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Get to Know Candidates for Shelby Township Supervisor Before Voting

Take a look at the two candidates for Shelby Township Supervisor, incumbent Rick Stathakis and David Erickson.

On Nov. 6, Shelby Township voters will hit the polls and vote on their leadership, from the President of the United States to the new Board of Trustees.

Voters will decide who will be the next township supervisor, clerk, treasurer and four board members for the next four years. 

During the primary elections, Patch reached out to every candidate and asked them to return a questionnaire and include some biographical information.

Both candidates for supervisor, incumbent Rick Stathkis and newcomer David Erickson, participated in the candidate profiles. Now let's take a look at the two hopefuls.

Stathakis

Stathakis, a Republican, was elected as supervisor in 2008.

He has lived in the township for 11 years, along with his wife and three children.

Stathakis has worked in various positions of sales management and marketing, including 17 years with Pepsi-Cola North America. Stathakis graduated from the University of Detroit with a major in accounting.

He is involved with his church, St. Peter Lutheran Church and School in
Macomb, and is a member of the Macomb County Republican Party and a Charter Member of the National Republican Party.

Erickson

Erickson's name was not on the primary ballot because he is running as an independent.

Erickson, who has lived in Shelby Township for 17 years, has served on the Police and Fire Civil Service Commission for 10 years, and on the Zoning Board of Appeals for two.

The former U.S. Navy veteran and retired engineer from Rockwell, currently works for Robotic Systems Joint Project Office at Selfridge ANGB supporting Soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan and Kuwait with ground combat robotic systems.

Erickson and his wife Jan have two daughters, one son and three grandchildren.

Questions

1. What led you to try for the post of supervisor initially?

Stathakis: I wanted to work with the Board of Trustees and employees to:

  • Stop spending township general budget reserves in order to balance our budget
  • Reduce the budget by streamlining government
  • Engage the residents to take part in setting township priorities
  • Stop the $23 million police/court center and $50 million "campus"initiatives
  • Improve the Fire, EMS and Fire Departments building infrastructure and equipment
  • Ensure that taxes NOT be raised, services NOT be cut and, if possible, no layoffs
  • Bring transparency to our local government, and
  • Eliminate no-bid contracts.

We succeeded. Please go to: www.RickStathakis.com for more info.

Erickson: The best way to invoke meaningful political reform at the state and federal levels is to start things in motion at the local level. The pitiful state of the partisan “blockade” in this country serves no one but the politicians. They are spot-on in telling you who to blame and they fail miserably in getting the job done for the citizens. They have long forgotten their duty to serve their citizen customer first, last and always.

The greatest lesson I was taught in my youth was “change begins with me”.   This is the central catalyst in my decision to run fun for this office. Whether or not I am elected in November, the voters of our community will have been given the opportunity to send the message upward that nothing less than sincere, legitimate and honest actions will be acceptable.

I firmly believe that no one should serve more than one term as an elected public official. Once that term is over, the only thing they should be able to receive is at most, a $25 plaque and cab fare home. No pensions, health benefits, or other compensation whatsoever once the term is over. Public service should never be a job or a career.  It should be an opportunity for individuals to come forward with new and fresh ideas that continuously move a community forward.  Four years ago our current supervisor stated on the front porch of my home “I’m just like you, Mr. Erickson.  I believe that no one should serve a second term in office.”   

All evidence to the contrary.

2. Why have you decided to run for re-election? What do you enjoy about this post? 

Stathakis: I have decided to run for re-election because there is still work to be done.  I want to continue to work with our employees and Board of Trustees to make our government better by reducing costs and implementing more efficient services. It's been a big challenge, and it's taken a lot of time and energy, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to lead our township.

Erickson: To begin with:

  • Remove the township labor attorney from all direct involvement in the negotiation of township labor contracts. This resource should only be used to provide legal guidance as may be requested by the board.   It is the direct responsibility of the Board of Trustees to negotiate these contracts and to do so in a good faith manner that leads to a win-win solution and avoids the perils of binding arbitration. Going forward, Defined Contribution only for new hires in the Police and Fire Departments.
  • Stop the deficit spending. Spending cannot exceed income, period! Using reserve funds generated in a strong economy to “plug the holes” in “balancing” a budget is doing nothing more than to provide a false sense of security to the township residents.   It is a most irresponsible practice and absolutely shortsighted.   Unlike Washington, we cannot print money in Shelby Township.
  • Ensure equal access for all residents regardless of which geographical area of the township they reside.  Access to township services and the priority and importance by which your concerns are addressed shall not and will not be proportional to the amount of taxes you pay.   
  • The poor manner in which people are treated at township board meetings is at best, appalling.  Park the petty politics, self-serving agenda’s and personal issues in the parking lot.   Once you enter the township building your only consideration can only be your responsibility and duty to the residents. It is so befuddling to me how our current board members, all members of the same political party, are so consumed with infighting.  
  • Eliminate the need to engage paid consultants by leveraging the talents and life experiences of our Shelby Township residents.  Paid consultants can be “bought” to represent any side of an issue.   There is significant amount of intellectual capital held by our township residents.  Let’s not leave this valuable resource group untapped.
  • When you ask me a question, you deserve an honest, clear answer.   That answer will be provided to you with any supporting documentation and without political spin.   If I cannot provide the answer on the spot due to the details not being at my fingertips, I will respond back to you within (3) business days or update you as to my progress in getting the information for you.  

3. If elected, what township issues would you like to focus on?

Stathakis: I am focusing on pension changes and continuing our 4-year record of progress. Our overall financial strategy has been well-received and highly effective, and we want it to remain intact.

Erickson: Ensuring the safety and welfare of all of our residents with an emphasis on our children and seniors.

  • Reducing the impact of legacy costs with a strong focus on long-term pension debt.
  • Open, honest, clear and timely communication with residents. Issues are only transparent if the residents believe they are transparent.
  • Reducing the cost of providing services to the township without sacrificing the level or quality of service.   We need to be as financially lean as practicable without sacrificing the desirability factor so that outsiders continue to join our community as residents, merchants, consumers and investors that grow our community in a responsible manner.
  • Perform a post mortem on the contract bid process implemented by the current township board.  This would be a valuable step that will allow us to determine what bid process elements served the best interest of our community and those did not.   Any improvement opportunities uncovered will be evaluated for merit and implemented as appropriate to better benefit the residents. Most importantly; No Bid, No Contract

4. What personal and professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

Stathakis: Saving tax dollars and improving township service.  Before I was elected, the township general fund had incurred a $2.3 million net deficit in 2007 and 2008.  Since then, we have added a $4.1 million net surplus.  No taxes were increased, no employees were laid off, and no services were cut.

Erickson: Having had the privilege to serve my country in the U.S. Navy in my early years and later having the privilege to serve as thesis advisor and mentor to over 100 engineering students. I also served as a mentor and sponsor of an Enterprise team at Michigan Technological University as well as a Senior Design Project judge. Mentoring is as much a benefit to the provider as it is to the recipient.

During my engineering and program management career, I developed a keen expertise in the areas of risk assessment and mitigation, problem solving, budget management and control, critical business issue analysis, error-proofing, and value analysis.  I was able to successfully lead several teams in implementing these methodologies to improve powertrain manufacturing processes, improve workplace safety and reduce total life cycle costs.

On the personal side, I am extremely proud of the type of people my daughters and son have become.  They are accomplished, focused, compassionate, and giving.  My wife, Jan is my best friend and provides me with an enormous amount of love, support and encouragement. She truly exemplifies the highest ideals of what a partner should be and keeps me well-grounded. She is intelligent and very well read.  Her keen insightfulness into important issues provides me with a valuable perspective. Together, we will add value to the township.

5. Is there one person who has been the most influential in your life?

Stathakis: My kindergarten teacher.  She taught us to listen, be respectful toward each other and share time in the sand box. 

Erickson: My mother, Vienna Erickson.  She was a very loving and giving person who was deeply committed to helping others especially those in need.  She led by example and worked tirelessly in the community as a volunteer to improve the quality of life of many individuals and asked for nothing in return.   She involved all of us in these activities so that we would experience the importance of community service and carry these examples of stewardship forward in our lives.  After her passing, we had the following inscription placed upon her headstone so that everyone that read it would know the kind of life she lived and the ideals she exemplified.  She touched the lives of many and gave them hope.

6. What are key ways you would have residents make a difference locally? 

Stathakis: Residents could make a big difference for themselves by attending our annual township Priorities Setting meeting in September.  I started this initiative because I wanted the residents to have a chance to voice their opinion regarding how to spend the township's money.  The resident's input at this meeting is used to establish the township's Top Ten priorities each year.

Erickson:I would encourage the residents of Shelby Township to reach out to their neighbors in a true spirit of friendship.  I would do this by example.

Volunteer in any capacity to help others and the township as a whole. Years ago the Department of Public Works needed some assistance with the potable water lift station on 26 Mile Road. I volunteered my time to provide some technical assistance to resolve an issue and make some improvements.  I also developed some courseware and taught the DPW team the basics of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems to assist them in better supporting the lift station internally reducing their dependence on outside contractors.

7. What do you like most about the Shelby Township community?

Stathakis: Do you have a favorite spot in Shelby? I like the parks, trails and tightly-knit community.  My favorite place to be is at home with my family and friends.

Erickson: The volunteerism displayed by members of various commissions and committees as well as those who volunteer to help their neighbors and those in need.  Volunteerism is critical to the future of any community. Also, the beauty of our parks and our magnificent tree-lined community.

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