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
Community Involvement: Downtown Development Authority Design Committee (3 years); 2016 Downtown Master Planning Update Committee; 2017 Mary Martin Service Award Nominee; Volunteer at various Farmington Events (Founders Festival, Harvest Moon, etc).
What best qualifies you to serve on Farmington city council?
There are several reasons I’m qualified to serve on City Council. First, I’m a registered (licensed) professional engineer, which uniquely qualifies me to evaluate proposals for development and re-development in the city. Second, my leadership experience includes success in business and non-profit organizations. Leadership matters, and I have demonstrated that I can achieve MORE through my ability to bring people together, motivate them, and collaborate to create results. Third, I have a record of service and community involvement in Farmington. I have more to give to Farmington and I’m looking to do just that on City Council.
Describe your vision for the future of Farmington looking 10 years ahead.
My vision for Farmington is to be a city that lives at the intersection of history and the future. It is a vision where our seniors have mobility and access to our city’s gathering places and businesses. It is a vision that leverages technology to showcase our history and connect our residents and visitors. It is a vision of our community becoming stronger, growing economically through innovative services that can generate new revenue for the city. It is a vision where residents are engaged, informed, and participating in conversations that matter to them. All of this is achievable in a 10-year timeframe, and I believe there is a strong desire among our residents to accomplish all of this and more. Visit my Facebook page for more details about my vision, and how we can realize it, together: facebook.com/electjoelarussa/
What is Farmington’s most critical challenge today and how should the community address it?
Farmington’s most critical challenge is growing and sustaining a level of revenue that (1) offsets continued challenges with state funding/revenue sharing, (2) allows Farmington to catch up and eventually get ahead of infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and (3) enables the city to provide more resources and services to residents.
In addition to the development and re-development activity that Farmington is already pursuing, I believe we have an equal or even greater opportunity to address this challenge through the use of technology. We’ve all seen how tech can revolutionize the way we travel, shop, and work. Technology can also help Farmington become more efficient, and generate new services and revenue streams that couldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago.
Services are the second-highest revenue source for the city, and this is an area where new ideas can be tested quickly and inexpensively, and can generate results faster than traditional development projects, while maintaining or even lowering taxes because of the growth potential. For example, what if you could snap a selfie in front of the Civic…circa 1945!?!? Technology like augmented reality can make this possible, and it could create revenue through sponsorships and licensing fees for the historic images, while being fun and educational for our residents and visitors too. Bike and ride-share platforms could be used to address the persistent topic of parking capacity. These things (and more) are possible, and I have the experience and connectivity to implement creative solutions like these in Farmington.
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?
I will use my experience, expertise, and leadership to increase engagement with residents and ensure we get as much feedback as possible. When I led the Membership division for SME (formerly the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), I had to find a way to communicate and engage members ranging from college students to retired tool-and-die makers. I know that different messages and channels work for different people. I know you have to meet people where they are to engage them.
When I’m on the campaign trail, what I hear most is people asking me to inform them about various things they want to know about our city. We need to remedy that because our community is made up of residents who care…they just need information. What will I personally do to engage residents? Whatever is necessary to meet them where they are and get them into the conversation. Farmington has communication channels. We need to match them to the residents’ preferences and then use those channels to increase participation with our city’s governance.