Farmington Voices: Cathi Waun, Farmington City Council

The Farmington Voices: 2021 Elections podcast offers candidates for city offices in Farmington and Farmington Hills an opportunity to provide information about themselves and their candidacy. Local candidates running on November 2, 2021, can schedule an interview by writing to joni@farmingtonvoice.com.

Transcript

Speaker 1

Cathi Waun is a candidate for City Council in Farmington. Cathi, thanks for taking a little bit of time today, and let’s start by having you tell us about yourself. How long have you lived in Farmington, a little bit about what you do here, your community involvement, that sort of thing. 

Speaker 2

Right. Thank you, Joni. We moved here to Farmington about 2009, after considering a number of different areas. My parents, my brother, and his kids live in Farmington. We would come watch them play. They were all involved in South Farmington baseball. And you know, what we noticed is the friendliness of people and the strong sense of community that we were not finding in other communities that we were looking at. That, coupled with my love of film, books, eating, being able to walk to those three things, walk to different restaurants downtown, it was very appealing to us and an easy choice when the right house came available for us on Gill. It was easy for us to make that move. In my career, I’ve been a full-time Realtor since 1993, so I’ve just dated myself. Prior to the economic crash around oh-six, oh-seven, I worked for builders predominantly, you know, managing projects up to five hundred million. You know, some had, were in areas where there were small downtowns like Brighton and Grand Blanc that felt similar in scale to Farmington. Many of the communities did not have downtowns. I worked in Midtown, Detroit, Waterford, Southgate, Brownstown. And in each of those communities, I was there for two to three years. So my job was to go in to analyze product, determine the target market and just deep dive into each community and understand, you know, what are the strengths of this community? What does it have to offer homeowners? Local millage rates are a big factor in buying decisions and the services that are provided to people through those tax rates. You know, I feel my experience being exposed to so many other communities is one of the strengths that I, that I bring to council. Todd and I opened City Life Realty in 2007. Well, I started it and then he joined me, so originally, it was a woman-owned business, but now it’s a partnership, and we opened that office here on Grand River and Drake four years ago. In addition to all those things, in my professional career, I have been a member of the Professional Women in Building. I served as president for two years for the association in Southeastern Michigan. And now, if you have a long amount of time available, I can talk about my community involvement in Farmington. Since moving here, I have had such a passion for this community and one of the, the main things that I’ve done in the last five and a half years, I was approached by the Economic and Community Development Director, I remember specifically Kevin Christiansen running down the hall to catch me as I was applying for a different commission, and he grabbed me by the arm and said we need you on planning. So after my interview, I was appointed by council and have been reappointed for two additional terms where I’m currently serving, you know, and I think the experience I’ve gained in approving the city’s master plan, being involved in the capital improvement plan and all proposed development over the last five and half years means I’m coming to a council seat with more years of experience than all but one of the other candidates. I have been a board member on the Farmington Friends of the Library for the last four years and have served as president for the last two. I did assume the role of organizing the last three Oscar Shorts fundraiser events and raised over $11,000 for programming and materials for the Farmington Community Library. So, the library is a big passion. I’ve been very involved in the last four years. In 2017, I was asked to participate in the Public Art Blueprint for downtown and was asked to join the DDA public art committee that was formed to implement the blueprint. I helped with the Heart the Art fundraiser that gave us the ability to put up one of four murals that we have been able to implement in the last several years, and just recently, last year, I found an opportunity for a place-making grant through my local Realtor Association where I’m a member, and I procured a $5,500 grant for the mural on Sunflour Bakehaus that was designed and painted by Mary Lou Stropoli. So we now have four murals and a continuing sculpture program in Riley Park. I’m just really proud to be a part of that and to have implemented so many projects. You probably know I’m part of KickstART Farmington. So it is a non-profit, I’ve served on the selection screening committee for four years for the film festival, and I was on the board when we voted to open the gallery and shop, and our main goal there is to connect the community through art. We do art events, exhibits, art and author discussions, and workshops. Just recently, we had a big storm in our city that really did a lot of damage, and it happened to be the week before the Founders Festival. Mayor Bowman put a call out for volunteers to clean up Shiawassee Park in preparation of the 5K run, and I showed up with a wheelbarrow and a rake and got to work. 

Speaker 1

Good for you.

Speaker 2

And that’s just, you know, part of who I am. I’m not just, you know, going to be an idea man sitting in an office or sitting on the dais coming up with great ideas. I believe we need boots on the ground people. 

Speaker 1

So, is that part of why you ran for city council? Can you talk a little bit about how you made that decision? 

Speaker 2

Yes. So I’ve done a lot of volunteering in the city, and when I decide to spend some time on volunteering, I really want to connect to the opportunities where, you know, my passion, my knowledge, my experience fills a need, and I see that opportunity on council. There’s just so much potential, you know, especially up and down the Grand River Corridor to the east and west, you know, to make improvements and to have growth in our city. I’m just really invested in the long-term viability. I just want to make it a place where people can age in place, where young people like my nieces and nephews want to stay, they can afford to stay here, you know. And then that way, when I’m old, they can take care of me. 

Speaker 1

That’s a really good plan. It’s very well thought out. Okay. Well what, what do you see as Farmington’s biggest challenge and, and what kinds of solutions would you propose if you’re elected? 

Speaker 2

I see maintaining the level of services we provide without the constant need to increase property taxes as the biggest challenge, and I see growth as a means to increase revenue, you know, where currently the bulk of revenue comes from homeowner property taxes. We need growth to take that pressure off of increasing those millage rates, and I think it’s possible to look to the future and keep our mind open to the possibilities. You know, part of why I moved here is I celebrate the heritage of Farmington. I love this community. As a real estate agent, I’ve been exposed to so many different areas and have had other options of places to live, and I, I embrace the charm of our community. You know, growth doesn’t mean tearing down what we have and what we all love, and what we cherish. It means building on the opportunities up and down our corridor.

Speaker 1 

And how would you say that Farmington will be better by the end of your term? What what specifically do you hope to or expect to contribute? 

Speaker 2

Well, I cannot predict the future, but I do envision that the decisions I have to make for our community in the next few years will further our city’s well-thought and approved master plan. I expect to contribute a unique voice and a perspective based on the extensive time I’ve spent working in different cities where I’ve learned, what, what makes them viable, what makes them successful, what makes them great places to live and work and play, you know, and I, I will take the same boots-on-the-ground, results-oriented approach I’ve taken in other areas I volunteered on.

Speaker 1

Is there, is there anything you wanted to add, anything we haven’t talked about? 

Speaker 2

I think not at this time. 

Speaker 1

All right. I asked all the right questions. I like that. 

Speaker 2

I’ll have to make sure I get a copy of this to my niece and nephew, so they’re prepared to take care of me in the future. 

Speaker 1

There you go. Cathi, how can people find out more about your candidacy? Do you have a website Facebook page, anything like that? 

Speaker 2

I do have a Facebook page, Committee to Elect Cathi Waun. 

Speaker 1

Okay, so people can look for you on Facebook. 

Speaker 2

They can look for me, they can Google me. My phone number is everywhere. I really would love to hear what people have to say about our community. What, what their vision of the future is. It’s just not down to a couple of us to make those decisions for everyone. I really am looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts. 

Speaker 1

Okay. Well, thanks for taking a little bit of time today. I really appreciate it.

Speaker 2

Thank you, Joni. 

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