Farmington Voices: Matt Strickfaden, 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
Matthew Strickfaden is a candidate for Farmington Hills City Council. Matt, thank you for joining us today, and let’s start with a little bit about you. How long have you lived in Farmington Hills, what’s been your community involvement, that sort of thing.

Matthew Strickfaden
Matthew Strickfaden (contributed)

Speaker 2
Well, thank you for having me, Joni. I really do appreciate it. I have been a nearly lifelong resident of Farmington Hills. I love Farmington Hills. That’s why I stayed here so long. I have built two successful businesses. One was a property management business and the other is a custom home building business, both of which I’ve done for almost forty years and I’m very proud to say that I coached at Farmington Gymnastics Center for almost thirty years. My involvement with the community, besides that, is I’m a council member currently for the City of Farmington Hills. I was unanimously selected by all council members to fill a vacancy left by Samantha Steckloff. And I’m also council liaison to the parks and rec commission, which I really enjoy, and I spent a lot of time working on the Farmington Hills City Council, which, by the way, I think, is a remarkably great Council. We work together really well, we get along, we get things done. The mayor, council really is a terrific council, and I would really love to see it stay just the way it is.

Speaker 1
Okay, that, that answers a little bit, my next question. Why, why did you decide after being appointed that you would run for a council seat?

Speaker 2
Well, I got extremely excited about the idea that the city council, the city manager, the mayor, so many other folks with whom I shared a 20-year vision for the city of Farmington Hills, and as you know, we haven’t really had a 20-year vision for a long time, they were so excited about it, and city council unanimously supported it and endorsed it. And that’s when I knew that I had an opportunity to do something wonderful for the City of Farmington Hills. And that’s really what motivated me to run for election and to see that through. And that’s my, that’s my intent.

Speaker 1
Okay. What do you see as the city’s biggest challenge? And what kinds of solutions will you propose if you are elected?

Speaker 2
Well, I think the word challenge, if you don’t mind me changing it, and if you do, I’ll, I’ll work within that parameter, but I think it’s more an opportunity right now because the city runs extremely well. We have a great budget. We have a great credit rating. I think we have an incredibly good public safety system with police and fire departments, DPW. Every director does such a marvelous job, really, terrific folks at Farmington Hills city offices, as well as a great council and a great mayor. So I don’t see enormous insurmountable challenges, what I do see is wonderful, incredible opportunities, and the opportunity to be part of a 20-year vision that I can actually do something about getting it accomplished, is what inspires me, and the challenge that I see with that opportunity is you can’t just present something as a PowerPoint presentation and get people to clap and say, yay, that’s wonderful, and then go to sleep and don’t do anything about it. That’s when the hard work begins. And the way I go about doing that, is not only do I stay in touch constantly with the mayor and the council members, but I have made it a mission to get to know and get to understand every single director down at City Hall, almost every single employee at City Hall. I understand what they want, what they need, how I can do something about helping that. I spent twenty hours talking to the Planning Commission individually after the presentation on June 14th, about the 20-year vision for the City of Farmington Hills, trying to get to work, get to know them, get to understand them, get to understand what they want, what they’d like to see done, and try to get them to understand what a 20 year vision could look like for the City of Farmington Hills. So beyond setting up that communication network, which has been missing really in the City of Farmington Hills for the last couple of years, for lots of different reasons, I, I’ve managed to make arrangements so that council and Planning Commission will meet at least four times a year to discuss things back and forth, to get on the same page, to rework the master plan, so that it incorporates the 20-year vision. And then I am willing, I have made myself available to the mayor and to the city manager, that I will work hand-in-hand with the economic development director to go out and work with every developer who’s interested in coming in and taking their properties on Twelve Mile Road and redeveloping them into mixed-use residential and retail. I’d be willing to go and help them with that in any capacity the city or the mayor sees fit. So I want to work continually over the next four years to see that vision come true to see that 12 Mile corridor redeveloped into as many as forty four micro communities, each of which would be wonderful, exciting, entertaining, and a place, a community in which people from around the world would want to actually come in and live. And with the additional revenue generated from those communities, we can do so many incredible things. We could get up to a hundred million dollars a year in extra school aid funding. If we get five thousand new residents to come into these forty four different developments, we could get up to twenty million dollars a year in additional revenue to the general fund that’s over and above what we’re collecting now in those office buildings. A portion, just a portion, of that money can be used to do some of the most wonderful incredible initiatives to make people want to come to Farmington Hills and live, and make people who are here want to stay, and make children who are just babies right now want to be part of and live in this community when they get to be twenty or thirty years old.

Speaker 1
Well, let’s just talk about the near-term. Let’s let’s talk about the next four years. How would Farmington Hills be better by the end of your term if you’re elected? What do you expect to contribute?

Speaker 2
Well, I think what I can contribute is, is getting that 20-year vision as far along as humanly possible. I don’t think a 20-year vision needs twenty years to be completed. It’s a 20-year vision in name only, in my opinion, in four years, we could be well underway with the redevelopment of the Twelve Mile corridor into a city center, be well on our way to be able to institute many of the initiatives in the 20-year vision and have a sustainable income source in order to fund those projects. So in four years, I know it says a 20-year vision, but I would be incredibly disappointed if we weren’t well underway on completing all of the initiatives at least the set up for them and instituting them and the initiatives as well as the redevelopment of Twelve Mile Road. That’s what I think I can be most helpful with, that’s what I want to try to accomplish, and that’s what I think I’m going to be good at doing.

Speaker 1
Okay. Is there anything that you wanted to get across that that we haven’t talked about yet?

Speaker 2
Well, I think it’s important to have continuity on city council. I think city council is really terrific, the way it is. As I’ve mentioned before, I would love to see it stay intact. I think we all get along incredibly well and work together wonderfully, and I think we’re all like minded in terms of the types of things that we’d like to see Farmington Hills become, looking at things like eco-living, sustainable energy initiatives with autonomous vehicles and green city initiatives, to be able to utilize high-speed broadband not just for consumer use but all the different things that can happen when you have that type of technology and infrastructure in place. Those things certainly can be drones and delivery vehicles and people movers all being done, both autonomously and electrically. I would love to see the arts for this community becomes something that’s a permanent set of exhibits, so that Farmington Hills would be considered the art capital of the state, where it’s not just a two-day exhibit, but there’s art exhibits everywhere in every new redevelopment, every city-owned piece of property. Arts, including murals, and excuse me, murals and concerts and sculptures and projection mapping. All of that should be a permanent part of the City of Farmington Hills, to encourage people to want to move here and live here. I really would love to see fountains put in virtually every place they’re sustainable, and when those areas become really cold, we can turn those into ice skating ribbons and all sorts of outdoor activities where we shouldn’t go to sleep for the five months a year where it’s cold here. I’d like to have life enhancement initiatives with senior care and wellness, mental health and wellness, bike trail expansions and high-speed broadband initiatives, and all the things that that come with that. I would love to see learning to learn or cradle-to-K initiatives, where children are taught how to learn from a very young age. They’re not taught what to learn, they’re just taught how to learn. Babies to Bobbers initiatives, where every child really of any age can learn how to swim for free. I would love to see vocational and, and trade initiatives brought into fruition where we offer those types of classes at The Hawk, life enhancement skills and training where we teach basic yet necessary life skills, which are absent from the current curriculum. I would love to see a massive expansion of the bike trails and walking trails that we need to work in concert with the Grand River Corridor and the 12 Mile redevelopment so that they work in concert, not in competition with each other, and so to connect those with bike paths and walking paths, along with all the subdivisions in Farmington Hills, not just north-south and east-west corridors for biking. I’d love to see mountain bike trails be developed. Skating ribbons I think are wonderful, and ice sculptures, and bonfire attractions, and skating ribbons are really on any flat surface that’s not utilized in the wintertime, and they can spray them down and turn them into ice skating ribbons. And I just think that’s a wonderful use of that space. I’d love to see by way of example, at 13 Mile and Farmington Road, there’s a detention pond there that they try to kind of hide because it’s really unsightly. I’d love to see us work with the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as businesses in the area and our own wonderful engineering department to come up with permanent art sculptures and displays in that pond, so that it becomes an attraction instead of a detriment to the city in terms of visual expression. I really think that there are endless numbers of initiatives that can be funded by the redevelopment, the extra revenue generated from a 12 Mile redevelopment. And that is what I want to concentrate my effort on. It’s a lot but I’m up to the challenge. I want to work this, I don’t want to just say, my work here is done because I’ve done a PowerPoint presentation. I want to work every single day with all the people necessary to make these things come true.

Speaker 1
Okay. And how can people find out more about your candidacy? Do you have a Facebook page and email address or website something you’d like to share?

Speaker 2
I do, and they can also see the 20-year vision, it’s a button on the homepage of my website and that is Matt for Council. So it’s all lower case, m-a-t-t, the number four, council dot org.

Speaker 1
All right. Thank you, Matt. I appreciate your time today.

Speaker 2
Joni, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I really appreciate it. It’s wonderful talking to you.

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