F2H Votes: Barnett says Farmington Hills needs vision

Our F2H Votes series brings you candidate interviews and information about the 2019 local elections in Farmington and Farmington Hills. Follow local election news on social media with the #F2HVotes19 hashtag. 

We begin our coverage with the Farmington Hills mayoral race and candidates Richard Lerner and Vicki Barnett.

Vicki Barnett
Vicki Barnett (Contributed)

Former Farmington Hills council member, two-term mayor, and three-term state representative Vicki Barnett has several reasons for tossing her hat into the ring one more time.

Most of all, she’s concerned about the city’s future.

The 2019 candidate for mayor said the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) predicts that by 2026, Farmington Hills’ population will include more senior citizens than children. And that’s going to affect more than the local school district.

“We cannot continue to balance Farmington Hills’ budget and keep our triple A bond rating by solely relying on seniors’ incomes,” Barnett said.

She’s also concerned that the city has no committee creating a vision for the future. The city’s last vision plan, finalized in 2011, looked out to 2020.

“We really need to have a long-term plan,” Barnett said. “The last few years, Farmington Hills has scrambled – successfully – to mend short-term holes, but without a long-term vision… What’s Farmington Hills going to look like in 2030?”

Farmington Hills officials have always been very forward-thinking, making the city a leader in many areas, Barnett said.

“I don’t see that happening any more,” she said. Barnett believes the council most recently missed the mark with a vote to ban marijuana-related facilities.

“I believe it was a short-sighted view of the council to not take the lead on recreational marijuana and find places to site those businesses away from neighborhoods,” she said. “Now we’re leaving it up to the state to make the rules… that really don’t address the needs of Farmington Hills.”

Barnett would push for a study of redevelopment possibilities on Orchard Lake Road, 12 Mile Road, at the 10 MileOrchard Lake intersection, and other areas of the city. That’s important, she said, because Proposal A caps the city’s ability to capture taxes from increased property values.

In addition, she’d like to see more housing options for seniors, which would free up housing for younger families who want to call Farmington Hills home.

“I want to promote Farmington Hills as a multi-racial, multi-age, multi-opportunity city,” she said.

As a former state lawmaker, Barnett said, she brings to the position a better understanding of how to effectively advocate for the city. She is also a former Michigan Municipal League president, National League of Cities board member, and chair of the SEMCOG Data Advisory committee. 

Barnett is married to attorney Mark Steckloff; they have two children, Samantha and Jordan. Samantha Steckloff is a current Farmington Hills city council member.