The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. The League influences public policy through education and advocacy. Each election they put together one of the most comprehensive guides to candidates in local elections.
This year’s topics include the candidate’s opinion on areas including Fenton’s biggest issues, efforts to ensure transparency, and how they make decisions on behalf of the residents of Fenton. All pretty important to our community.
The answers are kept short, making them easy to understand and right to the point. Unfortunately, not all of the candidates took the time to answer, but I would think that might help you decide who is worth your vote.
See all the results here: Vote411
Candidate Name: David McDermott
Education: B.A. Business with a minor in Innovation & Problem Solving
Community Involvement (current): Fenton Education Foundation (Board Member), Fenton Tigers Travel Baseball (Board Member, 11U Coach, 14U Coach), St. John Applefest (Festival Chair), Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation (Board of Commissioners), Fenton Parks & Recreation (Board Member), Fenton Industrial Facility Tax Credit Committee (Member)
Community Involvement (past): Board member for Fenton Planning Commission, Fenton Zoning Board of Appeals, Fenton Little League, United Way of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland International Program, and Junior Achievement of Western New York. Former youth basketball, youth baseball, and youth softball coach.
Campaign Message: Fenton’s Future Starts Today
Question #1: What are the top THREE issues currently facing your community? If elected, how will you address them?
The biggest issue we face is roads that are in steady decline. The cost of fixing our roads is bigger than we can cut from other areas in the budget. We need to put a fiscally reasonable plan in place that allows us to fix the current problems and prevents us from being right back where we are today a decade from now.
A second issue is infrastructure (water & sewer systems). Older neighborhoods are in bad shape. We can address this at the same time as roads, making updates while roads are being redone, and save residents a massive amount of money.
The big issue we face as a community is increased youth drug use. This is a problem we have to address as a community. I’d like to work with the schools and city to put a parent education program in place that can slow down this epidemic.If elected, If elected, what best practices would you employ in making decisions for the city?
Question #2: If elected, If elected, what best practices would you employ in making decisions for the city?
For every decision, we must consider: (1) impact on residents, (2) cost to the city, and (3) timeline to complete the project
If a decision will impact our residents, we have a duty to get public input before voting. We represent our community, not our own personal interest, and this helps ensure we make well-informed decisions.
Cost and project timeline are very closely aligned. The easiest ways to drive up costs on a project is delays. We need more diligence to ensure all city projects come in on-time and under budget. We can’t allow contractors to come back for more money, driving up the cost. Additionally, we need to stay vigilant that we only spend what’s in our budget.
Question #3: What efforts would you take as an elected leader to ensure transparency in governance?
Monthly work sessions to review pending big issues help give residents an opportunity to have their opinion heard, in a public forum. These sessions also give us the opportunity to discuss future issues that could impact our community (roads, legalized marijuana, state law changes, etc.) but aren’t being voted on at this time. Every meeting is open to the public, and we work to ensure any resident that will be impacted by the outcome of these discussions is present to provide input.
These meetings (and all Council Meetings) are public, but very few attend. We need new (and better) ways to communicate upcoming issues and get resident feedback. Better communication with our community through different channels can help improve community engagement.
Question #4: What qualifications do you possess that will make you an asset on the council?
An effective City Council represents a cross-section of the community it serves. Elected officials should bring varied backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations. I have all three.
I’m a City Councilman serving on multiple boards and commissions (see above). I have 20+ years business experience including building multi-million dollar businesses, rebuilding programs, managing global teams, and leading launch of global projects. I’m also involved with non-profits and charitable foundations in leadership and board roles. I serve on the Fenton Education Foundation and Fenton Tigers Travel Baseball boards. I also run the largest festival in Genesee County, St. John Applefest in Fenton (4 days, 500 volunteers, 30,000 visitors).
Each election the Tri-County Times (www.tctimes.com) asks candidates a few questions to help their readers get a better idea of who to vote for. Below are this year’s questions.
Name: David McDermott
Current Occupation: Global Sales Operations Director and City Councilman
Residency in the City of Fenton: 11 years
Question: What do you believe is a council member’s most important responsibilities?
A Councilperson’s most important responsibility is to remember that they represent the residents of Fenton, not just themselves. Every decision, every dollar spent, every vote – the City Council needs to support what Fenton’s residents value the most – a safe, close-knit, family-friendly community and a fiscally responsible city government.
Question: Going forward, what is the city’s most critical issue and what will you do, if elected, to help resolve that issue?
Our roads and infrastructure (water, sewer) are in terrible shape and getting worse. The cost is bigger than we can cut from other areas in our city’s budget. I will focus on ensuring we have a realistic and financially responsible plan in place so that we can get our roads and infrastructure fixed.
I’m excited to share that the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed me again this election as a candidate for the Fenton City Council position.
In preparation for this year’s “Meet the Candidates” event held October 10th, the Chamber sent out a list of questions to all the candidates. Below you’ll find my responses. I’m the only candidate that has publicly shared their responses.
2017 Questionnaire for Mayoral & Council Candidates
1) What qualifications do you bring to the city council?
For a City Council to be effective, it should represent a cross-section of the community it serves. Elected officials should bring varied backgrounds – public service, private industry, and community organizations. My background includes all three.
Currently, I serve as a Fenton City Councilman, elected to my first term in 2013. As part of this role, I also serve on the Parks & Recreation Board, the Industrial Facility Tax Credit Committee, and Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation Board of Commissioners. I have previously served on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.
I also bring over 20 years of experience in private industry, including the growth of multi-million dollar businesses, successfully rebuilding programs, managed highly productive teams, and leading the launch of global projects.
My experience with community organizations includes a variety of non-profit organizations and charitable foundations. This experience has given me hands-on development and leadership roles, as well as experience in executive/board positions. I currently serve on the Fenton Education Foundation and Fenton Tigers Travel Baseball boards. For the last 6 years I have also run one of largest festivals in Genesee County, St. John’s Applefest, which brings close to 30,000 people to Fenton each September. I’ve previously volunteered with Cub Scouts, Fenton Little League, and Upward Basketball, and served on boards for the United Way of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland International Program, Junior Achievement of Western New York, and Niagara County Community College.
2) Given the recent successes associated with the streetscape and beautification, what are your ideas to add to that?
As a Council Member, I’ve supported ideas that add to our community through the growth of local businesses, ongoing downtown improvements, and projects positively impacting our residential neighborhoods.
I like initiatives that bring new people to Fenton. As a member of the Industrial Facility Tax Credit Committee, I worked to provide a tax credit enabling a local business to expand downtown, keeping them in Fenton and adding 30+ new jobs. As a Commissioner on Southern Lakes, I’ve supported their growth to manage events including Back to the Bricks, Farmers Market, and Thursdays in the Park. As a Board Member for the Fenton Education Foundation, I’ve supported programs in our schools for music, athletics, robotics, and teacher grants. All of those things make Fenton a better place to live (and raise a family).
I believe that Fenton’s biggest success is that people want to visit and live here. The more people that spend time in Fenton, the more they support our local businesses. When local businesses succeed, they are more generous in their support of our schools and community. Stronger schools and community organizations create a better quality of life. A better quality of life makes more people want to be part of Fenton. It is all connected.
3) In what areas of the Fenton City Budget can savings be found? What areas are in need of additional funding?
Our current administration (City Manager and staff) work to ensure we are as prudent as possible with taxpayer money. As part of our annual budget process, we look at each department to review requested increases and potential decreases.
An area that needs significant, immediate investment is residential roads. Our neighborhood roads are experiencing a steep decline, and updating them will require a long-term financial commitment from our residents such as a multi-year road millage.
4) What business knowledge and experience do you bring to the council? How can these skills help our local business community?
I have over 20 years of business experience – managing operations (sales, recruitment, customer service), sustained long-term growth of several multi-million dollar businesses within a Fortune 500 company, strategic planning/organizational goal setting, and successfully rebuilding failing operations. I have led highly successful teams, the launch of multi-million dollar global projects, and developed programs that help us focus on the interpersonal relationships that drive success. Currently, I manage a team that includes sales, training, and technology management within the global sales and account management organization of a Fortune 500 company.
5) Parking is an issue. What can be done to better direct the public to parking which is currently available?
Parking is a frequently discussed issue for City Council. Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen it come up different ways – the impact of new buildings, residential downtown properties needing reserved spots, expansion of existing businesses with the hiring of more employees, opening new roadways, and the impact of large downtown events.
Parking is also an indicator of a successful downtown. More people means less available parking. If we continue to successfully grow, the availability of parking will eventually become a concern, but right now, the biggest issue is the location of parking. A straightforward way to fix today’s problem is better signage indicating where the less obvious parking and municipal lots can be found.