BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
The Independence Township Board of Trustees meeting on September 7 was Pat Kittle’s last as township supervisor after he announced his resignation and retirement this past summer, effective with the conclusion of the September 7 meeting.
The board held a special meeting on August 26 to appoint a new supervisor, but no motion passed. The same thing happened August 31 and then for the third time on September 7, leaving, for now, the position of township supervisor currently vacant.
“I’m not going to vote for one candidate who we are still paying out of pocket for, because of legacy costs,” said Township Trustee Terri Nallamothu. “Those are over now, so I thank Pat Kittle for that. Secondly, I’ve always been about ‘follow the money’ and transparency in politics. Things do not function without the money. I don’t care how sociable you are, if your books aren’t good, everything else falls apart. It comes down to the finances for me, and that’s what I’m going on.”
“The person I’m supporting (current township trustee Paul Brown) is very action-oriented and has expressed multiple times that he wants to do what’s best for the township,” added Township Trustee Ron Ritchie. “When I started running for this position in 2012, the township was in dire need of leadership. With Pat stepping down, obviously, there is going to be a leadership void. I think whoever we put in his place needs to be able to be a leader and take action, not somebody that is just a placeholder or keep the seat warm until the next election.”
The Township Board has 45 days (until October 24) from the date after Kittle’s resignation to appoint a new supervisor. If that is not successful, then Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown has five days to officially call an election, which would most likely be held on May 3, 2022. The township would foot the bill for that election, which may run $40,000-$50,000 minimum, according to Independence Township Clerk Cari Neubeck.
The parties would then be charged with selecting a candidate to run in that election that would fill the vacant seat until November 20, 2024.
In addition to Brown, current Township Trustee Jose Aliaga and former Township Supervisor Dale Stuart, who served in that role from November 1992 to November 2004 in addition to being a township trustee for eight years prior, are qualified candidates the board can appoint.
Brown was Kittle’s choice to succeed him, while several residents spoke at the September 7 meeting in support of Aliaga.
Nallamothu, Robert Bauer and Mark Petterson were also candidates to replace Kittle but dropped out at previous meetings.
On September 7, Ritchie made the motion to appoint Brown, Nallamothu seconded, but Treasurer Rachel Loughrin, Neubeck and Aliaga voted “no,” and the motion failed.
“I would like to thank each and every resident of Independence Township and all of the board members that I have had the pleasure and honor to serve with for helping make the last nine years of my duty here in Independence as special and as impactful as it was,” Kittle said at the conclusion of the September 7 meeting before signing off for the last time. “This is a great community, but I got to tell you, I’m a little disturbed by the board’s inability to come to some consensus this evening. I guess that’s something that you all are going to have to live with and something the entire township is going to have to pay for.”
With no supervisor to run board meetings, a chairperson will be appointed for each meeting by the board of trustees. The next scheduled regular meeting is Tuesday, September 21 at 6 p.m. at Township Hall.