by CYNTHIA KMETT
As is their tradition, the League of Women Voters-Troy Area hosted a forum last Thursday for residents to get acquainted with the seven candidates – incumbents Ellen Hodorek, Ed Pennington and Paul McCown, as well as contenders Kumar Giri, Mark Gunn, David Hamilton and Sunil Sivaraman – and find out were they stand on issues. Only three seats are up for grabs on November 7.
Asked why they wanted the job, Kumar Giri, said he had learned how much local government can change peoples’ lives and wants to see the city keep families first.
Mark Gunn said he was concerned why some properties were sitting vacant or in disrepair and thought there might be a way to correct that situation. He added that city services are phenomenal and wants to see Troy stay that way in the future. A Walsh grad, he said it was time to step up and provide leadership.
A Troy boy, literally, David Hamilton attended Martell, Smith, and Troy High before heading off to the University of Michigan to become an electrical engineer. Today, he’s more into smart cars and programming them. With patents held and pending, David wants to make sure Troy is the most technologically advanced city in Metro Detroit.
Ellen Hodorek notes that as a 28- year resident who lived, worked and volunteered in Troy, she has a vested interest in keeping the community strong. She promises to bring a politically independent voice (as all members are supposed to do in this nonpartisan position) and listen to multiple perspectives on each issue.
Paul McCown who is the chief financial officer for Dataspeed Inc, which manufactures self-driving test vehicles for the engineering community, believes that his analytical reasoning, professional experience, and financial acumen will help guide the city as we continue to progress and grow. “I believe I should give back to the community that has given me so much,” he adds.
Ed Pennington, whose family business has been a staple in Troy for 50 years, concurs that giving back is important. The City of Troy has been great to me and my family, he says. A five-year member of council, he says this group has worked with a dedicated city administration team to ensure that taxes stay low and new businesses are brought to the city.
Sunil Sivaraman says the city is currently divided. He wants to work together in a collaborative fashion to do what’s best for Troy, and be the voice of the citizens of Troy. He is already quite involved in the city, being a member of the Traffic Committee, the Troy Financial Ideas Team, the TYA board and more. “I’m here to make Troy better,” he promises.
When asked if it was important to vote in local elections, all the candidates agreed it was very important. Voting in local elections, McCown reminded us, affects people’s daily lives.
They all like the Big Beaver Trolley shuttle service and hope it works out in the coming year, although it might need a little expansion in service areas.
Asked what causes they would champion, Hamilton quickly noted he would like to have a green space advisory board in Troy. Hodorek said she liked that idea but would also like to see us work on our communications with residents. McCown would champion renewal of programs for seniors while encouraging young people to come live in Troy.
Pennington wants more technology for the city and residents as well as homes suitable for smaller families in the future. Sivaraman calls for Troy to find out what people want by taking polls, at zero cost. Giri wants transparency and thinks council should go door-to-door and talk to people.
And on the big question, are you for or against the charter amendment, YES said Giri and Sivaraman. With Giri saying “the lawyers will work it out.” Gunn said he didn’t know enough about it to answer that question (the flyer should be in your mail folks, open it) and NO declared Hamilton, Pennington, Hodorek and McCown.
Hodorek warned of unintentional consequences. Hamilton noted that if we lose our AAA bond rating our taxes will go up because our interest rates will go up. Pennington wondered how many of us would want to wade through the piles of contracts voters would be expected to approve each November.
You will be able to watch the forum on CMNtv’s cable stations or the video on their website. You can pick up the League’s Voters Guide at the Troy Public Library, or go to VOTE411.org for more information.