications. That is why a qualified manager is needed to make things run properly.
- The Board sets the goals for the township, and the manager facilitates the implementation of these goals.”
Many of her points are the same as those expressed by the Kalamazoo Board members. Their current Supervisor, Ronald Reid, was a strong supporter, and champion, for making the change in their community.
I strongly suggest that you watch the following video from Kalamazoo Township’s December meeting. The proposal passed in a 5 to 2 vote. Their clerk and one trustee were in the minority. In the clerk’s comments, he raised a potential concern where he could support the proposal. It is precisely a reason why we do not want a Strong Supervisor form of governance.
Joan Buser has a great mind and was a visionary!
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? This year’s township elections have several candidates who appear to support going back to the “Strong Supervisor” form of governance. If re-elected, current Supervisor Gonser will continue to push for making his position a full time position, despite the fact that he does not have the training to “professionally address the complexity and sophistication of urban Township operations” as stated in Kalamazoo’s proposal.
Trustee candidate Lana Mangiapane gave a presentation at the recent ‘Meet and Greet’ in which she claimed Joan Buser hired a professional manager because:
“With retirement on the horizon and wishing to become part time, Mrs. Buser hired Mr. Jim Creech to be the Township Manager in 1998.”
Lana failed to either understand, or acknowledge, the wisdom and fore-site Joan Buser had for the needs of our rapidly growing Township.
This website has posted the position and rationale of many Board candidates on this issue. One candidate, Jeaneane Landers, is still studying the issue.
The following candidates have declined to provide their position and rationale on this issue:
- Terry Gonser – Supervisor Candidate
- Andy Zale – Supervisor Candidate
- Judy Workings – Clerk Candidate
- Jayson Corey – Trustee Candidate
- Lana Mangiapane – Trustee Candidate
The absentee ballots will be going out on June 29, 2016 in the mail. Please consider the candidates responses (or their lack of response) when you vote.