Farmington Voices: Steven Schneemann, 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
Steve Schneemann is running for a seat on Farmington City Council, and Steve, I really appreciate you taking a little time today. Why don’t we start off with a little bit of information about you? How long have you been in Farmington your community involvement that sort of thing.

Speaker 2
Sure. Well, first thanks Joni very much for this opportunity to be able to reach your readers and the residents of Farmington. So, you know, just to kind of dive in, I’ve been in Farmington, my family and I have been in Farmington, for 22 years. I grew up in Novi, Michigan, actually, Rochester, New York and Novi, and we actually lived in Farmington for about a year prior to moving out to California, where I went to graduate school in Berkeley. And when we moved back to Michigan about three years later, there was something about Farmington that kind of stuck with me that it was just a great little community that had a huge amount of potential, but back in the mid and early nineties when we lived there, here in Farmington, I saw more potential than I saw, you know, realization, so I wanted to be involved in moving the city, I think, in a, in a good direction, and fortunately, fortunately I feel like I’ve really been able to do that. We moved here then in the late nineties and I got involved in the early 2000s, in a pretty significant way and have been involved ever since, and I think, I’ve, you know, been a large part of what’s happened in Farmington over the last twenty years and how it’s changed, you know, my opinion for the better. But as I mentioned, we’ve been here twenty-two years. We bought a home in the historic district in 1999. And we’ve completely renovated it, raised our family there, three daughters. I’m an architect by training, I’ve got over thirty years of professional experience, and actually started the firm here in Farmington in early 2000s, 2003. Offices are still located here, in downtown Farmington. We have seven employees. As I mentioned we, we raised our family here in Farmington. All three of my daughters went through the Farmington schools, all graduated from Farmington High. They all played lacrosse, lacrosse was a big part of our family for many, many years. They were all MVPs, all captains of the varsity team in Farmington. There’s a lot of athletes in the family. My wife actually played lacrosse growing up as well, so that’s kind of where that gene came from. They all swam for the Glen for many years, all three of them. My oldest daughter’s now married to her high school sweetheart, Dakota Fraser, and they live down in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she’s a marketing director. My middle daughter is a civil engineer, and she lives in Northville, and my youngest daughter is going to be going into her junior year of college where she is studying communication, so they they did real well growing up here in Farmington and in the school system, and so we’re very proud of them, of course. As I mentioned, I got involved in the city nearly twenty years ago. I volunteered to be on a master planning committee, actually, which was just a great experience, and I got to meet some of the folks involved, I remember Joanne McShane was on that committee, many may know her as former mayor and long-serving council member, and it was really just some great building blocks, I think, from that committee that helped me continue to get involved in the city and in myriad ways. A couple of years after that, I was appointed to the DDA, and I served on the DDA for eight years. In 2013, I was appointed the city council, and I’ve been on city council since that time. I was the mayor pro tem from 2013 to 2017, and then, of course, I was also mayor from 2017 to 2019. Also served stints on the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and I’ve actually been on the DDA design committee since its Inception, and I can’t quite remember when that was, but it was probably at least fifteen, sixteen years ago. So I’ve been real involved, as I mentioned earlier, in the evolution of Farmington into what it is today and where it’s headed.

Speaker 1
So what so what made you decide to run for another term on Council?

Speaker 2
Well, that’s a good question, because I have been on for over eight years now, but I decided that it was really important, actually, that I run again and continue to serve because there are several projects and initiatives that are in the works. Just for example, the public-private partnership project of the MTC, which is a really important project for our city. Farmington Road Streetscape is something I’ve been working on for, believe It or not, ten years to see that realized, and finally, it looks like we’re going to be building that next summer which is very, very exciting, but there’s still a lot of work to do on it. So, yeah, there’s, there’s some things that I was really instrumental in developing and getting moving, MTC being one of them. The city purchasing that property for instance, that was something that was put together when I was serving as mayor so that we could not be at the mercy of the previous owner of that property, which was the school district, and they’ve got you know, they’re busy running the schools. And so I think it was important for us to have control of the MTC so we could determine what gets done there, and I think we’ve got an exciting, very exciting project plan for that property. So I want to continue to help guide those projects to successful implementation. I’m also running because you know, I’ve got, because I’ve served for so long, I’ve got a lot of experience and institutional knowledge about the city, about how it works, why it works the way it does, and then continually improving the way we do what we do and the services that we provide for the residents. So both, you know, my experience in the private sector, as an architect, as a planner, but then also in the public sector working with municipal government, I think that, you know, I’ve got a unique set of experiences that I can offer to the residents of the city. And there’s, there’s some other initiatives, too, that we’re working on, I think we’ll get to that in a future, in an upcoming question. But I’ve really got a lot invested in Farmington with my family, my home, my business, and so it’s vitally important to me that, that we thrive as community.

Speaker 1
What, what do you see as the city’s biggest challenge and what solutions will you propose in the event that you are elected?

Speaker 2
Well, look, there’s always threats to success, so those those don’t go away, those are ongoing, and it’s incumbent upon us to, you know, as city leaders, to make sure that we’re seeing those threats before they become real for the city and head them off. You know, we’re in a very competitive marketplace of communities, communities all around Michigan are vying for residents and businesses, and while we have great relationships with those communities and our neighbors, we also are competing with them in many ways. So that’s one of the challenges that is ongoing. Another one that is a little closer to home, that I think each of us as Farmington residents understands maybe a little too well, is that our infrastructure is aging. You know, my office building, for instance, on Grand River, we’ve had some sewer related issues over the years because we’ve got a very, very old sewer line that is, let’s just say it’s underperforming and, you know, take that example and you can extrapolate that across the city because many, many residents have expressed to me concerns about our infrastructure. So that is certainly another challenge we have in, in a community that’s been around as long as Farmington has. But, you know, I want to, I want to be the leading edge of helping to keep Farmington viable and addressing our infrastructure is a critical part of that. In fact, one of the things I did as mayor was work on putting together a question for the residents of Farmington, this was in 2017 and 2018, where, basically we asked residents if they were, because of the Headlee roll back and funding reductions from the state, the city residents were willing to participate at a higher level through an increased millage so that we could address some of those issues such as infrastructure. So that was an effort that I worked on while I was mayor. And obviously, the residents, you know, made the choice that they wanted to continue to invest in the future of Farmington. And you know, that was, to me that was a great example of democracy at its best, where the city was really deciding its own future. Another initiative that I’d like to look at us pursuing that we’ve talked about at a staff level and the council level, but we have yet to implement is actually an ordinance that governs the rental properties in the city. We need to have some basic minimum requirements to protect not only property owners, but also tenants, so that there can be code reviews and making sure that properties are safe, not only for the folks that live there but also for the surrounding neighbors. So, yeah, those are some of the challenges and those are some of the solutions that I would propose.

Speaker 1
How would Farmington be better by the end of your term? What what do you expect to contribute on council?

Speaker 2
By the end of my term, I expect to see several new projects and initiatives implemented that are going to fundamentally transform Farmington for the better, and I’ll have been an integral part of shepherding those projects to fruition. My experience as a planner, an architect, a developer and then obviously long time experience with municipal government, I think, will be invaluable in helping to guide those projects and those initiatives. So, you know, whether it’s a two-year, another two-year term or a four-year term, I expect to see some really wonderful transformations in Farmington in the next couple of years that then I will be instrumental in helping to bring to fruition.

Speaker 1
And is there anything else that you’d like to add anything that we haven’t haven’t talked about yet that you really wanted to get across?

Speaker 2
You know, I think I shared a lot of what’s on my heart, and I do have a real heart for Farmington. I love the city, I love the residents. I love my neighborhood, you know, this is, this is home to me, and I’ve, you know, really been blessed to be involved in the city as long as I have, to be such a, you know, have such an instrumental part in things taking shape over the past couple of decades. So, you know, I’m very thankful for that. I would also say that those that are listening that are thinking about voting in this upcoming election, if you think that Farmington is in a better place today than it was say, twenty, twenty-five years ago, you know, then I would suggest that you vote for me so that I can continue the work that we started so long ago, and that we’re, you know, reaping the benefits of today. Things are going to get even better, and I’m very excited about that. Anybody that wants to learn a little bit more about my platforms or who I am as a person can go to my Facebook page. It’s just my name Steve and then the number four, and then the word Farmington. So it’s Steve 4 Farmington. The number four. And they can link to my Facebook page and certainly get in touch with me. I’d be happy to talk with anybody that wants to talk to me about what their thoughts are, and for Farmington. So really thankful that I was able to do this today with you and appreciate you reaching out, Joni.

Speaker 1
I’m glad that we were able to, to find a time and, and it’s, you know, it’s just so important that people learn more about the candidates and, and that we have people informed when they go to the polls in November, so I appreciate your time.

Speaker 2
I couldn’t agree more. Thank you again.

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