BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
After eight and a half years, Pat Kittle is resigning as the Independence Township supervisor for all the right reasons.
At the top of his list is his well-being.
“I’m tired,” said Kittle. “I shouldn’t have run for a third term (in 2020). I was starting to get tired then. I can’t turn this place off. I am up virtually every night at 2, 3, 4 o’clock every morning thinking about things and contracts, what-if scenarios, and millions of dollars worth of projects. To be honest, I’m worried about my health. I’m going to be 67 years old in March and I don’t exactly have a cougar-like physique about myself.
“You know, I have to start thinking about me and I have to start thinking about my best friend, my wife (Kim), and making sure that as I am still mobile and able, I want to enjoy and share my golden years doing things and putting the focus on me and my wife.”
Last year, Kittle ran uncontested in the primary and general elections.
“Why didn’t I leave at the end of my second term?” asked Kittle. “I had a new treasurer (Rachel Loughrin) still learning the ropes and a new clerk (Cari Neubeck), although very experienced, was getting back into the township, and I didn’t think it was fair to the community for me to leave then. Nobody had expressed any interest to be supervisor, and I didn’t think it was in the best interest of the community. We’re getting to a point now where it’s time, it’s just time. Whether it’s on September 8 (his planned last day) or January 1 or March 21 of next year, there is no way I would last to the end of my full four-year term.
“And for that, I am deeply sorry. Call it self-centered, call it selfish, call it whatever you want, it’s time.”
Spending more time at home and travelling with his wife is at the top of Kittle’s priorities once retirement sets in.
“One thing my wife made me promise her was I wouldn’t follow her around the house every day and every waking moment of every day,” laughed Kittle. “We’re both pretty active people. She’s got her book clubs and her golf leagues and has her friends she walks with, but again, it’s time for me to move on. We discussed this extensively and agreed it’s time.”
After Kittle leaves his office in the township, he wants experience to take over as supervisor. He had planned to nominate longtime township resident and board member Paul Brown for the position, as Kittle felt “that was in the best interest of the community,” but added that various members of the elected team indicated this should be opened up for all community members to be considered.
Prior to that development, Kittle had his own idea for the new supervisor, which was to be brought up as regular business at this past Tuesday’s board meeting.
“Our country is a democracy, and the people should govern, something I absolutely agree with, but if we start to go through that process, by law once I resign, I can select and appoint, with board approval, they could be acting as the interim supervisor until the next primary election that comes up in August of 2022,” Kittle said. “There are a lot of moving pieces. This is a $30-million-dollar business operation with 120 full-time employees with hundreds of miles of infrastructure under the ground that nobody sees. There is a lot to it.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to the 37,000 residents for us to take a bunch of applications and essentially nominate somebody and ask them to leave their full-time job for a position that they may or may not win in the primary election next year.”
Earlier this week, Kittle said “any potential candidate should be the unanimous choice by the elected officials for a smooth transition. I cannot get agreement on my transition plan and other candidates’ names are popping up.”
Kittle’s transition plan would have included candidates serving until next August’s primary election.
“They would then have all summer to learn where the $30 million comes and goes and the ebbs and flows of everything through all our directors,” said Kittle. “That way, if they win the general election, they would hit the ground running. I was really lucky when I first ran because I started to meet daily with Bart Clark, who was the acting township superintendent at the time, and we spent hours poring through the books and visiting the departments, particularly before the primary election. It’s more than just figuring out where the bathrooms are – there are a lot of things going on.”
And since 2012, Kittle said he has faced numerous challenges in his role but has faced them all head-on and helped make a positive impact in the township.
“I think one of the biggest things is there was a time a while back when the township’s reputation was struggling a little bit with ‘Tractorgate’ and some of the crazy things that were going on,” Kittle said. “And while the board we had back when I came in did a fantastic job of positioning us from a financial standpoint, they had the misfortune of having to conduct day-to-day business on public access television. It’s tough because there are arguments and things that go on, but we try to do it behind closed doors so that when we come to the board, we pretty much know the direction we’re going. Everything isn’t unanimous, a lot of it is, but we’ve worked things out and asked the tough questions.
“There have been times we’ve pulled things because we weren’t ready. In my opinion, I think that’s how meetings should be held and not turned into The Jerry Springer Show as some members of the community had suggested. I’d like to keep them professional, and I’d like to keep them direct and let people know what we’re doing and just move on.”
On the flip side, Kittle noted he’s very proud of the overall morale of the 120 employees of the township and the growth of the Independence Township Senior Center.
“I’ve got a set of directors in place right now that I would put up against anybody in the county,” said Kittle. “They know their jobs and they’re well-paid, all make more than I do. These are the guys that make things happen. In terms of the senior center, I’m proud of how we were able to take it from the smaller building and expand it to what it is today. I wish we would have had the foresight to make it bigger because I know they’re starting to bust at the seams now that we’ve been able to open up our doors again.”
Kittle also cited 30 miles of road improvements completed in 2022, improved well, sewer and filtration systems, the renovated DPW building, the renovated Brady Lodge, the Renee Przybylski Memorial Spray Park, ballpark renovations at Clintonwood Park and the upcoming playscape at Bay Court Park as other points of satisfaction over his time as supervisor.
“I’m really proud of those things,” Kittle said. “I think the board has been consistent to manage our growth and to provide capital to set our community up to kind of be the gold standard here in northern Oakland County for the next 20 years. We’re well on our way to doing that, and I’d like that gold standard to be maintained.”
As Kittle said he’ll miss the people the most, he’s most elated to look forward to more free time.
“I plan on doing some travelling now the COVID insanity seems to be weaning itself, although this new Delta variant has people spooked again,” said Kittle. “We’ve got some trips to California and we have a timeshare down in Florida, where we’ll spend springtime and the winter months. Then, when we come back for the summer, maybe I’ll actually be able to use the country club I’ve lived in for the last 20 years.”
PHOTO: Pat Kittle has proudly served as Independence Township Supervisor since 2012. Photo by Matt Mackinder