1) Please provide as much information as possible about your personal and professional background. (75-word limit.)
2) Please tell us what compelled you to run for office. (50-word limit.)
3) Describe and prioritize the top two issues on your agenda. (100-word limit.)
1) I was born on an American military base in Quantico, Virginia, where my father was stationed, and I have lived in Dearborn Heights for 17 years. I am the mother of four and the grandmother of two. I own and operate N.J. Diamonds jewelry store for the past 12 years.
2) Dealing with today’s difficult economic times requires fresh ideas, and creative problem solving from the city council. If elected, I’m committed to filling that important need.
3) Top two issues facing our city is, the budget, and the enforcement of our city charter. Working to keep the city’s budget balanced without pressuring our Police Department to issue frivolous traffic tickets. Police priority should be neighborhood safety. Saving money with collaborative efforts with other cities and Wayne County sharing purchasing of services and products. Eliminating nepotism and enforcing the federally mandated civil service testing process for hiring qualified people. Those who have been hired in recent years without following proper procedures must reapply for their jobs following the existing city, federal rules.
1) After high school in 1956, I joined the Marines. In 1959, moved from New York to attend HFCC. Admitted to the University of Detroit in 1961, earning my bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1966. Master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University in 1969. Married in 1964 with a daughter in 1965, today with four grand daughters. At 71, I am self-employed, semi-retired, licensed by the State of Michigan to practice architecture, professional community planning and construction.
2) I am by education / experience a creative problem solver, however, ultimate solutions are political! As a physical planning professional I have dealt with transportation, master planning, land use, and zoning issues as well as construction – All issues that the city is concerned with, that the other candidates lack.
3) Three ordinance officers cannot enforce all our ordinances, and hiring (2 or 3) more can’t either. The solution is to charge our employees operating in our public thoroughfares to call in violations they see to the enforcement officers to ticket the offending resident to appear in court, our pay a fine. We will make money with better results. The vehicles we purchase must be smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient to operate and maintain where practical in order to do their required tasks. Department heads should drive light trucks or sub compact cars. The police should use the Ford Escape hybrid, a fuel efficient multi purpose SUV saving thousands monthly.
1) I am 39 years old, married five years to my husband, John, and a 31-year resident of Dearborn Heights. I graduated from: Divine Child High School in 1988, Lawrence Technological University with a BSBA in accounting in 1995, and Wayne State University with an MBA in finance (taxation minor) in 2000. As a professional, I have worked as a restaurant manager, tax accountant (small business & individual), and as a financial services representative/advisor (i.e. stockbroker).
2) Prompted by my brother over eight years ago, I decided to expand my community service by running for a seat on the City Council. I am running for re-election because I have more to contribute to Dearborn Heights’ future. I am committed to serving the residents of Dearborn Heights.
3) The budget is always my top priority and is the council’s main function. Since our revenues are on the decline and costs keep rising, I will support cooperative purchasing with other communities, approve cost savings through technology use, scrutinize contracts making certain that they benefit the city, and encourage federal and state grant seeking. Also, foreclosures and rentals are on the rise. I will suggest changes to our current ordinances so homes are safe and well maintained, allocate more money in our budget towards ordinance enforcement, and continue to encourage resident participation in neighborhood watch programs and CERT.
Could not be reached.
1) 54 years old. Married 29 years, mother of 3 daughters. 35-year resident of Dearborn Heights. Bachelor’s degree in business management from University of Detroit-Mercy 1988. Master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University in 2008. Research analyst for AAA of Michigan 1985-94. Purchasing agent for Oakwood Healthcare System 1994-2000 Wayne County employee with Register of Deeds 2001-09.
2) As a concerned resident, I see the need to become involved in the solution of the problems that are stressing the Dearborn Heights community. I am passionate about being an advocate for all residents in my community ensuring that they will be fairly represented.
3) I will prioritize expenditures and oversee that they be directed and allocated to the most critical areas first. In the area of crime prevention, I would support efforts to increase police protection of area residents and properties, implement neighborhood watch program, Regarding the above issues and any other issue or concern raised by residents, I would serve as a liaison between residents and the City Council by maintaining and welcoming an open line of communication of the issues that need to be addressed.
Declined to participate.
1) 40 years old. Dearborn Heights resident for 13 years. Have 17-year-old daughter. Self-employed; business management. Nearly 30 years of community activism including president of the Military Park Neighborhood Association where I improved community/police relationship and reducing crime, fighting blight, reducing foreclosed/vacant homes, improving community pride. At age 12 helped create a “paint bank” to help prevent blighted structures in neighborhood.
2) A fresh outlook is what our city wants. I understand the importance of listening to needs of the people: building a team that will help to reduce crime, clean up properties, reduce the number of vacant homes, focus on the needs of our youth and seniors, and increase community pride.
3) Working for positive change that empowers and engages the people of Dearborn Heights is a top priority. I plan to work with community groups and neighborhoods to get things done. This is necessary in order to reduce crime, reverse the effects of foreclosed and vacant homes and blight. I also will work with area residents and government officials to find a long-term solution to flooding issues in our city. To help keep a balanced budget I will support efforts opposing any additional state shared revenue cuts and find other revenue sources without a tax increase.
Margaret Van Houten
1) Attorney & business owner, Margaret M. Van Houten, PLC, handling general civil litigation, business, real estate, estate planning and probate matters. City Council member (1998-Present). Divine Child High School (1987); University of Michigan, B.A. (1991); University of Detroit-Mercy, J.D (1994). Kiwanis Club (1997-2009 president); Goodfellows (1994-2009 vice president); Divine Child Church & choir; State Bar of Michigan (1994-2009) – Representative Assembly (2008-2009) – Judicial Qualifications Committee (2004-2007). Lifelong resident (40 years) and homeowner in Dearborn Heights.
2) I first ran for an open council seat with the support and encouragement of residents, family and friends, and a desire to give back to the community. I want to continue helping residents and utilize my skills and experiences to help guide the city through these tough economic times.
3) Maintaining property values is number one. Enforce blight ordinances and increase the frequency of rental inspections to keep properties up to code. I have supported increasing the number of ordinance officers and continue to seek ways to help residents fight blight in their neighborhoods. The city must also utilize the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant monies to acquire and rehab vacant properties. On the issue of public safety I would provide for well-trained and well-equipped police and fire departments to protect our residents. Implement neighborhood watch programs and special police units to focus on crime prevention. Clean, safe neighborhoods are the keys to a stable, thriving community.