BY MATT MACKINDER & DON RUSH
Three of the seven-member Independence Township Board have or will soon step down, leaving the board nearly half appointed a year and a half before the next election.
Board Supervisor Pat Kittle will keep the township steady, though.
“In light of the recent board turnover, I think it is important to maintain board continuity and stability to ensure Independence Township keeps moving forward,” said Kittle, who was first elected supervisor in 2012. “With the recent retirement announcement by Clerk (Barb) Pallotta, and the anticipated May 21 resignation announcements by Treasurer (Paul) Brown and Trustee (Jim) Tedder, I do plan to run again in 2020 as the township supervisor.”
The current administration has worked hard over the past six-and-a-half years to ensure the township is on solid financial ground, the supervisor said.
Brown, 57, is the second elected township official to make the announcement in as many weeks. Pallotta announced her retirement last week. Public notices for filling both positions are located towards the back of this week’s Clarkston News.
According to lifelong area resident Brown, leaving the township offices wasn’t in his plans, but his previous employer, Lynn Medical Instrument Company in Wixom, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“My intention,” he said last Friday in a phone interview, “was to run for another term and when I finished that, retire. My previous employer contacted me and gave me the opportunity to return to the private sector. It was an offer I could not pass up.”
Brown, a 1980 Clarkston High School graduate will head Lynn Medical as its Chief Operating Officer. When he left that company in 2012, he left as Chief Financial Officer. All in all, Brown said it was a good time to leave the township as many of his goals for improving efficiencies in the township have been achieved.
“What I’m most proud of is the automation of processes we’ve accomplished in my six-plus years in office,” he said. “These changes include establishment of a payment processing account at our bank which allows us to post thousands of payments in a matter of minutes to eBilling for utilities and finally the upcoming implementation of our payment portal. This will allow residents to create an account to manage payments and set up email and text reminders of upcoming payments.”
Brown plans on remaining an Independence Township resident, and down the line, should an opening arise, he would like to return to public service in scaled back manner.
“If a seat opens on the township board, I would like to run for trustee,” he said.
He plans on staying on as treasurer for “30 to 45 days” to ensure a smooth transition for the new treasurer.
“The hardest part of leaving will be that I won’t be working with the great employees of the township any longer. We have a group of dedicated employees who really care about the township and doing things the right way. I have been fortunate to work with them and I have learned a lot from them,” he said.
Tedder said he accepted new employment and as a condition of that employment, he has to resign.
“Company bylaws prohibit me from receiving income from another organization, especially where there may be real or perceived conflicts,” he said.
Tedder was appointed in the fall of 2018 to replace Trustee Andrea Schroeder, who was elected to the state House of Representatives to represent the 43rd District. His appointed started on Jan. 1, 2019.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the board and feel fortunate that we, as a community, have a great and substantial group of leaders at the helm, from part-time to full-time professionals,” he said. “I am looking forward to remaining an engaged and committed citizen of Independence Township and continuing my professional career. I look forward to growing old here and doing everything I can to support local government and continued prosperity for the community that I’m proud to call home.”
The Township Board unanimously accepted Pallotta’s resignation at the May 7 regular meeting.
Kittle, Brown, and trustees Tedder and Jose Aliaga were present at the meeting, as was Pallotta’s husband, Steve Pallotta. Trustees Rachel Loughrin and Ron Ritchie were absent.
“It was a difficult decision,” said Barb Pallotta. “I just want everyone to know how honored I am and how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to serve as the township clerk. I’m not going to lie; it’s been challenging at times, but also rewarding. This board that I’ve worked with for the last eight years has been the best group I have ever worked with in my career, and I’ve worked in several communities.”
Pallotta also thanked her husband publicly “for putting up with me the last eight and a half years.”
“He doesn’t tell me to have a good day when I leave; he tells me to be careful,” she said. “He’s been my rock and my biggest supporter through this whole thing. This man never criticizes anything I do when it comes to work.”
Kittle said he came into his position “not knowing anything,” and that Pallotta was always a bright spot of the job. He addressed her at the meeting.
“You’ve been a rock and the things you’ve done for the township have been nothing short of monumental,” he added. “For policies, whether they would be union or non-union, the discipline that you put into the system when it comes to helping us run an effective meeting, and the recognition that your peers give you, naming you Clerk of the Year not long ago, there are not many people in your field that take this job and not take it as a job, but take it as a profession, a calling. You have set a new standard that I think will be difficult for anyone to keep.
“I don’t know what I’ll do without you, but you’ll be missed.”
Tedder said serving with Pallotta has been “an honor.”
“You mentioned Steve as your rock, but as Pat said, you are a rock to the township,” said Tedder. “When we look to the success of the community, we often look to how we value a park system, a library, school system, walkable space. We can all define that, but I think a big piece of what defines a community is also the quality and the integrity of its elections. There is nothing more sacred than elections with integrity and I can tell you from the moment I first met you and beyond, you’ve never given me a sliver of doubt that you are wholeheartedly and unequivocally dedicated to your position as clerk.
“I rest easily knowing that you’ve been at the helm of our elections and I thank you, Barb. The township is going to miss you.”
Brown noted he and Pallotta had many battles over the years, and joked he was going to vote “no” to accept her resignation.
“Those battles were often Goliath versus David,” said Brown. “I can be persuasive in a confrontation, and there were many times when I was wrong, and Barb stood her ground. That’s not easy to do with me, but in doing so, she helped me change the way I do a lot of things. Her points were correct many times, and I was wrong, and I just appreciate that she stood her ground on those cases and showed me how to do things. I really appreciate everything you did, and I’m going to miss you.”
Aliaga concluded the comments.
“Of course, I’m going to miss you; you’ve done a great job,” he said. “To me, it was an honor to say I was there and worked with the Clerk of the Year. It was a special honor working with you, and it’s a little bit sad for me, but I’m going to miss you a lot.”
Applications for clerk and treasurer are available at www.indtwp.com or at the Township Clerk’s office at 6483 Waldon Center Drive. A Selection Review Committee will review applications and make recommendations to the Township Board. Applications will remain confidential until public interviews are scheduled at a special or regular meeting of the Board of Trustees.
The next clerk will start the position at midnight on July 28 and the term will expire at noon on Nov. 20, 2020. To find out more about the positions, please turn to Page 30 of this week’s edition.
All seven seats on the Township Board will be up for a vote during the general election on Nov. 3, 2020.