By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion Village Council has four seats up for election on Tuesday, but the council has already been set for two months now.
Current Councilmembers Doug Hobbs and John Ranville opted to run again.
They are joined by newcomers Ray Hammond and Teresa Rutt, who were both appointed to the council in August after undergoing an interview process. The appointments were necessary after former councilmembers Steve Watson and Shauna Brown resigned from the council in July.
The three candidates with the most votes will serve four-year terms, while the fourth highest vote-getter will serve a two-year term.
Councilmembers are sworn in at the first council meeting following the election, which will likely be Nov. 12.
Teresa L. Rutt
Rutt, 31, currently is in her third term on the village’s parks and recreation advisory committee and is employed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She has lived in Lake Orion for six years.
Rutt said she decided to run for the village council because she believes in serving and being involved in the community.
“It wasn’t something that I initially thought about doing,” Rutt said. “I love serving the community and being involved in the community.
Rutt said she felt like she wanted to have a voice in the community and help others have a voice in the community. “I thought, if I want to have a say, I have to be willing to get involved.
One of the important issues for Rutt is asking, how do we move forward as a community while honoring our history?
“We need to develop different opportunities, business and development, that come along while preserving the character of the village and continuing to make Lake Orion a place where people want to be and live,” Rutt said, adding, “Change is necessary in some areas.”
Rutt has lived in the community and been on the parks and recreation advisory committee, so she’s familiar with Lake Orion and many of its issues.
But being on the council also provides her insight into the things she may not have considered, like watermain projects and new building developments and economic growth.
“I feel like I’m still learning and catching up…and now I’m jumping into the middle of the process and these projects that have already been going on,” she said.
She also thinks it’s great that the council has a variety of people from different backgrounds and also values people being involved in the government and community.
“Government functions best when communication is going well. When you’re closed off to communication we’re closed off to one another and it doesn’t bring about a good relationship,” she said.
“I want what’s best for the community and what the community at-large would want,” Rutt said, adding that she welcomes people to contact her and share their concerns.
Rutt’s husband, Dan, is an engineer and they two sons, ages 5 and 3.
She said that her family moved to Lake Orion in part because they liked the small town feeling of the community.
“Being a part of this is something that seemed like a good fit,” Rutt said. “We love living in the village. I love Lake Orion and I love living here.”
Hammond, 62, has lived in the village for three years and is a financial analyst for General Motors and a retired engineering manager for the Ford Motor Company. Prior to moving to the village, he and his family lived in Orion Twp.
Hammond said he decided to run for the village council after several people suggested he do so, including his family and Councilmember Doug Hobbs.
Stewardship of tax dollars is an important issue for Hammond, who believes that government should operate within its means. “I really think land use and fiscal responsibility are the key responsibilities of the village council.”
Hammond has been vocal in his opposition to the Lake Orion Community Schools bond proposal.
He said he’s spoken with friends and neighbors who were “dead set against Blanche Sims being torn down” but really were not given an opportunity for input.
He lives near Blanche Sims Elementary and is opposed to the possibility of demolishing and relocating the school, and then “shoehorning” new housing development into that piece of property.
While he acknowledges that any proposal to sell the land and build homes isn’t in the works, Hammond says he’s seen architectural layouts of putting 20-26 homes on the site. “It’s just not want residents’ want and none of the residents have had this discussed with them.”
“So that kind of tipped me over to do it,” Hammond said. “I’ve been a big advocate of getting involved and actually doing something about the things you believe in.”
“I think the village is poised to grow. I’ve seen the village transition from a lot of abandoned or rental homes to now being owned by families. And I think that’s a good thing. The downtown is becoming attractive (with new business development),” he said. “It’s poised to grow, and I think that growth needs to be managed and I think land use is critical. We don’t want to be Rochester, I think. We don’t have the size and scope and land to do that, but yet we don’t want to be left behind either. It takes some thoughtful management of the resources we have.”
“What Ray Hammond wants may not be what my neighbors want. But, let’s say that 50 out of 50 feel that way, I need to carry that into the council and not let my personal opinion get in the way of that. I really do believe in representative government.”
“I just think it’s important that we keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the village and what the people of the village want and do what’s right economically and financially for the future of the village,” he said.
Hammond is open to residents contacting him to share their concerns. “Absolutely, I want to hear what’s going on,” he said.
Hammond and his wife, Janice, have two sons, Michael and Dennis who are both in the Navy, and a daughter, Olivia, who attends Oakland Christian High School. They are members of the Lake Orion United Methodist Church. Hammond is also a Navy veteran.
Hobbs, 66, has been on the Lake Orion Village Council for almost nine years now and is on the board of the Orion Cable Commission. He is a mental health technician in behavioral medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital-Oakland.
“The three priorities of any elected official are the health safety and welfare for those who they serve. I’m not a politician with an agenda. I’m a fellow resident and neighbor who cares about this neighbors and community,” Hobbs said. “I encourage all village residents to find time to serve in some capacity in the governing of this village to learn the workings behind the scenes.
“The reason why I’m on the council is that I care about the direction this community is planning to move forward. You can ask any resident as to why they live here in the village and just about every time they will refer to the small, hometown atmosphere and the close ties the residents have to each other,” Hobbs said. “These are the same reasons that attracted me to Lake Orion 16 years ago, and I want to preserve these community characteristics for our residents.”
Hobbs also said that the village is in the process of updating its aging infrastructure and he’s dedicated to seeing those challenging projects achieved.
“Safety is a strong factor as to why this community is a good place to live and raise a family and I believe having our own police department highly contributes to that factor. I am a council person that will strongly support the Lake Orion Police Department in whatever means they need to keep us safe and secure,” Hobbs said.
Ranville is another veteran of the council and was first elected in 2004 after retiring as the director of the village’s Department of Public Works, a position he had held since 1986.
Prior to that, he was an equipment operator in the Public Works Dept. from 1967-1986. He also served as Petty Officer E-4 in the United States Navy from 1969-1971.
Since he has been on the council, Ranville has served on the parks committee and is presently serving on the Orion Cable Commission, the Design Committee, the Big Committee and the Union Church Committee.
“My reasons for running for another term as Lake Orion Village Council member is my love for the village and township of Lake Orion. I would like to help manage and guide the village in a positive direction that will both benefit the downtown businesses and those residing in the village,” Ranville said.
“I think the biggest issues the next village council will face will by trying to maintain the same quality of services that we now provide, without having to layoff any of our most valued resources, our employees,” Ranville said. “We are in some hard economic times and I would like to see the new council see that projects already started and in the planning stages are finished, and that no new projects are taken on at this time.”
Ranville was born and raised in Lake Orion, graduating from Lake Orion High School in 1967. He married his wife, Linda, in 1970 and has two daughters and four grandchildren, all attending Lake Orion schools.
Ranville is also member of American Legion Post 233 in Lake Orion, is a lifetime member of the Lake Orion Lions Club and served as chairman of the Fireworks Committee for more than 16 years.
Editor’s Note: In order to be consistent with our election letters policy in the print edition, we will not be allowing any online comments related to the Nov. 6 general election. Per our policy, we did not publish any election-related letters after the Oct. 24 edition. Given this, it would not be fair or ethical to allow people to circumvent this policy by posting election-related comments online. Thank you for understanding.