Novi City Council candidates talk about motivations and stances on issues ahead of November elections

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Novi City Council members exiting a meeting on Monday, July 17, 2019. Photo by Darin Baydoun.

NOVI, Mich.- For any election season, being able to identify the key reasons that are behind the candidate’s motivation for running is important for voters to make their best-informed decisions.

This upcoming election shouldn’t be any different, as on Tuesday, Nov. 5, residents will head to the polls to decide which three out of six candidates will fill out four year terms and what one of three candidates will hold a two year term.

“I just generally always had an interest in public service and the study of public policy has always been interesting to me,” said Councilwoman Laura Casey, who will be at the end of her second term on the council in November. “I was on the library board when the new library was built, and having that feeling of being able to contribute and bringing better things into Novi makes me feel good.”

“Ultimately it’s trying to make Novi a better place to live for everybody,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Staudt, who has served on the council since 2007. “When I came on I wanted to get things done, and I’ve been lucky I’ve been able to accomplish a lot, but there is still work to be done.”

Looking at the new candidates for council, they come with their own motivations and takes on Novi. Carolyn Upton, a Novi citizen for over two decades flat out stated “I am running because the votes and the voices that I see on council don’t represent my own beliefs,” and sees the biggest issues being overdevelopment in Novi and not having enough protection for greenspace.

“What I hope to accomplish is to be a vote for responsible responsible development, support for our schools and the preservation of the natural land that’s still in Novi,” said Upton.

Council candidate Tia Marie Sanders motivation comes from how she’s “worked for the city of Novi for the last few years. I’ve done work at the library and run several programs like Feed the Need, so knowing that work needed to be done I felt like the only thing I haven’t done was to venture into the political arena and make policies to help families in need. “

As for issues Sanders said that “my goal is to advocate to families. There are people that I’m aware of that can’t get from one side of Novi to another, and I want to restore the citizenship back to the citizens of this community.”

For candidate Alexandra Dinser, her inspiration actually came from friend and Oakland County Commissioner Gwen Markham, who “encouraged me to get involved in politics. I’ve lived here for 29 years, my whole life, and looking to the future I think I can make some positive change.”

As for key issues, Dinser particularly wants to focus subjects that have youth engagement backgrounds to them, as well as protecting green spaces and improved housing for seniors and downsizers.

Candidate Colleen Crossey, who’s lived in Novi for 11 years, said that her motivations come from how she thinks the city council are “unresponsive to people and aren’t set up to hear what people have to say. They kind of have their decisions made and tell people what they are, whereas what I’m doing now is having public meetings and going about issues.”

Along with Improving communication, Crossey wants to also focus on responsible development and protect wetlands and set up affordable high-speed fiber optic internet in the community.

As for Justin Fischer, he is unlike most new candidates in that he already has served on the Novi City Council from 2009 to 2014, along with being a lifelong Novi resident, and he said that he “loves giving back to the community.” “Growing up here, I care a lot about it and want to keep steering the community in the right direction,” Fischer said.

In terms of issues, Fischer said that a key focus would be public safety would be number one, followed by focuses in infrastructure such as road construction as well as investing in new walkways and parks so that “we can be a great community.”

As for the issues the incumbent councilors are focusing on, Casey said that in particular she wants to keep looking at the support for the older adult community in Novi, and as she said “trying to answer the question of are we providing enough for our older adults.”

As for Staudt, he said that “maintain the highest standard of public safety will always be the most important,” followed by having focus on improving neighborhood roads and looking the potential building of a new community center in Novi.

To note, candidates Hugh Crawford and Bin Qamruzzaman, both running for four year terms on city council, could not be reached for comment for this story.

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