UPDATE: Farmington Hills council approves application process

Farmington Hills council members have settled on a process for filling a council vacancy, with applications due by January 7.

UPDATE: A copy of the questionnaire and more information has been posted here: fhgov.com/Government/Current-Programs-Initiatives/City-Seeks-New-Council-Member-w-Questionnaire-ADA.aspx

The successful applicant will fill out the term of Samantha Steckloff, which expires next year. Steckloff resigned last month after winning the 37th District House of Representatives seat on November 3.

Those interested will be asked to submit a bio with their name, address, work and other basic information. Officials settled on a questionnaire that asks:

  • why the applicant is seeking the appointment and a discussion of their civic and public experience
  • how the applicant sees the primary role of a council person and how they seek to understand what’s happening in the community
  • their top three goals as a council person
  • what is the biggest challenge facing Farmington Hills and how they would address it
  • what they feel is their main responsibility to the citizens of Farmington Hills

Council member Michael Bridges initially opposed the questionnaire, which he said is a “deviation from previous practices.” An initial list drafted by acting city manager Gary Mekjian included questions on finance and redevelopment that he felt were unfair.

“I think these preformed questions give an advantage to someone who’s been involved with the city more than other candidates who haven’t been involved with the city,” said Bridges, who went through the appointment process before winning a 2008 special election.

Massey, who served on council in 2008, likened the questionnaire to an election survey. It wouldn’t preclude the applicant from being interviewed, but “I would put the question out there, why did you not take the time to do this? It’s not punitive. ”

“We can learn from this,” he said. “I think it’s just helping people understand what they’re getting into.”

“It’s not just about us, I’m sure the public wants to know,” council member Valerie Knol said. Publishing the questionnaires would provide citizens who couldn’t watch the interviews with more information, she added.

Applicants will also be encouraged to attend future city council meetings, including a January 11 study session, during which officials will review applications, and a January 16 goal-setting session.

The only requirement is that applicants must be a registered voter in Farmington Hills. Mayor Vicki Barnett emphasized that everyone who applies will be interviewed.

“I think we owe our citizens that,” she said.

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