By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — The public had an opportunity to meet the candidates in the upcoming city election Sept. 21.
The Allen Park Democratic Association hosted a meet-the-candidates event at the American Hungarian Reformed Church, 9901 Allen Road, as part of its regular meeting. The event was an opportunity for the public to get to know each candidate and their views on the issues currently facing the city.
Nine of the 12 candidates running for city council and one mayoral candidate attended. The nine council candidates who appeared were Anthony Couls, Angelo DeGiulio, Tina Gaworecki, Bruce Haberkern, Gail McLeod, Mike Mullins, Kevin Rourke, Larry Templin and Robert Turner. Brenda Dingess, Harry Sisko, and Allen Wojczynski did not attend.
Many of the residents and candidates who attended were upset that not every candidate showed for the event.
“I guess Sisko and the current (mayor) don’t feel they need to meet the citizens,” Paul Rodman wrote on the Allen Park Politics Facebook page.
Wojczynski, offered an explanation for his absence on the page. “I had an unexpected family emergency this pm which totally ruined my plans for tonight!! My feelings are family first then whatever else,” he wrote.
Current Councilman and mayoral candidate Dennis Hayes was in attendance at the meeting, but Mayor William Matakas was not. Also not in attendance were Maureen Armstrong and Mike Mizzi who are running unopposed for treasurer and city clerk, respectively.
During the event each candidates were given 10 minutes each to tell the audience anything they wanted to about themselves and their views on the issues. All candidates seemed to touch on the issue of the poor road conditions and the related millage on the November ballot.
Degiulio, Haberkern and Mullins said they opposed the millage.
“If we have to live within our means then the city should have to live within their means too,” Degiulio said. “I believe we should keep our hands in our own pockets. Not in the citizens’.”
Degiulio is one of a handful of candidates who does not take or solicit financial support.
Mullins suggested instead of the road milage tax that the city take what he has deemed “best practices” from other cities.
“I’m not going to propose ideas that don’t work,” he said. “I’m going to impose ideas that are what I call ‘best practices.’ Things that have worked for other cities.”
He cited the mobile weigh master unit which is used by Taylor police to insure that trucks are following the proper weight restrictions on I-75 and I-94. Mullins said the unit provides the city of Taylor with $880,000 in income a year. He would like to see that put into place in Allen Park and said he thought it would generate even more for the city as they have three major freeways, not two.
Mullins also suggested that Allen Park put into play a traffic unit that is based on data driven approaches to crime and traffic safety.
“They put officers in areas of high crime in order to catch people either before or after they commit a crime,” he said. “Taylor received $6 million in revenue from this approach.”
Hayes spoke on the importance of listening and communication.
“We have our problems and we have to fix them,” he said. “We don’t listen and we don’t communicate very well. Not everybody likes what I say, but at least you’ll hear it from me.”
There will be another opportunity for residents to meet the candidates at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Allen Park High School, 18401 Champaign Road.
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)