By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Voters here are not only going to decide upon a mayor and city council in Tuesday’s general election, but face a millage proposal for the roads, and residents in Precinct 16 will decide on a millage for the Southgate Community School District.
The mayoral race is between incumbent Mayor William Matakas and Councilman Dennis Hayes, both attorneys.
Matakas is a lifelong Allen Park resident and a graduate of Allen Park schools. He obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan and operates a private law practice in the city. He served on the Allen Park Planning and Zoning Authority Commission and the Allen Park Public Schools School Board.
“I think one of the things that has been most important is to re-establish trust with the residents,” Matakas said.
Hayes has been a resident of Allen Park since 1986. He received his law degree from University of Detroit Law School. He said he is “semi-retired,” but still works part-time as an attorney in the areas of juvenile, probate and district law. He has been a councilman for the last four years.
If elected Hayes said he will focus on communication between the mayor and the residents.
“Communication is critical and I don’t think we have been doing such a good job at it,” he said. “That is the difference I can bring. If I get a call or an email, I immediately respond.”
There are 12 candidates running for City Council, but one of them, Brenda Dingess, withdrew her candidacy. The remaining 11 are Anthony Couls, Councilman Angelo DeGiulio, Councilwoman Tina Gaworecki, Bruce Haberkern, Gail McLeod, Michael Mullins, Kevin A. Rourke, Councilman Harry Sisko, Councilman Larry Templin, Robert Turner, and Allen Wojczynski. Many of the council candidates were not available for comment as of press time.
Couls said he is a “boomerang Allen Parker,” in that he was born in Allen Park, moved away and has since moved back to the city. He is active in St. Frances Cabrini Parish. He said he started getting involved in the city two years ago. He started with involvement in the department of Parks and Recreation and has since made his way into other areas of city involvement.
He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.
Couls decided to run for council because, “I saw there was a need for educated leadership, combined with passionate leadership. I want to better the city however I can. I have a lot of resources to offer the city.”
DeGiulio said he would like to see a larger police force in the city. Currently the department is only able to have four patrol officers on the road at a time, which is down from its standard of five and sometimes they have to go short when officers are on leave.
McLeod said she has an extensive background in human relations and co-chaired the emergency manager advisory committee.
“My focus is on financial stability, but some things like being responsive to our citizens also take precedent,” said McLeod, who has lived in the city for 40 years.
Templin served 27 years as a police officer in Allen Park. He was appointed to the council in 2011 by then-Mayor Gary Burka.
“I have a working knowledge of the city,” he said. “I saw how things were running and felt I could help by serving on council. I’d like to see it continue on in the good way it has been going.”
Turner, currently serves on the Melvindale/North Allen Park School Board and said he has a strong background in accounting and finance.
He said his greatest strength is that, “I’m great at teamwork and dealing with people. I may not agree with them, but I respect and listen to what they have to say.
According to the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating reports, the roads in the city are in poor condition. Voters will decide whether or not they are willing to increase their millage by 1.9015 mills for the purpose of repairing and replacing roads over the next 10 years. This is roughly an increase of $1.90 per $1,000 in home value. For example someone with a $100,000 home would pay an additional$95.08 a year.
The millage would bring the city to its full taxing capacity of 12.5 mills.
Residents in Precinct 16 are being asked to maintain its current millage rate. There would be no tax increase unless the value of a residents home increases. Theresa McLachlan, director of business and finance for the district, said the school board was able to refinance some bonds at a better rate in January. Because of the new rate, they were able to use the savings to keep the millage the same. Had they not been able to refinance the bonds, residents would have been asked to increase the millage to 7.64 mills, a difference of 1.53 mills.
All voters, with the exception of Precinct 16, will vote at the Community Center, 15800 White St. Precinct 16 voters, because of the Southgate schools issue on their ballot, will vote at their officially designated spot, Church of the Nazarene, 10944 Reek Road.
The city charter states that a regular meeting shall be held on the Monday following the election. Therefore the next City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 9. The current mayor and council will conduct one last meeting, accept the election results, answer questions and then adjourn for the last time.
The new mayor and council will then be sworn in by 24th District Court Judge Richard Page or the legal officiate of his choice.
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at [email protected].)