By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – City officeholders could change a lot – or not much – after Tuesday’s election.
Up for grabs are six city council seats vied for by four incumbents and six challengers and a city assessor position vied for by two newcomers after the retirement of current City Assessor Coleen Keehn.
City Clerk William Griggs and Mayor Joseph Peterson are running unopposed for their seats and City Councilman Todd Browning, who is term-limited out of his council seat, will run unopposed for city treasurer.
For the City Council race, incumbents Larry Stec, Leonard Sabuda, Dan Galeski and Sherri Sutherby Fricke will vie for their seats against challengers Johnny Kolakowski, Kevin Van Boxell, Theodore Galeski, Val Zavala, Don Schultz and Ted Miciuria Jr.
Stec, a lifelong resident, served as mayor and as a council member for two prior terms before being re-elected four years ago. He said at a recent candidate forum that the most recent council’s record through programs like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which turns blighted homes into revamped affordable housing and brings families into the city, “speaks for itself.”
Sabuda began his political career in the 1970s as the administrative assistant to then-mayor James DeSana, who is not running for his current council seat. He is a former owner of area 7-Elevens and has served on city council and as mayor. If elected, he said he will focus on improving house values, maintaining a balanced budget and eliminating blighted properties.
Dan Galeski has had more than 50 years of service to the city, including 38 with the Wyandotte Police Department. He said he wants to focus on saving taxpayer money by eliminating unnecessary projects and redeveloping vacant properties to get them back on the tax rolls.
Fricke is in her second term, first serving on the council in 2005. A real estate agent, she serves on the national and state associations of Realtors. If re-elected, she hopes to focus on the redeveloping the city’s north end, recreation department and business district on Fort Street.
Kolakowski, a former city council member and lifelong resident, said he wants to help return the city to its former glory. He said he wants to focus on revitalizing neighborhoods and turning Wyandotte back into a “destination city.”
Van Boxell, a 15-year veteran of the Wyandotte Public Schools Board of Education, recently retired from the U.S. Navy and is a retiree of a family-owned trucking business. He said his business experience gave him insight into legal, labor and financial issues that he can bring to the city council.
Theodore Galeski is an appraiser for Wayne County. He served as city assessor for Wyandotte and if elected hopes to use practices in place in successful cities to help improve Wyandotte.
Zavala served for 25 years on the Wyandotte Police Department and said the council needs to be more efficient with fewer resources.
Schultz is a co-founder of city neighborhood group Garfield Neighbors United, the city planning commission and its historical commission. If elected, he would be a “champion of code enforcement,” and would like to create a database of rental property owners to help combat neglectful landlords.
Miciuria has a background in construction and said he hopes to build a stronger police and fire presence, upgrade the power plant and develop the waterfront to lure in boaters.
In the assessor race, Tom Woodruff and Jerry Kupser are facing off. Woodruff owns Downriver Stone Design in Wyandotte with his wife. He helped start the Wyandotte Veteran’s Task Force and is a member of many veteran’s groups.
If elected, he said he hopes to focus on fair and proper assessments.
Kupser, who served nine years on the WPS Board of Education, is a retiree of the city’s electrical department.
If elected, he said he hopes to focus on making sure rental properties are declared, reviewing assessment procedures, and having an “open-door policy” in the department.