Vacant Storefronts, Tax Proposals Take Center Stage in Chesterfield Debates
Chesterfield Township candidates running in the November election squared off Thursday during debates at Municipal Offices on Sugarbush.
Attracting business and funding police and fire were priorities Thursday during Chesterfield Township candidate debates.
In a series of taped segments in municipal offices, township candidates spoke of their accomplishments and their goals if elected in November. The Anchor Bay Chamber of Commerce and The Voice newspaper sponsored the event moderated by Brian Powers.
"I believe we can lower taxes and still provide the same services," Berry said.
Uglis said she's been working with township planning and zoning employees to help bring in business. She said she would like to see former Sebille Manor converted to a dog park at the Sugarbush entrance and a veterans' cemetery at the Donner entrance.
"I would like to see our township have its own zip code," she said, adding "we need our own identity."
While Uglis said she believes the community is business-friendly, Berry disagreed.
"We have an outrageous water tap-in fee that's been in the news recently," she said of litigation between the township and a local business.
Challenger Kathy Elliott said she will push for education advances, technology strides and commercial and residential growth if elected.
"When you hear the slogan: Make Macomb Your Home, I want you to think: Choose Chesterfield," she said.
Incumbent Linda Hartman pointed to strides in the Treasurer's Office, including efforts to accommodate struggling seniors.
While Elliott says the township doesn't succeed in business relations, Hartman disagrees.
"I believe we are friendly to businesses," Hartman said.
Many of the candidates spoke of the need to pass the proposed police and fire tax hikes on the November ballot to ensure public safety. When asked what the board would do if voters rejected it, Bell said the township would have examine financial options like grants and pay raises would not be feasible, but added, "I don't know what choice we have other than pass the millage."
Police Chief Bruce Smith previously said without the tax increase, he expects major departmental cuts—such as losing at least 17 officers—on the force.
Anderson called for the township to keep police and fire services as opposed to contracting through the Macomb County Sheriff's Office.
"Chesterfield fire and police must remain under township control," he said.
Joseph said the next board needs stronger leaders who challenge expenses and bring fresh problem-solving ideas.
"I think the current board has really done nothing to make sure we don't come back to voters in another four years," he said of tax increase requests.
DeMuynck, whose background is in law enforcement, says this board examined all the options before putting the matter on the ballot.
"We have not done excessive spending," he said.
Gagleard, a Tea Party conservative, said she was outraged as a resident when the three top-elected officials requested major pay raises last year when there financial hardships were on the horizon. They withdrew the requests soon after but noted the raises would have been for the new board.
The candidates also discussed filling vacancies, attracting business to the community and enhancing recreation.
"We have a lot of empty storefronts," Nelson said. "I think when businesses thrive, people are attracted to come here."
He also said the township should aim to create bike paths.
Four candidates will be elected to the board in the general election.