Friday, November 04, 2011

Thoughts on Elections in Troy, MI

This coming Tuesday the citizens of Troy, MI, the community I call home, will go to the polls.  We will elect three city council members and a mayor.  The choices are pretty stark and the future of the community may be at stake.  I don't mean to be alarmist, it's just that the citizens of the community need to decide what direction the city will take.  Although these offices are non-partisan, it appears that there are factions in the community that are taking a partisan perspective, and by partisan I mean, making this city a 1-party city, where only one perspective matters.  Now, as far as I'm concerned, it really doesn't matter whether one is Republican or Democrat.  The important question is whether the people running for office have the best interests of the city in mind.  That is the criterion upon which I'm making my decisions and my recommendations.

There are eight candidates for city council.   From what I've read and observed in recent months, three of these candidates represent the most extreme elements of our community's political scene.  I don't think they truly represent the vast majority of the populace, but they're well organized and apparently well-financed (based on the slick mailings and numerous signs).   There are five others, who range across the political spectrum from conservative to relatively liberal (at least left of center).  While I'm on the left side of the center mark, I'm not making my decisions based on political ideology, but based on whom I think would best represent our community.   I don't know all the candidates, though I do know a couple of them, and I'm comfortable with at least four of the candidates -- Amin Hashmi (a friend with whom I do interfaith work), Jim Campbell, Neil Yashinsky, and Bruce Bloomingdale.  Three of the four have been endorsed by TRUST, a community group with whom I have affinity with.  I take their recommendations and endorsements seriously, though at the end of the day I'll make my decision based on my own criteria. So, I think any of the four would do well and I'd be happy with them on the City Council.  The fifth candidate, Allen D'aoust, I simply don't know enough about.  He's probably a nice guy, who appears to be on the conservative end of the spectrum but he doesn't appear to be aligned with any particular faction.  So, if you're more conservative than me, he might be worth looking at.   The other three candidates -- Doug Tietz, who is involved in anti-affirmative action efforts nationally, Ed Kempen, and Dave Henderson (both involved with the right wing Tea Party affiliated Troy Citizens United, represent the extreme end of the political spectrum and I'm concerned that should they gain control of the council it could undermine the viability of the city.  They're positions are  troublesome, not because they're conservative, but because they're extremist -- and often seemingly uninformed.      

For the mayor's position, the choices are stark.  Robin Beltramini is a conservative Republican, but she is willing to listen to the community at large.  She's experienced and well regarded throughout the state and nationally.  I might not always agree with her, but I think she'll make a fine mayor.  Her opponent, Janice Daniels, is a political operative and leader of one of the most retrograde political groups around.  In past campaigns, including the recent millage efforts she and her group have engaged in rampant disinformation efforts that have tried to confuse voters rather than inform them.  They lost in the last round, but that doesn't mean they've ended their efforts.  So, I would be very concerned if she should become mayor.  

What is my concern with the three other candidates for council and the mayoral candidate?  Well, here's the issue.  They don't seem in touch with reality.  The continually make claims that we can have full police protection, 7-day a week library, 24-hour plowing, all the quality of life elements of the past, and we don't have to raise any revenues.  Being a home owner/buyer, I know that my house has gone down in value and as a result my taxes have gone down.  While the costs of services haven't trended downward, the amount of revenue available to the city has gone down.  From what I've seen the city of Troy, the largest city in Oakland County, is fiscally sound.  It has a great library, which serves a large number of patrons, at a comparatively low cost.  Just up the road in Rochester, there is a much larger and newer library.  In Clawson to our south they're adding on.  Troy makes due with a rather small building, and a much reduced staff.  The point is -- choices have to be made.  

You have your choice between those who understand that you can't have services without funding them and those who haven't gotten the message.  I'm not an alarmist, but I do believe that if the faction aligned with Troy Citizens United gets control of the City Council they will not only gut services but could bankrupt the city.  And for what?  I don't know.  It appears that for at least some of these folks, there is a broader political goal, one aligned with the more extreme elements of the Tea Party.  Some seem to want to use these positions to further their political futures.  

So who will you choose?   

As for me, I'm supporting Robin Beltramini for mayor, Amin Hashmi, Bruce Bloomingdale, and Neil Yashinksy.  I'd be comfortable with Jim Campbell as well, but I have to choose three of four.  In endorsing Amin, I'm breaking with TRUST, but I feel that Amin brings an important voice to our community.  We say we're a diverse community but you don't see that in our city leadership.  Amin has been involved in a number of ways in community life.  I know him and I trust him, even if I might not agree with him on every issue.  Having made my positions known, I just want to say -- If you live in Troy, get informed on the candidates and vote on Tuesday!!

Note:  I am making this recommendation as a private citizen.  My positions do not reflect my congregation or any other group with whom I am affiliated.  


Ellen said...

This is a wonderfully thought out reflection on this election. I understand your support of Amin, as well. I plan to vote for Jim Campbell ... but share your positive impression of Amin. I am hoping that with the name recognition he is building he will build upon it and run in the next election.

Allen D'Aoust said...

Mr. Cornwall,
Even though I'm new to the political scene, I’m not new to the Leadership role. I am a Disabled American Veteran from the war in Afghanistan. I think outside of the box and I am fresh blood to our city council position. I would like to see Saturday hours at our library, along with our cities safety is #1. I will restore honesty and integrity to our city council. Personal integrity is the key to public integrity. As a married, church going man with four children, I not only have personal integrity, but also honesty and loyalty.
Please check out my web site at, Facebook at “Allen for Troy City Council” or call me (248) 643-6003 for any further questions.
Allen D'Aoust
Candidate for Troy City Council

Robert Cornwall said...


Thank you for introducing yourself to me here and I honor your willingness to get involved in this campaign. From what I've heard you have the interests of the community in mind and would serve well.

Allen D'Aoust said...

Mr. Cornwell,
Thank you. My wife is a life time resident and I have four children growing up here; I have a vested interest in making this community #1. I lead by example, open minded and hard working. I will do my due diligence for the people of Troy and my family.
Allen D'Aoust

Brian said...

Bob - This is such a wonderful and appropriate use of public discourse. For hard-working folks, it is often difficult finding helpful information about local elections. I consider myself moderately informed, yet I have a difficult time finding a single location for local election info. I want to read it myself, but also share it for others (as you have here). You have put in the work to find it and lay it out so others can see clearly. While laying out your bias (a good thing!) you leave room for people to come to their own conclusions. Peace my brother in Christ.

Robert Cornwall said...

Yesterday's results in Troy were a disappointment, and they are disturbing in many ways.

That said, I'm a realistic optimist, and so I will continue to advocate for what I believe is right and just in the community. I will pray that those elected will have wisdom that will overcome ideology and lead to a concern for the common good of all citizens of Troy, not just those who chose to vote for them.