To kick off election coverage, White Lake-Highland Patch has sent out a survey to candidates running for office in White Lake and Highland. The following is the Q&A response from Highland trustee candidate Mary Pat Chynoweth who is running for the open seat in the Aug. 7 primary.
Patch: How long have you lived in Highland?
Chynoweth: I have lived in Highland for 32 years.
Patch: What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in?
- Highland Adult Activity Center Advisory Council – Secretary
- Church of the Holy Spirit
- Relay for Life
- Adopt A Road
- United Way
Volunteer work at:
- Sparks in the Park
- Milford Memories
- Huron Valley Educational Foundation
- March of Dimes
Patch: What drew you to run for Trustee?
Chynoweth: I enjoy being active in community with my children, church, schools and involvement in community events. I first ran for a Trustee position eight years ago when two trustees indicated they were not running for re-election. I love Highland and I am honored to serve as a trustee; it is an opportunity to be involved and to make a difference in my community.
Patch: What personal and professional experiences make you qualified to hold that position?
Chynoweth: In addition to eight years of experience serving as a Trustee, I have a degree in Business Administration. In the past year I completed classes to be certified as Michigan School Business Officials: Business Office Specialist, and since taking office have also completed Michigan State: Master Citizen Planner Program, and Michigan Township Association: Township Governance Academy. I believe in being a lifelong learner and continue to attend classes and conferences to keep current on Michigan legislation and laws.
Patch: What is the most important issue facing the township and what do you intend to do about it during your term in office?
Chynoweth: The issue that has the most impact on Highland Township is the state of the economy. Loss of jobs, houses in foreclosure and declining enrollment has resulted in empty buildings, houses and schools. The forecast from Oakland County is that the economy is on the upswing but the comeback will be slow.
To help and encourage Highland businesses return and occupy empty buildings. I would advocate for professional development for our staff enabling them to offer the highest level of customer service in a timely and professional manner for our public and help them with the often cumbersome “red tape”. I would also encourage collaborative efforts with the DDA and Highland White Lake Business Association to promote and encourage businesses in Highland.
Patch: How do you plan to address the vacant buildings in Highland including the former Highland Middle School building?
Chynoweth: I believe that Highland has many unique features including state, county and township parks, lakes, and open space that make it a desirable place to live and operate a business. We are close enough to major thoroughfares to be accessible yet maintain a rural character. We need to promote these assets to attract business as well as families. When businesses owners or taxpayers visit our township offices we need to provide them with the highest level of customer service in a timely and professional manner for all our public and help them with the often cumbersome “red tape”.
We need to turn the vacant middle school into and opportunity rather than a problem. One option is utilizing the building as a shared facility for school and township use to expand opportunities for our senior center, recreation and community use. Another possibility could be a shared board room for both township and school board meetings.
Patch: What is your vision for Highland Township, where do you see the township in 10 or even 20 years, and what does the township need to do now to realize that vision?
Chynoweth: My vision is for Highland to keep its rural atmosphere that drew people to Highland, balanced with a welcoming climate for business. We need to encourage business growth in compliance with the Master Plan. For families and community I would like to see the DDA complete their sidewalk project and inclusion in the Oakland County non-motorized trail system through grants and fund raising that would offer opportunities for healthy and active living.