BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Clarkston mayoral candidates Eric Haven and incumbent Steven Percival have different approaches to the Charter-defined duty of presiding over City Council meetings,
“To ‘preside’ at City Council meetings, I intend to do so by inviting public opinion, respectfully submitted, planning two hour meetings, and encouraging well researched information so council can make the best decisions possible for the whole city,” Haven said. “I am very low key by nature. I believe good information will reduce controversy and lead to good decision making. That is why we pay professionals and have disciplined committees to advise us.”
Keeping our City Council meetings orderly and fair is important, Percival said.
“Utilizing solid parliamentary practices which level the playing field and keeps council members from dominating a topic,” he said. “Enforcing the city ordinances and following the Charter is very important to me. I have been criticized in the past by some council members for being to stringent in regards to following the laws that, quite honestly, they created. I am ok with changing the ordinances if they are outdated and updating the Charter via a public vote. I work with what is on the books now. My obligation to the citizens of our city is to follow and uphold the rules, laws, and charter that they created and to be fair and equitable across the board.”
His management style is no-nonsense, he said.
“I manage by walking around and seeing how our city is cared for and operating,” he said. “Giving strong suggestions to our city management in order to secure positive enhancements to our city.”
Haven is a former City Council member; estate investment director for Woodside Vision Foundation for 18 years; previously manufacturers representative in the auto industry for 21 years, with 45 years living the community.
“I want to focus on five important aspects of our city, protect our residential zoning; preserve our historic structures; enhance Clarkston’s charm; empower our volunteers, and engage our local businesses,” Haven said.
Percival is retired and has lived in the Clarkston community off and on for most of his life.
“My goal in becoming mayor in this next election is to continue the positive improvements to our city,” he said. “To increase NON-tax revenue in order to reduce taxes levied onto our citizens and businesses. To continue the updating of our Master Plan, Historical District, Parks Plan, and to initiate an overall Depot Park plan. I want to continue to mend the relationships with our stakeholders and encourage solid business practices from them and city administration.”
Haven’s top issues are to Keep the “small town” vibe; Improve parking and walkability; and Influence retail variety.
“We received much public input from our master plan survey,” he said.
The largest land use in Clarkston, by far, is residential, he said, “enforcing our zoning protects this fragile neighborhood community from actions by commercial interests, as seen in Rochester, Lake Orion and Oxford.”
Enhanced charm needs consideration.
“One of the overwhelming themes emerging from our master plan survey was people’s delight in living in Clarkston,” he said. “Over 30% of the respondents said, ‘Keep the small town vibe.’ I intend to heed that direction in two ways, drive implementation of our new master plan with periodic reporting and initiate a citywide beautification program. Both these initiatives will continue to raise our property values.”
Haven would also promote volunteerism.
“Our work in Depot Park over the last 18 months has shown me the power of volunteerism when augmented by our DPW,” he said. “We have many willing volunteers in our village, but they need more than gloves. They often need machinery to succeed in community beautification and in aiding our citizens. For example, the Clarkston Garden Club needs a smarter system to water the memorial planters downtown and the Clarkston Optimist Club needs DPW’s power-auger to dig post holes for new facilities in Depot Park.”
The coordination of volunteers with our DPW will engender happy volunteers, ingenious creativity and fiscally savvy enhancements to our village, Haven said.
“I believe Clarkston is at a tipping point,” Haven said. “Our village is so desirable that outside commercial interests want to have a part in it, even to the extent of breaking our zoning and demolishing historic structures, thereby removing our ambiance. This is counter productive.”
Conversely, he would support development within the zoning ordinance, he said.
“We have the opportunity NOW to protect and enhance our charm. That is why I am running for mayor at this time,” Haven said.
Percival’s top issues include historical preservation via solid representation and fact finding and the Master Plan, to include the current parking study.
“We must also update our Historical District with a updated study of the district and consideration for possible modification to the Historic District. This should be done periodically and has not been updated to my knowledge since the district was established,” he said. “In order to preserve the city’s historic district we must commit the time and resources to update the current district and consider possible expansions based on any new findings.”
The city’s updated Master Plan will also be completed in the next few months and the recommendations for improvements will need to be rolled out and incorporated, he said.
Regarding streets, the new non-tax revenue will be used to begin a five- year Roadway Asset Management Plan to address the condition, repair, maintenance, and rebuilding of our city streets, he said.
“My goal is to do this without the need of any new Special Assessments to our tax payers. The funds that the paid parking initiative have generated should be enough to get this plan started and improvements initiated,” he said.
Regarding future development, the city has a very strong business district currently, he said.
“Our shops and restaurants are thriving and more development is encouraged within the stated guidelines and zoning that is established,” Percival said. “Our Planning Commission, Zoning Board, and HDC are very strong today. We have committed individuals on these boards and commissions that have increased their knowledge over the past two years via training and research. Having solid rules and ordinances in place, adhering to them, and being fair and equitable keeps our business district strong and contained. Expanding the district only when the application adheres to the set guidelines these boards and commissions are sworn to uphold.”
Clarkston is a great destination for our visitors, he said.
“Solid council practices which are delivered fairly and equitably helps us to keep Clarkston a great place to visit, work, and live,” he said. “Balance and fair representation on this council is an absolute necessity in order to raise the confidence from our citizens in knowing that their concerns will be heard and dealt with appropriately. I think that we have changed the character of our city council over the past two years with increased transparency and balanced representation.”