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 Supervisor candidate Rick Hamill who is running for the open seat in the Aug. 7 primary.
Patch: How long have you lived in Highland?
Hamill: I have lived in Highland for 48 years. I moved here in 1964 at age 11.
Patch: What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in?
Hamill: I am the chairperson of the design committee for the Highland Downtown Development Authority.
Patch: What drew you to run for Supervisor?
Hamill: My activities with the Highland Downtown Development Authority exposed me to the value of having governing agencies that work together. Highland township government and the HDDA have NOT been working in the same direction for years and as a result little has been accomplished of the original TIFA plan for Historic Highland Station. The solution to this issue it turns out is quite simple... Elect the Right Supervisor. The Township supervisor is the key individual that makes it all come together. The supervisor sits on the HDDA board and the Township board and is the liaison in both directions. The Supervisor is the person who appoints the board members of the HDDA, the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of appeals. If you want all of these people and resources to work together for the better of the community then you need a leader that knows how and wants to make it happen. That is the gist of why I decided to run. I believe in government that works together for the best common cause. With the ability to have a "gem" like the DDA in Highland it only makes sense to have everyone in the township working together. My background in Design and construction has allowed me to build dreams into real environments and it takes a visionary to see it in living color and 3D from beginning to end before it even gets started. It takes a master at project management to see it happen in a realistic manner, time frame and cost. I have these skills and know that I can apply them to there best use as Highland Township Supervisor.
Patch: What personal and professional experiences make you qualified to hold that position?
Hamill: As a Design/Build business owner for 31 years, I have a solid background in personnel management, facilities management, finance/budgeting, community planning/design, construction/engineering, contracts/bidding, customer relations and marketing (the skill set a township supervisor should possess). I have the “toolbox” fully stocked and ready to work! I am a person believes strongly in compromise to get the best results.
Patch: What is the most important issue facing the township and what do you intend to do about it during your term in office?
Hamill: The most important issue in Highland is growing our town by building "Community." Highland has three elements that need to be in balance to have real "Community."
1. We have really awesome people in Highland and they overwhelmingly prefer to keep our rural atmosphere. They feel we do need to address building our businesses to a healthy state.
2. The current business community is top notch but needs the help of the government by supporting their needs to be profitable.
3. Highland has to have a government that wants to be an equal partner with the people and the businesses. When the government is there to support those partners then we can achieve "Community"!
I will be the leader that takes the initiative to make sure that every part of the government is working for the people and the businesses. When help is needed the government will see to it that every attempt is made to make the process easy and enjoyable. Staff training and public awareness are top on the list. I feel the past leaders have kept the other partners in the dark by not adequately keeping them informed. It is right and just to use the resources necessary to inform the public of all activities happening in the township. We shouldn't have to use a shovel and pickax on a web site to garner limited information. Emails could be blasted to individuals, businesses, subdivision associations and community groups on a regular basis and as new issues arise. Don't wait for the public to ask... instead be the first to inform.
Patch: How do you plan to address the vacant buildings in Highland including the former Highland Middle School building?
Hamill: The vacant buildings in Highland are just waiting for a "super salesman" supervisor together with a great HDDA to go shopping for the right mix of businesses. Promotion of the value of our town is imperative and can only happen if the leader is there to see it through. Without a rock solid plan of what Highland can be there will be no future. I spent my career in Design and Construction developing solid workable, affordable and creative plans. Seeing the end before it is built is a special talent and that is what I do better than any of the other candidates. I know that with my leadership Highland can become its own "place". I do not want to tell people that Highland is just north of Milford anymore! The vacant Highland Middle School is going to be an issue for downtown Highland. Some want to keep it and see it put to an enterprising use. This is a great idea if there are enough resources just to maintain it until an paying occupant can be found. Highland Township government does not have those resources and neither does the HDDA. It costs approximately $125,000.00 per year just to barely keep up the outside let alone the $1.00 per square foot(do not know the total sq ft but I bet it is over !00,000) cost to heat and cool it. If there are any roofing disasters or other major maintenance issues then that could break the camels back. The probable best use is to demolish the building and use the space for parking for the New Walkable Downtown and as an area to put septic for limited use for the Historic Downtown area. The sporting facilities for baseball and other outdoor activities can be maintained. Public events could also be held in this area like community fairs and concerts.
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?
Hamill: I believe that Highland will be a vibrant bike friendly, walkable community that will be the pride of all of its partners. I will help design and build the model and the plan that can make it happen and continue into the next 40 years. What the township needs to do right now is work hard and together as a community team to get the ball rolling. We can't approach the project on a once a month meeting schedule. It has to progress on a daily basis for at least 300 days of the year! Each meeting must fill the next with a full months of work. Timelines and project schedules must be set and adhered without the excuse "that it takes a lot of time if the government is involved." It only takes the time you are willing to put into each project to make it succeed or fail. I do not expect to see any failures because I know we have the people, the businesses and the ability of "good" government to only succeed! I will use all of the best resources in our community to get Highland up and running for the future and Highland has the best.