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.
Sarah Davies, 37, works as an IT Change Manager. She has been a homeowner in Farmington since 2017, and her family has been in the area since the 1970s. She is the third generation in her family to own a home in Farmington and graduated from Farmington High School, as did her mother. Her daughter will start in Farmington Public Schools in 2020.
My civic involvement started in 1988, when my second-grade class at Flanders Elementary planted a tree that won our class the Keep Michigan Beautiful award in 1989. That tree was torn out as part of the Flanders redevelopment, and I led the effort to plant a new one in Flanders park in 2017. Thirty years later, I’m proud to be the recipient of the Keep Michigan Beautiful award again!
Since then, I have been appointed to the Farmington Beautification Committee and joined the Farmington Area Jaycees. I also founded and currently run Keep Farmington Beautiful, a local organization geared towards beautification and cleanup in Farmington and Farmington Hills. Through the Jaycees and Keep Farmington Beautiful, I hosted the first annual Great Farmington Cleanup event that took place this spring. I have also started hosting neighborhood parties on the east side of town in the Floral Park neighborhood, something that area has not seen for over a decade! Our most recent party, this summer, hosted musicians from School of Rock on Orchard Lake.
Why did you decide to run for a seat on council?
I’ve been involved on the “fringes” of city government for several years. Being a community volunteer and a community advocate has helped me see both the city’s strengths, and where we have room to improve. I’m keenly connected with what our residents are looking for from local government. I’ve worked with the city as a volunteer, and I’ve spoken at public comment to urge action on multiple issues that I know our community supports. I’m ready to be the change I want to see in our city.
What unique strengths will you bring to the table?
As a single mom, I understand the struggles of a single-parent, single-income family. I know what it’s like to juggle work, day care, housework, and family time, and that’s a brand-new perspective that Council currently lacks.
I’m a change manager by trade, which means I guide opportunities for growth while staying true to the essence of what we are today. With your support, I’ll do the same for Farmington.
What one issue do you plan to address first if you win a seat in November?
Communication between the council and the community. If a community member takes the time to show up at public comment, there should be time for council to think about those comments prior to a vote, and the comments should be addressed. I would like to see all city meetings made available for live viewing on social media platforms, like Facebook Live, to engage the public through the channels we rely on in day-to-day life. I’d like to implement a “welcome packet” for new residents, plus a consistent opt-in email update system with details about our community – like council meeting times and locations, events, local laws we might not be aware of, or how to get permits to build an addition. To this end, I’ll call for investments in our communications department, to give staff the resources they need to take Farmington’s communications strategy to the next level.
There’s a new emphasis on arts in Farmington, particularly downtown. What role do you believe the arts play in building a stronger and more resilient community, and how will you support the arts as a council member?
I am a huge supporter of local artists and musicians. I would love to see more artwork displayed in the community, as well as murals and projects like painting the highway underpass at Farmington/Freedom, something I’m currently involved in researching. I would love to have more local artists at events like Founders Festival – more like it was back when Founders Festival was held in conjunction with Art on the Grand. The addition of lighting, live art, and hula hooping has been great to the Music in Riley Park series this past summer, and I support the DDA Public Art Committee in seeking out more opportunities to recognize and feature local artists.
What measures would you support to make the city, and especially downtown, more walkable and bike-able?
This is huge for me! Farmington people love to walk, and I want Farmington to be a community that encourages exercise and outdoor activity. To make this a reality, we need to invest in improvements that make our walkways safer; make them wider at critical points so that if a person on a bike passes a person walking with a stroller, there is room for both to pass each other safely without one pedestrian having to step into the road. The bridge on Grand River, just east of downtown, is dangerous for walkers, bikers, and pedestrians alike for this very reason. Plus, many of our walkways are not smooth. While pushing my daughter in the stroller, I’ve hit more than one bump that was so rough she actually fell out! That needs to be fixed. We can do that by continuing to prioritize sidewalk maintenance when it comes to our millage dollars, along with flashing beacons and one of my favorite walkability features: a “pedestrian scramble,” or traffic signal just for walkers. I’ll also support the Farmington Road streetscape: it’ll have the twin effect of improving the business environment and making downtown safer and more inviting for people on foot.
On a similar topic, I’m a huge supporter of recycling, and find it frustrating that when I am out walking, there’s no place to recycle things like plastic bottles or Starbucks cups. I’d like to add both recycling and trash cans all across the city, so litter stays off the streets and out of the landfill – and, next to them, a bench or exercise platform every few hundred yards.
Both cities are looking at whether it makes sense to create a municipal broadband system. What’s your take on this idea?
I’m on board with municipal broadband. In some ways, the investments we do in Farmington are about getting up-to-date with other cities. Broadband is a great way to set Farmington apart and make our city a leader.