Our Mayor Can Only Win By Dividing Us

I encourage you to vote for Paul Angelini, Steven McLean, and Christopher Moore for city council. Let me explain why I think it’s important for you to consider them.

As I told you in my last post, there are three, two-year terms for city council up for grabs in the November 2021 election. Gary Casey is running for his own seat, Ed Bonser decided not to run again, and Jason Kniesc resigned with no notice at the beginning of August. Because of the timing of Kniesc’s resignation, anyone interested in running to replace him for a two-year term would have missed the deadline to get on the ballot and be left with no choice but to run as a write-in candidate.

When you look at your ballot in November, you will see three names printed there for the three open council seats – Gary Casey, Paul Angelini, and Steven McLean. If you want to get your name printed on the ballot, you’ve gotta burn some shoe leather by going door to door, talking to people, and asking them to sign your petition. These three candidates did that.

I’ve written about the two write-in candidates being pushed by Haven, as well as Haven’s possible campaign finance law violations for using government email, government telephones, and our city manager’s email list – things that are all directly or indirectly financed by taxpayers – to help boost all three of his preferred candidates. One of the write-ins apparently hasn’t even lived here since September of 2020! You can read about it in detail here:


Unfortunately, I think that I need to talk a little bit more about Haven. (I know right? Sigh.) But it’s necessary because he’s so strongly identified himself with his preferred city council candidates, and we don’t know what discussions were had or what commitments were made between them, if any.

Haven’s letter to (some) residents voting absentee suggested that his preferred three candidates would “protect” us from people who apparently want to destroy our “brand.” I’m not sure what that is, but like clockwork, he pulls these dusty and tired tropes down from his moldy closet shelf every election season. Honestly, I think these words are just code for more “us” versus “them.” Haven likes to think of himself as a leader, but he seems to enjoy pitting one side of the community against the other. Apparently, Haven believes this is the only way that he can gain an advantage with some people over other people and, in the end, successfully force his views on all of us – forgetting that every person, even the candidates he doesn’t like, are all his constituents and all have valuable things to contribute to our charming city. “Winning” to Haven simply means having a voting bloc on council that will follow him like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. That’s not leadership.

Aren’t you sick of this?

Haven loves our historic district! But did you know that Haven doesn’t actually live in the historic district? That means that he doesn’t have to worry about having to go to court because someone doesn’t like his fence. Your problem, not his. Too bad, so sad – for you.

Haven also loves all the restaurants and businesses! But he doesn’t live anywhere near them, so he doesn’t really care that the restaurant traffic has destroyed our quiet neighborhoods. Your complaints about it have fallen on deaf ears because it doesn’t affect him one bit. Too bad, so sad – for you.

Haven blathers on about how his candidates will protect the “historic district” and “keep[ ] it free of commercial intrusion.” Really? What about blocking off the end of a city street for months and months for the exclusive use of a preferred commercial business? Wasn’t that “commercial intrusion”?

With Haven on council (and as mayor), we’ve become the equivalent of a food court with a street running through the center. Nice job, eh? Sucks to live in town now, or on any side street that is overrun with transient visitors coming here for the expensive burritos. Haven doesn’t have to put up with all of that, so he doesn’t care. He also apparently doesn’t consider a bazillion restaurants on Main Street to be a “commercial intrusion” or realize that the people he’s supporting are running for city council rather than soliciting an appointment on the Historic District Commission, the Planning Commission, or the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Aren’t you sick of this?

Haven wants you to vote for Mr. Casey and Haven’s hand-picked write-in candidates. Full disclosure – Mr. Casey came to my house and asked for my signature on his nominating petition. After I suggested to him that he might not want it if he knew who I was, he said he knew and still wanted my signature. I respect that he asked, I really love chutzpah, I signed his petition, and I told him that there were some things that he’d done that I appreciated during his time on council.

But I won’t be voting for him. I simply can’t support anyone who would accept an endorsement from Eric Haven. I don’t know if Haven extracted any concessions for his endorsement, and I don’t want to find out after the election – when it’s too late.

I wonder . . . has anyone ever figured out what exactly Haven thinks we need to be protected from? Because it sure sounds like Haven is suggesting that we need protection from other neighbors who merely want to donate their time and energy to serve the city because they think we can do better than we have been doing under Haven’s “leadership.” Good people like tech wizard Paul Angelini, Dr. Steven McLean, and Dr. Christopher Moore, people who love our little town just as much as Haven says he does.

When we bought our home here almost twenty years ago, the city was charming. Now, people are fleeing Clarkston in droves, and I can’t say that I blame them. If for some reason you like where we are now and what we’ve become – paying exorbitant taxes for very few services (with most of those provided under contracts with other entities), clogged streets full of out-of-town restaurant patrons, a park that’s frequently vandalized, preferential treatment for one certain business owner over all the others, streets and sidewalks in need of repair, uncontrolled spending on things residents don’t want or need, and a government that believes it’s entitled to hide records from you and unlawfully close meetings – none of which have anything to do with our lovely historic district – then by all means, vote for Haven’s slate of candidates, because these are the things that Haven supports.

We have real problems here in our small part of the world. If you are concerned that the city is going in the wrong direction and also believe that your interests aren’t fairly represented on city council, I would encourage you to consider voting for these three neighbors – Paul Angelini, Steven McLean, and Christopher Moore.

Aren’t you tired of being treated disrespectfully by some of the people on the city council and our boards and commissions? Don’t you want people representing you who understand how it feels not to be heard? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like the way Main Street and their local neighborhoods look or anyone who wants them changed. Haven’s insistence that we need to protect both “our brand” and the “subtleties of our culture” is nothing more than a dog whistle and further evidence of his continuing effort to divide and pit us against each other. It’s always “us” versus “them” with him, and he says the same thing every election. He’s stuck in the past.

The truth is – there is no enemy that Haven needs to protect us from.

Aren’t you sick of this?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some due process protections for citizens when they are forced to deal with these boards and commissions? How about a requirement that all board and commission meetings be recorded so the written minutes – the only record of what went on – can’t be tailored in a way that makes the board or commission look good? (Yes, they actually do that.) Or how about forcing these entities to live within a legal services budget, rather than providing them with unlimited taxpayer funds to pay for lawyers so that anyone who disagrees with a decision has no other choice but to go to court – and then we all lose? These are the kinds of things that responsible city council members can accomplish.

If you yearn for a positive change, please consider voting for Paul Angelini, Steven McLean, and Christopher Moore. Mr. Angelini and Dr. McLean are on the ballot, and Dr. Moore is running as a write-in. I’ve provided a link to their bios below their photos.

And unlike Haven, all three of them live in the historic district.

Paul Angelini Bio

Steve McLean Bio

Christopher Moore Bio

The honest truth is that no one is trying to take anything from you. We all pay the same taxes, we’d all like to be treated fairly, and we all want a safe, beautiful community to raise our families in. As you know, I’m a staunch advocate for government transparency. If you are too, then I would advise you not to vote for anyone that Haven is supporting because Haven is the most anti-transparency person on the council.

Many of you have already received your absentee ballot. If you haven’t filled it out already, I ask that you please consider voting for Paul Angelini, Steven McLean, and Christopher Moore. Since Dr. Moore is running as a write-in candidate, you will have to write his name in on a blank line below the names that are printed on the ballot, spell his name correctly, and blacken the circle in front of the blank line to cast a vote for him. I’ve attached a sample ballot that shows you how to do that (please click the link below):

Sample Ballot 11 02 2021

If you haven’t requested an absentee ballot but want one, it’s super easy – I printed an application, took two minutes to fill it out, scanned it, and then I emailed it to Jennifer Speagle, our Clerk, at speaglej@villageofclarkston.org. She responded the next day, confirmed receipt of the application, and told me that she would be mailing my ballot immediately – and I’ve already received it. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

You can find the link to the absentee ballot application here, under the heading “Requesting an absent voter ballot”:


Did you know that you can change your mind about who you voted for in light of new information, even after you’ve mailed your ballot in? You can! It’s called “spoiling an absent voter ballot,” and the Michigan Secretary of State provides instructions for that too. You can find them at the same link under the heading (you guessed it) “Spoiling an absent voter ballot”:


I know that it’s tempting to sit out the election because the only thing on the ballot is voting for city council. But you shouldn’t. Almost everything in the city that you don’t like (and those things that you do like) can be traced back to the actions of the people sitting in those seven chairs. Why? Because they appoint everyone who sits on the boards and commissions. Because they have the final say on ordinances. Because the city manager and the city attorney report to them directly and serve at their pleasure. Because they can choose to listen to your suggestions – or not. Because unethical officials can easily hide information from you, and you’ll never know it exists. Because, because, because. There are a bazillion because-s.

When you sit things out, you are letting other people have your say about the most important part of our city government.

Please vote.