F2H Votes: Farmington City Council candidate Maria Taylor

Farmington Voice sent questionnaires to five Farmington city council and four Farmington Hills city council candidates. Responses are being published in the order they were received. Read all of our election coverage here: farmingtonvoice.com/tag/elections

Maria Taylor
Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor

Age: 26

Community involvement:

  • DDA Press Corps writer (2012 – 2014)
  • Warnerettes Parasol Drill Team charter member (2009 – present)
  • Governor Warner Mansion publicity coordinator (2012 – 2016)
  • City of Farmington election inspector (2008 – present)
  • Farmington Historical Commission member (2014 – 2015)
  • Preservation Farmington co-founder (2015 – present)
  • Farmington Observer reporter (2016 – early 2017)

What best qualifies you to serve on Farmington city council?

I’ve lived in Farmington since 1999. I’m a long-time Warner Mansion volunteer. A former
member of the Historical Commission. And a young person who looks to the future.

Through my years as a city volunteer, I’ve seen enough of local government to have a good idea
of what works. I’m also enough of an outsider that I can see things with a fresh set of eyes in a
way that members of the establishment cannot.

As an editor by trade, my job is to combine different ideas into the best possible product: to get
things done even when folks disagree. I seek accountability, ask questions, and demand that
those questions be answered.

I’ll bring the same ethic to the council table. I’ll keep what works, fix what does not, and
champion the issues that make a difference in our everyday lives.

You can read more about background and my key issues at maria4farmington.com or
facebook.com/maria4farmington.

Describe your vision for the future of Farmington looking 10 years ahead.

Farmington has a reputation as a family community – a historic community – a city with a heart.
That’s part of its draw. Truth is, there’s a lot of overlap between what seniors and young people
want from our city. They want a walkable downtown. Things to do. A distinct vibe. Some call it
“historic character” or “sense of place.” Some call it “authenticity.”

Farmington has that. We need to leverage it, rather than trying to become something we’re
not. We need to build on our strengths.

If we do that, in 10 years I envision a robust, vibrant downtown with full storefronts and
activities year-round: think food trucks against a unique, historic backdrop.

Our city will be more walkable, with streets that are safer to cross, sidewalks that are safe for
wheelchairs and strollers, and crosswalks that connect the neighborhoods to the downtown
and the parks.

Changing needs will have spurred on new developments; I will insist they be in scale with the
surrounding neighborhoods so that redevelopment will complement, not bulldoze, the historic
character that gives the city its one-of- a-kind vibe.

I envision a city that’s economically healthy; where investment downtown is balanced with
investment in neighborhoods across the city, improving property values and quality of life and
maintaining our current level of services so Farmington continues to be an independent city
and a great place to live.

What is Farmington’s most critical challenge today and how should the community address
it?

Farmington stands at a crossroads in time. We have to grow and adapt, or risk becoming
obsolete. The question is, which path to take? Do we want to build, build, build – and risk
becoming another run-of- the-mill suburb full of the same development you can find one, two,
three towns over? Or do we want to embrace our historic roots, letting the city’s character
shine through as we expand and redevelop?

I choose option two, because that is what will continue to set Farmington apart.

Our half-mile jewel of a downtown is the heartbeat of our city. But every few years, we lose
another historic building. We get a proposal for an apartment structure at Maxfield that many
neighbors think is out of character and out of scale. Once we lose our historic places, or turn
over space to a new complex or parking structure, there’s no going back. Meanwhile, with all
eyes on new development downtown, people in our outlying neighborhoods feel left out and
ignored.

It’s up to us to balance the new in a way that enhances and stays in scale with what we
already have.

As Farmington grows upward and outward, I’ll call for development that complements, not
bulldozes, our city’s historic character, its parks and green spaces, its small-town feel. Outside
of downtown, I’ll push to address needs in the neighborhoods that are too often overlooked. By striking the right balance, we can protect the investment made by people who live here today
while continuing to attract those seeking the “Farmington” way of life to grow their families and businesses and livelihoods.

What do/will you do on a personal level to engage residents in city government and ensure
that you’re hearing from a broad cross-section of the community?

As your council member, I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing throughout my campaign:
getting out and talking to residents to hear what you want for our city. Instead of sitting back
and waiting for people to come to meetings to share their issues, I’ll meet folks where they’re
at.

Like it or hate it, social media is emerging as the newest variation of the ubiquitous town
square. In a DDA survey last year, when local citizens were asked how they got their news,
almost 40% said “from social media.” So when people take to Facebook to express their
opinions, I’ll pay attention to what they’re saying, the same way one might with a letter to the
editor in the local paper.

When citizens come to city meetings and speak at public comment, I will respect your opinion
and your dedication to the community. Too often, I’ve spoken or heard my friends speak and
felt dismissed by members of the council, and I won’t stand for that. I’ll listen and do my best to
understand your issues, regardless of whether I agree personally.

When issues come up on the council agenda that will directly affect a certain group of people –
like parking for downtown employees or new design standards for the historic district – I’ll go
out and ask those people for input so my vote helps them. If there’s a development going up
in your back yard, or construction tearing up your street, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll
be knocking on your door and asking for your thoughts.

I’ll also keep an eye out for people whose passion for our city shines through and encourage
them to share their talents, be that via our existing boards and commissions or by creating new
groups – like a committee on walkability – to tackle community projects.