Chesterfield voters to narrow field for supervisors on August 2 – Macomb Daily

The August 2 primary election will narrow the field of candidates vying for the seat of supervisor in Chesterfield Township.

Voters will be asked to select one of two Democratic candidates, as well as one of three Republican candidates, to compete in the race for supervisors this fall. The winner of the November election will serve a partial term ending November 20, 2024.

Incumbent Supervisor Brad Kersten, a Republican who was appointed by the board after former Supervisor Dan Acciavatti left to take up a position in the Macomb County Office of Public Works, is challenged by Michele Fisht and Paul S. Lafata, who have both previously served on the city council.

The Democratic candidates on the ballot are Joe Katich and John P. Spica.

The supervisor’s salary in 2022 is $103,807.77, said Karen Gharbie, assistant to the supervisor.

MediaNews Group sent questionnaires to the two Democratic candidates in the race for supervisors, asking them to provide biographical information, as well as to answer two questions. Each response was limited to 100 words.

• MNG: Biography: Please provide information about yourself, including your age, education, occupation and any previous political experience.

KATICH: Retired Engineering Manager of Ford Motor Co., volunteered to work on the Water Rate Review Committee to establish a fair and consistent method for determining water rates and sewer. I co-wrote a “white paper” on how the ministry should operate, including financial guidelines.

KATICH (submitted photo)

SPICA: Graduated from Oakland University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Communications. I have worked in the private sector for over 23 years with demonstrated success.

• THE VOICE: What makes you the most qualified candidate?

– KATICH: One of my responsibilities at Ford was to preview project requests from various factories before presenting them to a vice president. They had to be technically sound, financially sound within budget, including any possible effects on other engineering or manufacturing products. Chesterfield desperately needs to develop similar procedures before the board votes on proposals presented to it. Having attended most board meetings over the years, it is evident that sometimes political decisions are made that have resulted in budget shortfalls. Paul Lafata is the only other qualified candidate to bring the necessary financial discipline and order to Chesterfield.

– SPICA: I understand what it means to stick to a budget and how to properly manage finances. Providing quality customer service to residents is one of my priorities. With over 23 years of experience in the private sector, I know how important it is to provide excellent customer service. Respecting taxpayers’ money and not wasting it is another priority. I have the skills to move Chesterfield forward. I lead by example; a true leader leads by example.

• MNG: In your opinion, what is the biggest problem facing the canton and, if elected, what would you do to solve it?

– KATICH: Former supervisor Acciavatti, current supervisor Kersten and board members have reduced and nearly eliminated public attendance at Chesterfield meetings. They refuse to answer or engage in dialogue when questioned about agenda items. Questions are now called comments. Time is limited to three minutes for agenda items and five minutes for public comments. There is no response to public comments. Important notices are not posted on the municipality’s website. I would welcome public participation and engagement. Check out my “Joe Katich for Supervisor” website for more.

– SPICA: The biggest problem facing the canton is the budget. The current board-appointed supervisor has been spending money and using fuzzy math since his appointment. Residents get ripped off at every town meeting. The Township of Chesterfield currently has an annual operating deficit. This means that the township spends more money in any given year than we receive. Each time a budget amendment is made, the board-appointed supervisor adds more money to the deficit. My plan is to be fiscally responsible, live within our means, and listen to what residents want.

MNG sent questionnaires to the three Republican candidates in the race for supervisors, asking them to provide biographical information, as well as to answer two questions. Each response was limited to 100 words.

• MNG: Biography: Please provide information about yourself, including your age, education, occupation and any previous political experience.

FICHT: 63 years old. Retired after 40 years as administrative assistant/legal secretary to a wealth planning consultancy. Served on the Board of Directors as a Trustee from 2008-2012. Previous experience on Planning Commission, Zoning Appeals Board, Beautification Committee and Election Commission.

FICHT (submitted photo)
FICHT (submitted photo)

KERSTEN: 56 years old. Current supervisor. Retired from Chesterfield Township Police/Fire as Director of Public Safety in July 2021 after more than 30 years as an officer in 1989. A/A degree, MCC; baccalaureate, baker; Masters, EMU. Past President of the Macomb County and Southeast Michigan Police Chiefs Associations.

KERSTEN (submitted photo)
KERSTEN (submitted photo)

LAFATA: 73 years old. Positions in the private sector: engineering manager, plant manager, programme/project manager, design and development manager for major automotive suppliers. Inventor, two US patents. Chesterfield Water Rates Advisory Council Member, 2016. Chesterfield Township Treasurer, 2016-2020. US Army Veteran in Vietnam 1968-1969.

• MNG: What makes you the most qualified candidate?

– FICHT: I already have 4 years of experience on the board of directors serving residents and the community. I have served on the planning commission, zoning appeal board, election commission, beautification committee, served as liaison with the library board, and assisted the election clerk during my four years on council. I’m a budget fanatic and helped council keep the township in the dark for four years during one of the worst recessions. Employees are valuable assets to the board and the community. During my previous tenure, I maintained a good working relationship with all employees.

– KERSTEN: My career in law enforcement and emergency services has allowed me to have access to the vision and functioning of the township for more than 30 years. I have had a front row seat to witness the expansion of the township and the demands placed on our community on many levels. Having a working knowledge of the historical past to current issues facing the township positions me to offer a unique perspective to lead. My leadership abilities provide clear direction; in collaboration with other elected officials, will always work towards public participation, public transparency and motivated initiatives that work for residents.

LAFATA (photo submitted)
LAFATA (photo submitted)

– LAFATA: I documented managerial skills in: annual budget process, profit and loss responsibilities, program/project and risk management, problem solving, collective bargaining, improvement process continuous, data-driven decision making. I have the proven ability to transform manufacturing facilities with 350-450 hourly and 50-90 salaried employees from an operating loss to a profit through my dedication, leadership by example, and earning the respect and the support of my employees. I understand the difference between a balanced budget and a budget deficit. Efficiency and utilization are not just political buzzwords, they are indicators of operational performance.

• MNG: In your opinion, what is the biggest problem facing the canton and, if elected, what would you do to solve it?

– FICHT: The infrastructure of the canton has always been paid for by the promoters who buy and develop the land. I am against the township council bonding $13 million at residents’ expense for infrastructure at the north end of the township. I would put the burden on the developers and not on the residents. We have no director or deputy director at the DPW. I would hire a qualified person to lead the DPW. Morale in the township offices has never been lower. I would meet all the ministries and give them all my support.

– KERSTEN: You can’t list just one “biggest” problem. Most of them are interdependent and affect several domains. Development/growth sparks topics for our community to address, streets/roads, water/sewer, traffic, and public safety. The ability to manage growth and maintain a high level of services to meet demand is constant. Maintaining a low tax rate, along with other provider services, is essential to keeping our township in a stable and prosperous position. Having a safe community that allows everyone to live and travel freely, and to enjoy all amenities, is the goal of my management principles, as well as serving the residents.

– LAFATA: Budget deficits and bond debt: Understanding the current state of the economy, how it affects residents personally. Along with increasing operational costs and non-essential expenses. Chesterfield’s financial viability is threatened. Dependent on management, leadership and honesty. Management is simple. There are two main tasks: A set of policies/procedures to operate with a defined budget to operate within the framework. Leadership is a capacity that a person either has or does not have. A true leader leads by example. True leaders do not take outside direction for sewage projects or seek political approval. Leaders hold themselves accountable. Honesty is always the best policy.

Denise W. Whigham