Farmington Voices: Jon Aldred, Farmington Hills 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

Jon Aldred is a candidate for City Council in Farmington Hills and Jon, I want to thank you for taking a few minutes today to let voters know a little bit more about you and your candidacy. Let’s start out by learning more about you. How long have you lived in Farmington Hills, your career information, community involvement, that sort of thing.

Jon Aldred
Jon Aldred (contributed)

Speaker 2

Sure. Well, thank you. First of all, thank you, Joni, for having me. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. Yeah, I’ve been a Farmington Hills resident for over 20 years. But as you may be able to tell from my accent, I wasn’t born here, and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about Farmington Hills is the wonderful wide range of cultures and backgrounds we have here. I was actually born in England, and my wife Heather and I moved here from England in, in 1993, and we have two now adult children who were raised here in, in Farmington Hills. So, that’s my background. In terms of my professional career, my background is in engineering. I’ve worked in the automotive industry, and I currently serve as director of product management for a global engineering software company. So my job is in the area of software with an engineering background. And that professional experience really requires me to deal with a lot of complex problems, working with teams of many people, trying to find effective solutions in getting things done. And I know other people have made that transition as well from engineering into city governance, and I believe that those, those are very transferable skills that I believe will be valuable in city council, and I also believe, to the City of Farmington Hills. So that’s the summary of my background.

Speaker 1

And did you have any community involvement, any volunteer kinds of things that you’ve done that you wanted to add?

Speaker 2

Yeah, for many years, my family’s been involved with the Beechview Swim Club, which is a local swim club, so our children have been involved with that, I’m also involved with church and also involved with mentoring small business owners, I work with a few small business owners who have startups and some larger organizations to help mentor them with their businesses. So those are some of the things I do in the community.

Speaker 1

Why did you decide to run for a Council seat?

Speaker 2

Well, for me, the last 18 months, for me and many people, the last 18 months have obviously had a very profound impact, and challenging times put things into perspective for me. What’s important in my life? Where am I spending my time? Where am I putting my assets? And, you know, that pushes us out of our comfort zones to see new possibilities, to stand up, get involved and, and create new solutions. So this is, this is something not only for me, but then looking around and seeing you know, what’s happening in the community because, you know, we face some unprecedented challenges, not just in Farmington Hills but more broadly, but even if you look at Michigan, for example, 35 percent of small businesses in Michigan that were closed due to COVID restrictions have remained closed. And that includes many right here in Farmington Hills, whether it’s gyms or restaurants. And so that has been a lot of impact. And, and that’s caused mental health issues, domestic abuse, drug overdoses, talking to the police department. They tell me those things are all significantly increased over the last 18 months. So these are, these are real issues in the community. And so I’m motivated to, okay, I want to get involved and help find solutions for those things. But those aren’t the only reasons why I want to get involved and find solutions. I am also running because I really love Farmington Hills, I think it’s a great city. After, after we moved here from England, originally we spent the first year, the first year we moved here, we lived in an apartment in Farmington Hills. We liked it. We then moved into, we had an apartment in Southfield, then lived in Troy for a bit, but then when it came to, to settle down and raise a family, we really wanted to move back to Farmington Hills. So we bought a house here, and we’ve been here ever since. So we think it’s a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. That’s why I’m motivated to help keep it that way. So those are some of the reasons why I’m running.

Speaker 1

What do you see as the city’s biggest challenge and what solutions would you propose if you’re elected?

Speaker 2

Well, one of the biggest issues that comes up when I’m speaking to residents is the power outage problem that we’re having. I can understand we have occasional power outages due to major storms, that makes sense, but folks tell me when, uh, you know, they’ve recently lost power, even when the weather’s been perfectly fine. In fact, I was in a neighborhood recently talking to people, they said they lost power three times that week, and we hadn’t even had any storms. So this is happening too frequently, on too large a scale in our community, and it’s also taking too long, then, for the power to be restored following an outage. And I understand we have, we’ve had extreme weather, large number of storms. It’s understandable. However, we then also need a system that is more resilient, and maybe we need a system that’s more resilient than ever to outages, such that if there is a, if there is a storm, if there is damage, then the damage is not so widespread. Now talking to DTE, my understanding is that tree trimming will help, and they’re behind on their tree trimming, and they admit they’re behind on their tree trimming. So that’s, that’s good. That’s one thing. But I also believe that from what I understand, there is also older equipment that needs work. So that issue would be a priority for me. I talked to people who have medical conditions. They need the power to be on, and, uh, we can’t just take DTE at their word. We need to hold them accountable to make the necessary improvements to keep our residents’ power on, you know, and our businesses open. So that’s, that’s certainly one issue. If I can mention a couple of other things that I, that I see as well. One is a, a trend that I see again in business for people to be working from home, you know, a lot of people are still working from home and the impact of that is that companies are going to be consolidating offices. They’re going to be closing offices. And I believe over the next two to four years, that is actually going to impact our real estate, office real estate market. So I believe that’s going to start impacting our tax revenues that we get and so we need to be thinking ahead. We need to be planning for that. What’s that going to mean for our tax revenues? How are we going to, how are we going to make up for that? And I think the most, the best way to do that is really to attract more young families to the, to the city and that may require some redevelopments, some new green spaces, and make Farmington Hills an attractive place for young people to have. We don’t want to be closing schools. We want to be opening schools, right? We want to have a city that’s vibrant, and I think this could actually be an opportunity for us to have some redevelopments, to remove some office areas and convert that into something. I support some of the plans that the council’s looking at for residential mixed-use, more green spaces that will attract families. And, and one one more thing. I think another impact of COVID-19 has been, as I mentioned, the number of mental health issues, substance abuse issues and who’s really on the front line of that is our public safety personnel of the fire and the police. And so, that’s why I’m putting my full support behind the public safety millage that’s also going on the ballot this fall, which is to renew the full 1.7 mills that was approved by voters back in 2011. So if we don’t do that, we’re going to, otherwise we’re going to have job cuts, significant job cuts to police and fire, and that doesn’t just affect them, it obviously impacts the safety of our community and that’s not something I want to see happen. So those are some things that I see are the challenges and some things that I would, I would be supporting if I was on council.

Speaker 1

How would Farmington Hills be better by the end of your term? What do you expect to contribute as a council member?

Speaker 2

Okay. Well, first of all, I want to say Farmington Hills is a wonderfully run city. And when I talk to people on doorsteps and talk to residents, people love the city. They think it’s a well-run city, and that’s great. So, my goal is to build upon the good work of previous councils, but addressing some of these new challenges, I think are facing us in the coming years. So how would it be better by the end of my term? Well, again, I would, the power outages, I mentioned working with Council to get major improvements in this area holding our utility companies accountable. People are also concerned about cost of living, so people are concerned that city taxes here, where you compare it with other neighboring municipalities, can be high, and so it’s important that we have a well-run city, but it’s important that we’re getting good value for those tax dollars. So if I was on council, I would work to find effective and responsible solutions related to the tax dollars as well. And attracting young families to the community, as I mentioned, and also making sure that Farmington Hills is a place where crime is continually decreasing. Again, Farmington Hills Police Department has done a wonderful job over the last ten years. You look at the statistics, keeping crime and not just stopping it from going up, but actually decreasing, and so we must consider to have a well-funded law enforcement and public safety to keep that trend going. So that’s, those are all things that I would say are part of my, part of what I would contribute on council.

Speaker 1

Now in our discussion, is there anything that’s come up that you would like to add or any other thoughts about your candidacy?

Speaker 2

Well, one last thing. I’d like to say that, that integrity is really important to me, and I’ll work hard to represent the interest of the residents to the best of my ability and to do what I say I’m going to do, and again continue to make Farmington Hills a safe and enjoyable place to live, work, and raise a family. I think this is something that is important to me and that I would stand behind and work hard to help deliver. That’s what I’ll bring. And so, no, that’s it, Joni. I think, again, I’d like to point people in the direction of where they can get more information, if that’s okay.

Speaker 1

Absolutely. Yes.

Speaker 2

Yeah, so people can go to jonaldred dot com, so I invite people to connect with me there online or on my Facebook page at Jon Aldred for city council, and I’d certainly appreciate the people considering supporting me in the November 2nd election.

Speaker 1

All right. Well, thank you again, Jon. I really appreciate your time today.

Speaker 2

Thank you so much for the call. Appreciate it.

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