New faces in Oakland Township election

Four years ago, after a huge housing development called Harvest Corners was approved by the Oakland Township Board of Trustees, a slate of candidates opposed to the development stepped forward to run for office.

This year, in the wake of a proposal for senior housing called Blossom Ridge, more new candidates have stepped forward. A posting on the Rochester Cider Mill’s Facebook page signed “Dr. Thomas Barkham and family” states that “A new group of interested township residents are running for office who promise to bring a fresh perspective to township government.”

Barkham, who has sparred with the township over the zoning of his Rochester Cider Mill, endorses newcomers Terry Gonser for supervisor, Jeanne Langlois for treasurer, Karen Reilly for clerk, and Robin Buxar, Judy Keyes and Maureen Thalmann for three of the four trustee positions.

Craig Blust, a leader of the Harvest Corners referendum, is endorsing Gonser, Langlois and Thalmann, along with incumbent clerk Judy Workings and incumbent trustees Mike Bailey, Sharon McKay and Kathy Thomas.

Planning Commission Chairman James Carter said the number of first-time candidates likely stems from the coincidence of Blossom Ridge and an election year. The stiff opposition to development in the township comes down to “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody,” he said. “It’s OK for them to build your home; it’s not OK for them to build a home for somebody else.”

“I believe these people believe Oakland Township is a nice place to live,” said outgoing township clerk Sharon Creps, who is stepping down after 20 years on the board. She is endorsing current trustee Marc Edwards to succeed her as treasurer.

“The incumbents have established such a good record of Oakland Township, making it attractive and enjoyable for anybody and everybody to live,” she said. “I’m very pleased some of the incumbents are running because some of them have been involved for a long time.”

In the supervisor’s race, Gonser is challenging 2-term incumbent Joan Fogler.

Fogler, ( a 58-year resident, has been supervisor for eight years. She cites her experience and knowledge and says the township earned a AAA bond rating during her tenure and expanded its park system.
Gonser ( is a 60-year resident, retired General Motors engineer, entrepreneur and president of the Rochester-Area Republican Club. He says the township needs to be run with more professionalism, integrity and transparency. He says he would streamline permitting, televise meetings and put the township on a three-year running budget.

For clerk, the candidates are Reilly, Workings and James Foulkrod.
Foulkrod is vice chairman of the planning commission and the zoning board of appeals. He earned a master of business administration degree in finance. He said he’s running to defend the township as it has been planned and built.

Reilly is a 12-year resident who has administrative experience. She said she would work to eliminate regulations that don’t benefit residents.

Workings is a certified elections official, a graduate of the Michigan Townships Association’s Township Governance Academy and a Michigan State University Certified Citizen Planner. Among her priorities is better communication.

Edwards ( has served as a trustee for 22 years and is a member of the planning commission. A financial advisor, he says he is “uniquely qualified” to serve as treasurer. He points out that the township has managed to pay down debt and live within its means without cutting services. His priorities include improving return on township investments and an ordinance to limit wastewater treatment plants.

Langlois ( earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and spent 13 years in banking. A resident since 2010, she said the township should televise its meetings and put detailed financial information online. She favors maintaining the townships’ rural character.

There are six candidates for four trustee positions.

Bailey was elected in 2008 after 20 years on the planning commission. He is an engineer and 36-year resident. His priorities include holding the line on commercial development and finalizing the Goodison plan.

Buxar is a 37-year resident who works as an automotive appearance engineer. She cites a lack of respect, responsiveness and transparency by the current board, as well as over-reaching on ordinances.

Keyes is a 17-year resident, a business owner and member of her homeowners’ association board. She has won endorsements from state Rep. Tom McMillin and the Blossom Ridge Referendum Action Group. She says she found ways to cut costs for her business and her homeowners’ association during the current recession.

McKay was elected in 2008. A 20-year resident, she is a retired emergency medical technician and Realtor. She has been involved in improving the township website, cleaning up the mill race and organizing Clean Scene. She wants to retain the township’s rural character.

Thalmann is a 24-year resident, a freelance writer and historical researcher. Her issues include transparency, responsiveness and private property rights.

Thomas was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in 2007 and elected in 2008. A 19-year resident, she serves on the Paint Creek Trailways Commission and chaired the Clean Scene event. She is currently working on reducing trash-hauling costs and said she supports a single-hauler approach. Issues include updating ordinances and scrutinizing proposed development to maintain the township’s rural character.

Voters will also elect seven people to the Park Commission from among 11 candidates and decide the fate of a proposed 10-year renewal for the Historic District Commission’s operating millage. For more information, visit the League of Women Voters’ website at

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