Rochester Hills' Candidates and November 2nd, 2021 Election Info!

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021, is fast approaching and with it another election cycle is upon us. Rochester Hills residents want to know what is on the ballot and who/what should I vote for?

This fall’s ballot is without national, state, or county selections. The choices are all city contained and offer an opportunity to focus solely on our city government.

Residents of Rochester Hills will be voting for the following…

1) City Council Member At Large

2) City Council Member District 1

3) City Council Member District 4

4) Two Library Board Members

5) Bond Proposal

There are a total of seven candidates vying for three City Council positions and two Library Board seats. We asked all candidates seeking office to submit a Candidate Profile (500-word max) describing why Rochester Hills residents should vote for them. We begin with the City Council seats.

Rochester Hills City Council

The City Council is made up of seven members elected on a nonpartisan basis for a four-year term. Three members are elected at-large and are voted on by the entire city. Four members are elected by their specific district geography.

Councilmembers must have been a resident of the city for one-year prior to their filing date. Those representing a district must maintain residency in the district during their term in office. Councilmembers are term-limited and prohibited from seeking reelection after having served two full consecutive terms, though they may contend via “write-in”.

The four Districts are represented with shaded colors.

Candidates for Rochester Hills City Council
At Large

Matthew Berard, Candidate for City Council At-Large
Candidate Profile submission...

I grew up in Rochester Hills, I went to school here, and now I am raising my own family here. My wife, Kelly, and I have two beautiful boys: Jack, 4, and Charlie, 2. I am running for City Council because, as a proud father, I am passionate about the future of Rochester Hills and I want to ensure it is a great place to live for generations to come.

I attended Meadowbrook Elementary, West Middle School, and graduated from Rochester High School. I have a B.A. in Political Science from Oakland University and a J.D. from the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law. I am a product liability defense lawyer at Bowman and Brooke LLP.

I have a long track record of public service. I earned my Eagle Scout award in 2003, and before I became a lawyer, I worked for the YMCA, the Prosecutor’s Office, and Oakland County Circuit Court. If elected to City Council, I would bring my commitment to public service, my background as a lawyer, the independence to scrutinize (not rubber-stamp) proposals, bold and diverse ideas, and my experiences as a 24-year resident of the City.

If elected to City Council, my top priorities are:

1. Over-Development
Over-development has eroded our greenspaces and caused related issues that go unaddressed. We cannot continue to over-develop the City, then widen the roads as our solution. This is not sustainable. I will require strict adherence to zoning designations, established setbacks and ordinances. While it may be more expensive to re-use developed properties, I would encourage it because my focus as a City Councilmember is to preserve our community for generations to come, not to maximize the profits of developers. Along these lines, I want to purchase natural priority 1 area land solely for the purpose of preserving it as green space by using the millions of dollars that remain of the $10 million green space millage (passed by voters in 2005)

2. Infrastructure
There are infrastructure issues that we know are coming that will require action. We need Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations as automakers continue to announce a shift to EV’s. Further, the City is aging and will need more investments in roads, sewer and water, trails, and safe bike lanes.

3. Renewable Energy
We should work to incorporate clean and renewable energy at City facilities, use hybrid or electric vehicles for City business, and provide incentives for homeowners and business to use reliable and renewable energy.

I want to personally thank you for taking the time to learn more about both candidates. It is critical to our democracy to have an active and informed electorate. After comparing both candidates, I am confident that my vision for the future of Rochester Hills and my background growing up here makes me the right choice to lead Rochester Hills as a City Council Member At-Large. Finally, I respectfully ask for your vote in this election on November 2 or by absentee ballot.

Matthew Berard

David Walker, Candidate for City Council At-Large
Candidate Profile submission...

For over 34 years, I have called Rochester Hills home. Together with my wife, Kelly, we have raised our family here. This community has provided us the ideal place to live and grow, and I believe strongly in giving back to the community that has been my home.

This year, I am up for reelection on Rochester Hills’ City Council, and I cannot think of a higher honor than continuing to represent the residents of the city I have called home for over three decades.

I have served on city council for the past 3 years, but I have been involved in the community for the past 15 through various volunteer roles, such as the Clinton River Watershed Council and the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce, where I still serve as an Ambassador.

I believe in service above self and have been living by that through my volunteer work in Rochester Hills. Currently, I serve on several boards, including the Paint Creek Trailways Commission, the Older Persons’ Commission, the Rochester Auburn Hills Community Coalition, and the Chamber Foundation. I am also a member of the Rochester Rotary.

I might be familiar to many of you. I have been providing commentary for the past 10 years as one of the announcers for the Rochester Area Hometown Christmas Parade and have been the emcee for numerous Ribbon Cutting ceremonies, welcoming new business to our area.

In addition to my volunteer roles, I am a real estate agent at Brookview Realty in downtown Rochester, and as a Realtor, I have had the privilege of seeing the community through the eyes of the new and existing residents who have chosen to call this city home. My job also allows me to travel the entirety of Rochester Hills. I have been in almost every neighborhood and work with its residents daily. This unique opportunity helps me to represent those individuals with greater insight.

As a member of council, I remain committed to focusing on three main issues.

Firstly, public safety. Rochester Hills has been named the safest small city in America. We need to continue to strive for this rating by looking for innovative and creative ways to keep the residents safe, such as continuously evaluating the effectiveness of police and fire services. We need to provide the equipment and resources necessary to maintain the safety of our residents.

Secondly, quality of life. Rochester Hills is a beautiful and vibrant city. We must continue to attract and retain businesses in high-growth sectors. Working to drive up property values and keep our unemployment low are also high priorities as is continuing to invest in the things our residents love, like our parks and green space.

And last, but not least, fiscal responsibility. Balanced budgeting and capital improvement planning through conservative financial stewardship are important to continue to build fund balance. We need to find ways to reduce expenses by collaborating with local stakeholders to secure private funding to invest in our infrastructure, parks, and green space.

Candidate for Rochester Hills City Council
District 1

Carol Morlan, Candidate for City Council District 1
Candidate Profile submission...

Carol Morlan did not submit a Candidate Profile. Rochester.Life reached out to Carol multiple times via email and phone. Rochester.Life also confirmed with the City Clerk’s office that we had the proper contact information for Carol.

Carol Morlan is running unopposed.

Candidate for Rochester Hills City Council
District 4

Ryan Deel, Candidate for City Council District 4
Candidate Profile submission...

My wife, Melinda, and I have lived in Rochester Hills since 2003. We are the proud parents of twin sons, Jack and Brennan, who attend Rochester Community Schools.

I have a Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School. I have been an attorney for 20 years. I have been a judicial staff attorney for the Oakland County Probate Court for 15 years.

I am active in our community and have a record of public service. I was appointed to the Rochester Hills Public Library Board in 2014 and elected to serve a full term in 2015. I was elected to the Rochester Hills City Council, representing District 4, in November 2017. In December 2019, my city council colleagues elected me city council president.

During my first term on council, the city developed the Auburn Road Corridor project, including the construction of the city’s first public splash pad, and Innovation Hills – the city’s newest park. I look forward to continue serving the residents of Rochester Hills and ensuring the high-level of service they have come to expect.

Rochester Hills Public Library Board of Trustees

The Board is responsible for the operation of the library, planning its budget, growth, policymaking, and obtaining funds. The Board consists of six members elected by and representing the Rochester Hills community. Though located within the City of Rochester, the city has no elected officials on the Board. The City of Rochester and Oakland Township are represented by a non-voting liaison at Board meetings. There is no compensation for Library Board Trustees.

The Board appoints a Library Director as the executive officer of the library, responsible for daily administration. When asked what voters need to know, Juliane Morian, Library Director said, “It’s best to focus on the library's mission statement set by the board of trustees: Rochester Hills Public Library empowers people to explore and create with resources that enlighten, educate, entertain, and inform.”

Two of the six board member terms are ending, the terms of Gregg Christenson and Suba Subbarao. Greg has decided to not seek reelection, while Suba has decided to seek reelection.

There are a total of three candidates contending for the two open positions.

We asked all candidates seeking office to submit a Candidate Profile (500-word max) describing why Rochester Hills residents should vote for them. Here they are in their own words…

Candidates for Rochester Hills Public Library Board of Trustees

Melinda N. Deel, Candidate for Rochester Hills Public Library Board of Trustees
Candidate Profile submission...

My husband, Ryan, and I have lived in Rochester Hills for over 18 years. We are the proud parents of twin sons, Jack and Brennan, who attend Rochester Community Schools. I have a Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law. I have been a practicing attorney for 20 years, with my own practice in Rochester Hills.

I have been an avid library patron since 2003. My family and I have truly enjoyed and benefitted from the outstanding library programs. I am a member of the Friends of the Library and Rochester Rotary. I am also the vice president of the Oakland County Bar Association. My experience as an attorney, community involvement and board experience, enable me to serve as a strong advocate for our library. I have the skills and experience necessary to work with the Rochester Hills Public Library board, director and staff to keep our library the first-rate community resource our residents have come to expect.

As a member of the Board of Trustees, my top priorities would be the following:

The Rochester Hills Public Library is a treasure in our community. It provides our residents with countless resources, exceptional programming, and a premium selection of physical and virtual reading materials. It would truly be an honor to serve on the board of such an outstanding organization.

As a member of the Board of Trustees, my top priorities would be the following:

1) FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: Provide high-quality services while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

2) EXEMPLARY PROGRAMMING: Provide entertaining programs that facilitate education and discussion about popular topics and foster lifelong learning.

3) EXPAND MATERIALS COLLECTION & ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY: Provide a state-of-the-art library with unique and dynamic services such as the makerspace, online materials and the innovative items collection. Foster accessibility through mobility scooters, magnifiers, community bookmobile, drive-thru service and mini-branches in retirement residences and senior centers.

Julianne Reyes, Candidate for Rochester Hills Public Library Board of Trustees
Candidate Profile submission...

Hello! My name is Julianne Reyes and I’m running for the Rochester Hills Library Board. Most citizens realize that a library is the “heart of a community”. The Rochester Hills library is a place where people gather to share their love of books and also to partake of the wonderful events libraries have to offer.

When our children were young, there were always a plethora of activities to engage in at the library: whether it be cultural and interest-based or just plain fun. As a young mom, it was a lifeline to the world of adults, sharing ideas and creativity. For my children it was a place to connect with new friends and to fall in love with reading! As my four children grew, they enjoyed the summer reading club. Often, we would come home with stacks of books and the kids always loved the prizes and free books for achieving their goals. We love going to the used books sale and coming home with bags of books to love and cherish. We have also had the opportunity to use the Michigan Activity passes to go to museums and art centers.

All of this was possible because of the wonderful opportunities at our wonderful Rochester Hills library. In addition, as a board member for a non-profit organization, I have been fortunate to be able to use the library as a meeting place. I love that the Book Mobile is an invaluable resource for those that cannot make it to our beautiful library in Downtown Rochester. These are just a few of the reasons the library is not only the heartbeat of this community, but a critical resource and lifeline for many people.

As a Rochester Hills resident for 15 years, I have had the joys of receiving from our library, and now I would like to give back. I believe strong family values lends itself to keeping the library a place where the community feels welcomed, supported, and treasured. My background in business (BA and MBA degrees and work experience in Finance and Human Resources) can assist with the fiscal responsibility of the Board of Trustees. My participation for 17 years on the board (and president for two years) of a non-profit organization; president of Paint Creek Trail Speech Masters for the last six months and seven years as a Prayer Team leader at church has provided the necessary leadership skills to work together and get things done on the Library Board.

Over the past few years, the world has felt a separation of community. Our library is a place to help repair and renew. I know with my experience, passion and leadership I can help strengthen our neighborhoods and continue to build our communities through the library. These reasons and more are why I am asking for your vote on November 2nd for the Rochester Hills Library Board and let’s move forward to keep this precious “heart of our community” beating for years to come.

Suba Subbarao, Candidate for Rochester Hills Public Library Board of Trustees
Candidate Profile submission...

It is with great eagerness and enthusiasm that I look forward to continuing my tenure on the Rochester Hills Public Library’s Board of Trustees.

Even after more than four decades in the United States, when someone asks me what I value the most in this country, I always say, “The libraries!” And I mean that very sincerely. Upon moving to Rochester Hills in 1988, one of my first acts was to visit the library and obtain my library card. In the past thirty-three years, I (and my family) have luxuriated in the library’s trove of books and have taken advantage of its many resources. I visit the main library and the Bookmobile at least once a week, have requested and recommended books for acquisition and even topics for community presentations, (but defer to our librarians’ professional judgment), checked out a ukulele, used the study rooms to tutor non-native speakers (via the Oakland Literacy Council), urged my Children’s Literature students to explore the Youth collection, and so on and so on.

In addition to my personal passion for the library, I also believe that a library, and ours in particular, is the heart of a community. It is wonderful to see how inclusive RHPL is, how it embraces diversity, how it reaches out to various groups, and how innovative it is in offering its services. I am committed to upholding its stated mission of empowering “people to explore and create with resources that enlighten, educate, entertain, and inform.” I proudly support its declaration on its website: “Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL) provides life-long learning opportunities, instills a love of reading, and offers equal access to information.”

As a trustee, I stay current about issues and trends in the library world, by using the resources my trusteeship automatically provides me—membership in the Michigan Library Association and United for Libraries. Guiding and monitoring the library’s activities as a trustee and steward of taxpayer dollars is an honor, indeed.

The 30 years of experience I have gained at my “day job,” teaching at a post-secondary institution, has taught me the value of empathy and inclusiveness. I help my students consider multiple perspectives before making up their own mind on issues. I have learned to be a careful, impartial listener. And my ten-year tenure as department chair required me to be organized, assess sometimes-conflicting priorities, and do my best to do what is right for the various stakeholders. These are all qualities I will call upon to fulfill my responsibilities as Board trustee.

Proposal to Re-purpose Expired Older Persons' Commission Bond Millage for Parks

Below is the text for the only proposal on the ballot.

In November 2000, City of Rochester Hills voters authorized a 20-year bond proposition to fund land acquisition and construction of the Older Persons’ Commission (OPC) building. The OPC bond debt has been fully paid and retired in Fiscal Year 2021. It is proposed that the 0.1660 mills that was levied for Fiscal Year 2021 to pay the final year of OPC bond debt be re-purposed and replaced with an equivalent tax levy of up to 0.1660 mills for 10 years, beginning in Tax Year 2021 for Fiscal Year 2022 and continuing through Tax Year 2030 for Fiscal Year 2031, inclusive, to be used for improving and enhancing the City’s park system facilities.This millage re-purposing will not increase the overall tax rate from the prior tax year level.

Therefore, shall the City of Rochester Hills re-purpose and replace the expired 0.1660 mills tax levy that was used to retire the OPC bond debt with an equivalent tax levy of up to 0.1660 mills ($0.1660 per $1,000 of taxable value) on the taxable value of all property assessed for taxes in the City for 10 years, beginning in Tax Year 2021 for Fiscal Year 2022 and continuing through Tax Year 2030 for Fiscal 2031, inclusive, to be used for improving and enhancing the City’s park system facilities? This will generate an estimated $647,962 in tax revenues if levied in full in the first year.

Additional Information you need to know about the Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021 Election

Rochester Hills City Clerk, Leanne Scott

Rochester Hills City Clerk, Leanne Scott, has a keen pulse on election activity. She has served on the City of Rochester Hills staff for almost 24 years, holding the Deputy City Clerk role for eight years before taking the lead as City Clerk in April of this year.

Rochester.Life (RL) asked Leanne a few questions on the minds of voters.

How do you address voters concerns regarding election integrity?

Rochester Hills residents can be confident we take election integrity very seriously. We implement many steps to ensure your vote is secure. There is a clear process to everything we do, whether it’s signature checking, or maintaining correct voting lists by cross-checking with Michigan’s qualified voter file. We’re linked to the Secretary of States office, if somebody moves, we get that right away. We take an oath to ensure everything is done correctly and accurately.

The State of Michigan has made it easier to vote absentee. Who can vote absentee?

With the passing of State Proposal 18-3 in November 2018 any registered voter can submit an application to request an absentee ballot.

Can you explain the Permanent Absent Voter Application list?

There is an overload of information and lots of mis-information that is confusing people. People get confused between an application to get an absentee ballot and the ballot itself. If someone has requested to be on our Permanent Absent Voter Application list the following steps will happen…

1) Prior to the election, you will automatically receive an application for an absentee ballot.

2) You MUST complete, sign and return the application to our office. This may be done in-person, via United States Postal Service, or by placing the application in the drop box located in the parking lot of City Hall.

3) Upon receipt of the completed, signed application, my staff will verify each and every signature.

4) Once a signature has been verified, we will begin the process of issuing an absentee ballot.

Will you eventually get rid of physical precincts and have everyone vote absentee?

We would never try to eliminate the physical precinct. Many residents prefer to show-up at the polls on election day. Aside from our equipment, the highest costs are staffing the precincts. We have consolidated from 32 precincts to 25. Each precinct is required by law to have a minimum of three workers, we resource beyond that for better service. We may run up to 250 staff supporting this election, in a Presidential election it could run to 350.

Any last thoughts for voters?

I encourage residents to call the clerk’s office if they have any questions or concerns regarding elections. We appreciate the community reaching out to us. If you want to learn more about the election process, then please sign-up to work it. You can sign-up for classes, it’s the best election education you can get.

The Brains Behind A Smooth Election! Rochester Hills City Clerk, Leanne Scott (top of stairs in B/W print), and her amazing team at the City Clerk's Office!

Oct 5, 2021, Rochester.Life Staff
Updated Oct 26, 2021

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