Category: Candidate Questionnaires

Tri-County Times Candidate Questionnaire (2013)

Tim Jagielo from the Tri-County Times is working on a story about the upcoming Fenton City Council election for the Sunday Oct 24th issue of the paper.  Below are the answers I submitted, including some additional details on how I think we can engage the Fenton community.

Candidate Questions for Tri-County Times article on FCC candidates

Name: David McDermott
Age: 41
Residency, for how long: 7 years
Education: State Univ. of New York, College at Buffalo – B.A. Business with minor in Innovation & Problem Solving
Employment: Director of Global Sales Enablement for Kelly Services
Family: Sara (wife); 3 Children (David – 9, Megan – 8 and Connor – 6)

1. Why are you running?
I’m running for Fenton City Council because I think we can do better.  The biggest opportunity we have to improve the quality of life in Fenton is to build a more engaged community.  Strong neighborhoods, a healthy business climate, and a safe city all start with community engagement.

2. What experience do you bring to the table?
A balanced City Council should represent a cross section of the community they serve.  To be effective, members of City Council need varied backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations.

My experience includes both the business and community sectors, with over 20 years of experience building strong relationships, financially successful organizations, non-profit executive board membership, and a track record of building high performing teams, both paid and volunteer.

I’m active with Fenton community organizations including Fenton Little League (Board, Vice President), Cub Scouts (Committee Chair), Upward Basketball (Coach), St. John’s Applefest (Festival General Chair), and I’m currently appointed to Fenton’s Planning Commission.  I also have extensive non-profit board and leadership experience, including past roles with the United Way of Greater Cleveland, Junior Achievement of Western New York, the Cleveland International Program, and Niagara County Community College.

With each new role, I’ve strived to make an impact.  I plan to drive positive change in our community, empowering residents and businesses to be part of a successful Fenton.

3. What is the biggest challenge the city is facing?
Like many of my neighbors, I’m excited about Fenton’s progress downtown.  A vibrant downtown attracts visitors and strengthens our local economy, but Fenton is at a critical point.  We need to look beyond downtown.  Our roads need attention.  Our water and sewer systems are aging.  Our public safety teams need new equipment.  We need to use the resources we have to promote better neighborhoods and a healthy business community.

As a father to three young children, I’m keenly aware of issues facing the youth of our community – drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and neighborhood safety.  As a City Council, we should lead the community in promoting awareness and giving kids the tools they need to make better decisions.

4. How should those challenges be dealt with?
Economic development and community participation need to be a focus for City Council.  They should be aggressively engaging with regional development organizations, identifying prospects that would compliment our existing business community, and proactively working with our state government to design incentive programs that reward long-term investment in Fenton.  The more successful our community becomes, the more community participation increases, and more community participation results in a safer, better Fenton.

Basically, City Council needs to be better at embracing the role of advocate for our residents and our business community.

5. What changes would you like to see on council?
Our City Council wants you to have a voice, to participate and understand city priorities.  They want the best community possible, just like all of us.  The challenge is that they put the burden on the residents.  The residents have to ask the questions, and sometimes they don’t know where to begin.

I want to change that.  I want City Council to create an ongoing conversation focused on services provided in the city.  Talk to businesses about what it takes to help them grow, talk to residents about what improves their neighborhoods, talk to public safety about what they need to be effective.

City Council should work to ensure that Fenton is a “community”.

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Flint Journal Candidate Questionnaire (2013)

The Flint Journal is the largest newspaper in this area with a Sunday circulation of 60k.  I’m not sure how many they reach online, but they’re part of mlive.com so it’s pretty big.  These were pretty straightforward questions, which works out since we had about 3 days to complete them.  Will be interesting to see how the other candidates answered the questions.

Questionnaire for City Council Candidate
 

1. What is the most important issue facing residents in your ward?
Like many of my neighbors, I’m excited about Fenton’s progress downtown. A vibrant downtown attracts visitors and strengthens our local economy,but Fenton is at a critical point.  We need to look beyond downtown.  Our roads need attention.  Our water and sewer systems are aging.  Our public works teams can barely keep up with the urgent calls.  We need to use the resources we have to promote better neighborhoods and a healthy business community.

As a father to three young children, I’m keenly aware of the issues our youth face – drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and neighborhood safety.  As a City Council,we should lead the community in promoting awareness and giving kids the tools they need to make better decisions.   To me, the public safety formula is simple – more community participation results in a safer, better Fenton.

2. What do you plan to do that would improve the quality of life of residents in your ward?
The biggest opportunity we have to improve the quality of life in Fenton is to build a more engaged community.   A strong downtown, residential growth, a healthy business climate, and a well developed master plan all start with community engagement.

Our City Council want’s you to have a voice, to participate and understand city priorities. They want the best community possible, just like all of us.  The challenge is that the burden starts with the residents.

The residents have to ask questions, and sometimes they don’t know where to begin.  I would like to change that, to create an ongoing conversation focused on services provided in the city.  Talk to businesses about what it takes to help them grow, and to residents about what improves their neighborhoods.  Help them know about the issues before they’ve even asked the questions.

3. What do you feel qualifies you as a candidate for city council?
An effective City Council should have members with diverse backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations.   My background includes 20 years of business and community organization experience,building strong relationships, financially successful organizations, and a track record of leading high performing teams, both paid and volunteer.

I’m active with Fenton community organizations including Fenton Little League (Board, Vice President), CubScouts (Committee Chair), Upward Basketball (Coach), St. John’s Applefest(Festival Chair).  I’m currently appointed to Fenton’s Planning Commission, and have extensive non-profit board experience, including leadership roles.

I’m focused on driving positive change for the residents of Fenton. I think we can make an already great Fenton community better.

4. What are some ideas you have for the revitalization of Fenton’s industrial park? Incentives? Aggressive recruitment?
Economic development should be a primary focus of City Council.  They should aggressively engage with regional development organizations to identify prospects that compliment our existing business community, then develop a “pitch” that can be shared with target companies globally.

Our industrial parks offer easily accessible highways, availability of a skilled labor pool, and ample space to build.  We should leverage the benefits of our community as well – affordable housing, good cost of living, excellent schools, and many community activities.

Any program will likely require incentives at the local and state level.  We should be prepared, proactively working with our state government to design incentive programs that reward long-term investment in our community by prospective companies.   I believe this is also an opportunity to engage the community in identifying targeted industries, and recruiting companies.

City Council should embrace the role of advocate to both our residents and our business community.

Fenton Chamber of Commerce Candidate Questionnaire (2013)

On October 8th at 7:00 pm you will have to opportunity to meet and ask questions of all the candidates for the upcoming City of Fenton Mayoral and City Council elections.  In preparation for the event, candidates have been asked to submit answers to a series of questions that help define their position on issues impacting the City of Fenton.  I’ve posted the questions below, and will add my answers the day of the event.  Hope to see you there!

2013 Questionnaire for Mayoral and Council Candidates

1. What qualifications do you bring to the city council?
A balanced City Council represents a cross section of the community they serve.  For the Council to be effective, elected officials should bring varied backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations.

My experience includes both the business and community sectors.  I have more than 20 years experience in business, with strong relationship building skills, non-profit executive board experience, and a track record of building high performing teams, both paid and volunteer.  I was also recently appointed to Fenton’s Planning Commission.

With a business mindset, focused on driving positive change for Fenton residents, I seek to continually improve an already great Fenton community.

2.  What would you like to be remembered for after your time on the city council?
My personal goal is to be remembered as a person that advocated for the residents and business community in a way that fostered growth for our local economy.  That said, the goal of any City Council member should be to put policies in place that remain viable for the Fenton community long after that member is gone.

3. In what areas of the Fenton City budget can savings be found?  What areas are in need of additional funding?
One of the many areas of focus for City Council is to ensure that Fenton is delivering necessary governmental services while supporting investment in the community’s future.   We should continually prioritize investments that create a safe residential environment and a business-friendly community.  Both types of investment drive the growth engine of our community, and give us the ability to adjust priorities as the needs of the Fenton community change.

In spite of diminishing tax revenues, Fenton’s City Manager has done a great job of delivering value to our community while maintaining a balanced budget. The challenge the he and City Council face is that this may not be sustainable.  A shrinking tax base requires continued budget cuts.  At some point, this will require cuts to essential services.  Once we are forced to cut essential services, people and businesses will leave the Fenton community.  If people and businesses leave, then the tax base will shrink even further.

We are at a critical point where we need to focus on bringing new ideas, people and businesses into our community.  City Council needs to focus on how we can use the resources we have to drive growth in the Fenton community.  My solution is to increase Fenton’s tax base, not the taxes.

4. What business knowledge and experience do you bring to the council?  How can these skills help our local business community?
My business experience includes extensive operations management (budgeting, business development, recruitment, and customer service), sustained long-term growth of several multi-million dollar businesses for a Fortune 500 company, and multiple examples of successful rebuilding of failing operations.  I have also led highly successful teams for the launch of multi-million dollar projects supporting the global implementation of technology and collaboration platforms, including organization change management.

5. If Fenton were to choose one city to model itself after, what city should that be?
I wouldn’t pick a single city on which to model Fenton, but rather, would borrow ideas from many different cities to model the “Fenton of the Future”.  A strong downtown, residential growth, a healthy business climate, strong community engagement, and well-developed master plan – all ideas I’d like to see in our version of Fenton.  To quote a favorite author: “If you understand the principles, you can choose your own method”.

6. What is your political opinion of House Bill 4147?  Should Fenton’s residential parcels be taxed on a percentage of value, or a flat fee?
I am in favor of allowing local communities as much latitude as possible when managing their budgets.  In general, parcels should be taxed as a percentage of taxable value.  In some instances, however, a flat-fee model may be more prudent based on consumption of services.  For example, if police calls originate more frequently from residential areas (vs. industrial areas), a higher per parcel fee may be the most relevant way to assess funding.  The goal of the exercise should be to pass along costs in the most equitable way possible.

7. What has the DDA done for existing business in Fenton?  What can be done to help partner with the existing business community in the future?
Like many residents, I’m excited by the progress of Fenton’s downtown area.  As we create a more vibrant downtown, we increase the value of our city, ultimately attracting more businesses to Fenton.  I think it’s the responsibility of City Council to work with the DDA as ambassadors for Fenton, helping to identify businesses that would be a fit for both our residents, and the existing businesses in our community.

8. What are our most threatening crime and safety concerns in Fenton?  What can be done to reduce these threats?
Fenton is lucky enough to have very good police and fire departments that work to keep our city safe.  They have been successful, shielding us from many of the issues that impact other mid-Michigan communities.

As a father to three young children, I’m keenly interested in the issues that face Fenton’s youth – drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and neighborhood safety.  We have the opportunity, as a community, to promote awareness of these challenges, and give kids the tools they need to make good decisions.

It’s our responsibility to be an active part of the Fenton community.  I would like to see the businesses, non-profit organizations, and residents of Fenton invest time in programs that support better outcomes for the children of our city.  To me, the public safety formula is simple – more community participation results in a safer, and better Fenton.

League of Women Voters Flint Candidate Survey (2013)

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government.   It influences public policy through education and advocacy.  The Flint Area representatives invited candidates on the November 5th ballot to participate in their Genesee County Electronic Voter Guide.  This publication provides voters with unbiased, nonpartisan information on the candidates.  They do not endorse, support or oppose any party or candidate, but rather provide information about the candidates and issues in an election to give voters a foundation for reaching their own decisions.

Candidate Name: David McDermott
Website: http://www.electmcdermott.com
Campaign Message: Fenton’s Future Starts Today.

Occupation: Director of Sales Enablement for a global, Michigan-based company
City/Town: City of Fenton (Michigan)
Education: B.A. Business with a minor in Innovation & Problem Solving

Experience: My experience includes both the business and community sectors. I have more than 20 years experience in business, with strong relationship building skills, non-profit executive board experience, and a track record of building high performing teams, both paid and volunteer. I was also recently appointed to Fenton’s Planning Commission.

Community Involvement: City of Fenton Planning Commission; St. John Applefest (Fenton, MI) – Festival General Chairman; Fenton Little League – Vice President & Board Member; Cub Scout Pack 270 (Fenton, MI) – Committee Chairman; Upward Basketball – Coach.  Past experience includes March of Dimes, United Way of Cleveland, Junior Achievement, Cleveland Community Shares, Cleveland International Program, and many others.

What are your qualifications for this position?
A balanced City Council represents a cross section of the community they serve.  For the Council to be effective, elected officials should bring varied backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations.

My experience includes extensive operations (budgeting, development, service), long-term growth of multi-million dollar businesses, and multiple examples of successfully rebuilding failing programs/operations.  I’ve been part of highly successful teams, and led the launch of multi-million dollar projects.  My non-profit experience includes successful, hands-on development and leadership roles, as well as executive-level board positions.  I currently sit on the City of Fenton’s Planning Commission.

I believe in the Fenton community, and think we all have the opportunity to play an active part in what makes our Fenton community extraordinary.

What are the top issues currently facing your city/village and, if elected, how would you address them?
Questions we should all ask: Is Fenton a safe place to live? Are our roads are drivable?  Do I know how are my taxes spent?

In general, Fenton City Council and the City Manager encourages us to ask questions.  They want to help us understand city priorities, and will listen to our opinion if we disagree.  They want the best community possible, just like all of us.

The challenge is that the burden of interaction starts with the residents.  The residents have to ask questions, and sometimes they don’t know where to begin.

I would like City Council to create an ongoing conversation focused on services provided in the city.  Talk about the great work our city manager and his teams do to save taxpayer money.  Talk to businesses about what it takes to help them grow, and to residents about what improves their neighborhoods.

Help the residents and businesses know the issues before they’ve even asked the questions.

How will you improve the quality of life in your city with limited resources?
The biggest opportunity we have to improve the quality of life in Fenton is to build a more engaged community.   A strong downtown, residential growth, a healthy business climate, and a well developed master plan all start with community engagement.

City Council should serve as the ultimate champions of Fenton, tirelessly advocating for the city, it’s residents, and it’s businesses. Once they do this, they create relationships that help drive the change the whole community wants to see.

Genesee County Pet Advocates PAC Questionnaire (2013)

I received this questionnaire from the Genesee County Pet Advocates.  I’m a big fan of my dog Murphy, and I’m glad there’s a group that advocates positive changes for him, and all the other pets in our area.

Name: David McDermott
Office Seeking: City Council, City of Fenton
Occupation: Sales Operations

Education:
State University of New York, College at Buffalo
Major: Bachelor of Arts, Business
Minor: Innovation & Problem Solving

Community Involvement:
Festival General Chair, St. John Applefest (Fenton, MI)
Vice President, Fenton Little League
Committee Chairman, Cub Scout Pack 270 (Fenton, MI)
Coach, Upward Basketball
City of Fenton Planning Commission

Past: United Way of Cleveland, Junior Achievement, Cleveland Community Shares, Cleveland International Program,

Campaign Email: electmcdermott@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/electmcdermott
Website: www.electmcdermott.com   

1. Do you own any pets?  Yes.  My family includes a Miniature Schnauzer named Murphy.  He’s a spunky 2-year old that has been part of our family since he was only 4 weeks old.

2. Do you support the reversal of the no-kill policy adopted by the Genesee County Board of Commissioners?  I am not in favor of euthanasia for healthy animals, however, that does not mean I believe you can enact a no-kill policy.  There are several barriers to overcome, including how you will manage an animal population that begins to swell as soon as a no-kill policy is put in place.

3a. Are you in favor of breed restrictions?  No. I don’t think that the breed of a dog is the problem. I think owners need to consider the environment in which the pet will live prior to bringing them into their home.  In my opinion, not all dog breeds have the disposition needed to be in a house with young children, and not all houses with young children are ready for a dog.  This played a significant role in our choice of a schnauzer.

3b. Does your municipality have any such breed restrictions in place? I do not know of any breed specific restrictions in the City of Fenton.

4. Do you support the implementation of low cost prevention methods to reduce the number of animals surrendered at the Genesee County Animal Shelter? Yes. I think low cost prevention methods should be available for owners.  This would help cut down on the number of unwanted pet turned in at shelters.

5. What is your position on registering animal rescue organizations in your municipality? Should the process be voluntary?  Should there be a cost?  Registration is an idea that people like because it adds “verifiability” to the process.  When I bought a new car, I researched the brand and model with Consumer Reports because I trust their validation process.  I think that before establishing registration for rescue organizations, we need to decide on the value that registration process will bring to the organizations and the work they do.  Once a value is determined, the nature (voluntary vs. mandatory) and cost can be decided.

6. What are your views on implementing 24/7 animal tethering restrictions in your area? No animal deserved to be indefinitely tethered.  When bringing an animal into your home, one of the things you should consider is how to safely allow them time to enjoy the outdoors.

7. Should residents in your area be allowed to keep non-traditional pets on their property? Non-traditional pets should certainly be accepted, but as with any type of pet, limits may need to be enacted to prevent negative impact on other residents.