By Jim Newell
ORION TWP. — The seat shuffling is complete and the Orion Township Board of Trustees is now back up to its full complement of seven members after the board voted 6-0 to appoint Matt Pfeiffer as the new trustee during the board’s Jan. 17 meeting.
Pfeiffer is a local business owner and a past board president of the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce. He was sworn in during the Jan. 17 meeting.
He is also involved in local charitable efforts, such as the Forgotten Harvest food distribution group at Canterbury Village; an ambassador for the Real Men of Orion supporting the American Cancer Society; and founder of North Oakland Strong, which helps raise monetary funds and goods donations to support charitable efforts in the area.
Pfeiffer, a lifelong Orion Township resident, will serve until November 2024 when his seat will be up for election. He fills an empty spot on the board left vacant after former treasurer Donni Steele resigned in December to join the Michigan House of Representatives.
In December, the board voted to appoint then-Trustee Kim Urbanowski to the treasurer’s role until Nov. 20, 2024 when that term expires.
With Urbanowski’s appointment and Steele’s departure, effective Dec. 20, 2022, that left Urbanowski’s trustee seat open. She was first elected to the board in November 2022.
The board needed to appoint someone – which it could legally do since Urbanowski was more than halfway through her term – or the township would have to go through a costly special election, Supervisor Chris Barnett said.
In his application letter to the board, Pfeiffer cited his “passion for serving” and giving “back to Lake Orion” as his desire for applying for the trustee position.
“I have a passion for serving, and I take advantage of every opportunity to give back to Lake Orion and to encourage others to do the same. I believe that by serving as a Trustee for the Township, I will be able to continue my work to help Orion Township in a leadership capacity,” Pfeiffer wrote.
“I have been extremely impressed with the current leadership and I have had the opportunity to work with many of you on various community projects in the past, which is another reason for me to seek a more continuous and official role to work alongside you as a member of your team.”
Pfeiffer was selected out of a field of 12 candidates who applied for the trustee position: Eric Bechill, Samantha Bell, Thomas Daniels, Thomas Denton, Scott Gabriel, Jeffrey Hazen, Carrie Hilgendorf, Lauren Elizabeth Mannor, Matthew Pfeiffer, Victor Raymond III, Lawrence Sak and Barbara Schalk.
“We were really blessed to have 12 residents that were willing to step up and fill in the gap for the remainder of just under two years’ vacancy on this board for trustee,” Barnett said.
Members of a township subcommittee – Barnett, Clerk Penny Shults, Treasurer Kim Urbanowski, Planning & Zoning Director Tammy Girling and Chief of Staff Samantha Timko – interviewed the candidates the week of Jan. 9 and recommended three for consideration to the other board members.
Trustees Brian Birney, Julia Dalrymple and Michael J. Flood then interviewed two finalists, Pfeiffer and Sak, and recommended Pfeiffer. The third finalist withdrew their application because of scheduling conflicts, Barnett said.
Clerk Penny Shults thanked Saks for applying and his interest in serving the community.
“It was good to interview you and I hope I see you engaged in the community,” Shults said.
“These are tough, tough decisions to make and I have the utmost respect for all of the candidates,” Flood said.
Pfeiffer is the first appointee to the board since Trustee Julia Dalrymple was appointed in June 2018 to fill the seat vacated after former Trustee Ron Sliwinski in May 2018.
Pfeiffer thanked the board for the selection process and the opportunity.
“I greatly appreciate the opportunity and responsibility that goes with it. I’m a big fan of our township, as you all know, and I’m really looking forward to learning from all of you and being a part of the team. Thank you very much for your support. I’m extremely humbled that you guys chose me, and it means a lot.”
By Jim Newell