NOVI — Voters in the city will elect on Nov. 7 three city council members from a field of six candidates that includes two incumbents and four newcomers. They will join on the council one of the two men running for mayor.
Laura Casey, 52, has been a resident of the city for more than 23 years and has served on the city council since 2011. She holds master’s degrees in business administration and management from Walsh College and a bachelor’s degree in American public affairs from Michigan State University. She lists her occupation as customer experience strategy/marketing.
Besides her service on council, she is a member of the Rotary Club of Novi, the Novi Educational Foundation Grant Committee, the Novi Library Bond Committee and served as a Novi Library Board Trustee from 2005-2011.
Jay Dooley, 63, has lived in Novi since 1999. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Connecticut and is employed as a senior executive provider liaison in the neuroscience division at UCB.
He is chair of the Novi Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Commission since 2007. He previously served as vice-president of the Novi Parks Foundation from 2007-2012; is a past president of the Novi High School Boosters Club; a past recipient of the Novi “Spirit of Giving” Award and the “Community Service Award”; teaches religious education at St. James; is a board member for Michigan Miss Amazing; and for the past 17 years has self-funded “Dooley Dog Day,” providing more than 1,000 hot dogs to Novi youth program supporters.
Matt Heintz, 41, is a seven-year resident of Novi. He holds a bachelor of science degree in zoology from Michigan State University and earned a PhD from the University of Chicago. He is employed as a senior technical writer within the medical device industry.
Heintz co-led an elementary school environment club in his community to empower the youth through knowledge and compassion to make a difference and take action in their school and home; is active in the Novi Mental Health Alliance group to promote wellbeing and provide educational resources for Novi families; and was recently elected as an interim HOA president as he continues to demonstrate leadership in his community.
Joe Peddiboyina, 51, has lived in Novi for more than 21 years. He is a mechanical engineering graduate who owns an information technology business.
He lists relevant community involvement as consistent participation in city council meetings advocating for Novi’s development, as well as organization of charitable activities. He has served on the library board, the zoning board of appeals, and the Rotary Club, among others. He has received numerous awards related to his dedication to Novi’s growth and believes he brings leadership experience as a business owner and consultant, with community service and leadership roles equipping him to ensure every Novi resident’s voice is heard and respected.
Sujata Raman, 45, is a 12-year resident of Novi. She has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University and earned her juris doctor from MSU’s College of Law. She is employed as a medical practice administrator.
David Staudt, 64, is a 30-year resident of Novi and has served on the city council for 16 years, the past 12 as mayor pro-tem. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lakeland College and a master’s degree in management from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is employed as a comptroller for Associated Builders and Contractors of SE Michigan as well as for Construction Education Trust. He owns Impact Media Professionals.
Besides his service on city council, he has served five years on the Novi Parks, Recreation & Forestry Commission; two years on the Novi Economic Development Corporation and also served on the Novi Corridor Improvement Authority. He is the founder of the Novi Parks Foundation and of the Canine Advocacy Program and a member of Knights of Columbus, Novi Rotary, and the Elks. He is a past president of the Marine Environmental Education Foundation and the National Clean Boating Campaign and past board member of the CRWC.
Hometown Life sent identical questionnaires to the candidates, requesting information about them and their thoughts on various issues. Here is what they had to say on six questions we asked (with responses limited to 100 words for each):
Casey: I have served on council since 2011 and chair the Capital Improvement Program Committee, the Youth Council Review Committee, the Older Adult Needs Committee, the Roads Committee and I’m a member of the Walkable Novi Committee and the liaison to the youth council.
I value resident feedback and make decisions based on resident priorities. I engage in dialogue and seek to understand. I work collaboratively with colleagues.
I take time to learn about each issue and do my research. I have completed training programs through the Michigan Municipal League Elected Officials Academy and the MSU Extension Citizen Planner program.
Dooley: Experience matters. I have been involved, committed and volunteered countless hours these past two decades to preserve all that is great about Novi. This has been paramount to my family, friends and residents. It has always been about giving back to our community and positively shaping life’s lessons and the responsibility that goes with it.
Heintz: I am qualified because I am committed to lead by listening. I am a father of two daughters and a scientist. I am passionate about having a positive impact on our Novi for my family and all of Novi. I graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in zoology and received a PhD from the University of Chicago. With my strong background in data analytics and problem solving, I will have a fresh perspective while listening to residents and using data to make an evidence-based decision.
Peddiboyina: I bring a unique blend of experience to the table. Born in India, I moved to America 25 years ago, chasing the American Dream. I became an American citizen, founded businesses, created jobs, served on civic boards, and actively participated in city council meetings. My engineering background offers a unique perspective on development issues.
I’m endorsed by Republicans, Democrats, and Mayor Bob Gatt to help lead Novi into the future. These bipartisan endorsements speaks to my qualifications. I’ve spent years making Novi a better place, and I understand the importance of making every resident feel heard and valued.
Raman: I am a mom, an attorney and a business woman. I am committed to being an accessible and proactive leader that will always treat your concerns with respect and advocate for Novi. I am dedicated to the value of respect, hard work and an appreciation of differences. I believe it’s time for some fresh, new ideas and outside the box thinking. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work together with our community to ensure that Novi is as safe, sustainable, connected, and inclusive as it can be.
Staudt: I have served on city council for 16 years, including 12 as mayor pro-tem, and had a nearly 40 year business management career. I have the experience, vision, empathy and a willingness to engage residents in constructive discussions about issues important to them. Then work to get things done. My track record of getting things done is second to none in the history of Novi.
Dooley: Overall public safety which includes support for police, fire, revisiting our neighborhood roads, enhancing our major roads, snow removal, and infrastructure within water & sewer. Maintain and improve investments within Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services. This would include our existing and potential new parks as well as investments into sidewalks and trails; Walkable Novi. Protect and improve older adults needs such as community outreach, effective free transportation and to champion the education toward medical coverage.
Heintz: I am committed to a sustainable, connected, and safe Novi. Residents are concerned with the amount of overdevelopment in Novi. I understand the importance of protecting the wetlands and woodlands, which can provide physical and wellbeing benefits as well as preventing flooding to support a sustainable Novi. I am also supportive of increasing transportation options including biking and walking trails, and bus options for a connected Novi. I am deeply concerned about safety and will listen to the needs of first responders to make sure that fire stations are fully staffed and have proper resources for a safe Novi.
Peddiboyina: First, safe neighborhoods for our families and seniors. I’ll back our award-winning police force to keep Novi safe. Second, excellent schools. I’ll support our teachers and encourage parental involvement. Third, clean, efficient government. I’ll ensure tax dollars are spent wisely, maintaining Novi’s low tax rate and perfect AAA bond rating. These priorities align with the common-sense policies that led Fortune and Forbes Magazines to name Novi one of the best places to live in America.
Raman: I want Novi to be as safe, connected, inclusive and sustainable as it can be. I want to be sure the city makes smart, responsible decisions about development. I want to work to make sure all our fire stations are fully functioning, never going unstaffed as has been happening in recent months. I want to work with Oakland County to implement the transit Novi voted for in a way that makes sense for our residents and our library is funded at the level it needs. I want to ensure that all residents voices are heard and considered when making decisions.
Staudt: Fully staffing all public safety departments (police and fire) and updating or replacing aging facilities as necessary. Assisting our aging population to live more independent and fulfilling lives by expanding our senior transportation options, senior services, and publicly owned senior housing options. Carefully managing the remaining buildout. It will require vision, intense planning and adequate funding to deal with the challenges related to public safety, traffic, transit, public services and infrastructure, while protecting our woodlands and wetlands.
Casey: Long-term planning: we need to ensure that we’re not just reacting to issues today but planning for what may impact the city in the future. Continue providing the best city services for all Novi residents: Ensuring that police and fire services always have the funding they need to keep residents and businesses safe. Proactively maintaining our infrastructure and keeping the roads clear from snow as quickly as possible. Offering recreation activities and parks to meet resident needs. Fiscally responsible government: Aligning spending to residents’ priorities. Maintaining a healthy fund balance. Reducing legacy costs. Keeping debt low.
Heintz: Novi has amazing facilities including the library and Department of Public Safety. Our city has grown over the years and the usage and the needs of these facilities have increased. I am data driven and I will talk with the community and consult with experts to identify primary needs with the library and public safety facilities. Following an understanding of the needs, I am committed to communicating with residents and empowering them to have a voice by voting on what additional resources are needed for our Novi.
Peddiboyina: Novi’s growing, and our infrastructure must keep pace. Roads and utilities are key. Novi is doing its part with tens of millions of dollars allocated to roads. The problem is DTE is not doing its part. Our residents pay their bills, yet DTE can’t manage to keep the power on despite record profits. I will use my city council “bully pulpit” to hold DTE accountable to Novi residents. Further, I’ll use my engineering background to offer smart solutions to new challenges. The goal is to improve without burdening taxpayers.
Raman: I believe we need to constantly invest in our infrastructure to ensure it works for residents. Novi has many vacant structures in Novi that we should be working to repurpose before cutting down more trees and putting up new buildings. We need to protect our wetlands and woodlands because they provide essential protection against the type of flooding we have experienced in parts of the city in recent years. We also need to work on doing whatever we can to ensure reliable utility service.
Staudt: The next city council must identify the real reasons we have traffic congestion, all potential solutions and how they affect our residents, all funding sources and potential funding partners and then implement a comprehensive plan. Increasing taxes, whether a bond or millage, is the easy way out and my last course of action. Beck Road is the biggest project and the most complicated.
Casey: I believe mobility is a critical component to our livability. That means maintaining our roads, sidewalks and pathways. The number of road construction projects we saw this summer was unusual – these were critical projects that needed to be completed and ensuring we manage our road network appropriately is a necessity. Mobility also means filling sidewalk gaps and maintaining older neighborhood sidewalks. As construction costs have increased significantly in the last few years, we must continue to partner with other agencies and seek out grants and funding as often as possible to maximize the funding we get from the state.
Dooley: The options for infrastructure needs within business and our community need to be studied carefully. I would be pro-active in offering feedback and insights pertaining to these findings. We must promote responsible growth to minimize impact for our existing residents and infrastructure through development in accordance with the City of Novi Master Plan. Sitting on the Walkable Novi Committee has confirmed for me that the city needs to continue to make investments in overall public safety, neighborhood and major roads, sidewalks and our parks. Financing major road infrastructure must be a coordinated effort and approach amongst local, state, and federal leaders.
Peddiboyina: While Novi’s government is efficient, there’s always room for improvement. I’d like to see more senior programs and expanded recreational opportunities. I’ll explore partnerships with area schools to offer more programs and recreational opportunities at a reduced cost. I’ll also work to streamline services, possibly through tech upgrades, to make them more user-friendly. Any unnecessary services will be evaluated and possibly reallocated to more pressing needs.
Raman: Our fire department is setup as a unique hybrid of full time and part time staff. It used to work for us but it doesn’t anymore. We have lost more than half of our part time firefighters to other departments and stations frequently go unstaffed. We need to find a solution to ensure stations are staffed at all times. I would also work to increase funding for our library so it can continue to provide the wonderful services residents rely on.
Staudt: City services for our aging and physically challenged residents, including transportation, needs to be expanded to include more options. This will be accomplished by creating and funding a city department dedicated to this very important and growing group of residents.
Casey: I’m focused on understanding the needs of our older adults. The Older Adult Needs Committee has been learning about transportation, housing and what programs and services are needed, among other topics. We’ve recently held focus groups to speak directly with residents and our likely next step is to conduct a survey. This will help us understand what’s needed and then we can take the right action to meet those needs. The city does a great job today with what we offer and we must ensure we are looking holistically at creating the right opportunities for our older adults going forward.
Dooley: I currently sit on Novi’s Older Adults Needs Committee to address our aging population and meet their current and future needs. We are looking to keep OAN transportation free of charge, increase OAN programs and for me to personally champion and advocate for the education toward medical coverage. I would expect the city to continue delivering award winning overall public safety including police, fire, first responders, CERT, etc. The City of Novi is an employer very desirable for those with a call for public safety. We should be able to continually attract top ‘safety driven’ talent at competitive wages.
Heintz: Communication between residents and the city is lacking. Residents have expressed concern of feeling ignored or left in the dark. I am interested in strengthening communication with residents by providing multiple opportunities and directions. I think city council should visit HOA community activities and meetings to connect with Novi communities. Additionally, I am interested in hosting coffee hours and town halls to engage with Novi residents.
Raman: Our teachers and first responders should be able to afford to live in the community that they serve and our seniors should be able to age in place. We need housing options that fit all budgets. We have a diverse tax base that includes businesses. I believe we need to encourage more small business and incentivize would be entrepreneurs to consider repurposing some of the vacant properties around town of their needs.
Staudt: Affordable senior housing is in very limited supply. With property values and taxes soaring, it is becoming very difficult for our aging residents to remain in their homes in Novi. I would proposed we build another facility like Meadowbrook Commons to allow our residents to remain in Novi at a reasonable cost.
Casey: Single-family and multi-family housing in Novi is robust and varied. The number of units in senior living facilities has increased. However, there is a limited inventory of smaller homes with first-floor living for older adults who want to downsize and remain in Novi. As our population ages, this type of housing is a good opportunity. There isn’t space available to build large housing developments, but we can and should consider ways to encourage smaller developments with ranch-style houses. This could include zoning changes and programs to encourage developers to build these types of homes in Novi.
Dooley: Not so sure we are lacking for future business opportunities here in Novi. There is currently a healthy and robust national and international commercial business presence in our city. As far as housing options, there may be an opportunity to make it affordable for first time homeowners or to expand the amount of rental housing. There may be an opportunity to use inclusionary zoning requirements to set up a portion of residential units within Novi. This would need a coordinated effort to lower the cost of buying a home to create long-term affordable homeownership opportunities as property values continue to increase.
Heintz: Novi lacks housing opportunities for our aging residents. As families grow and kids move out of childhood homes, our aging Novi residents are often interested in staying in this amazing city, however there are limited options to downsize. I am interested in identifying existing developed spaces, rather than removing additional green spaces, to expand housing options for our senior residents. This will fill a need for our seniors and also open up housing in Novi for young families to raise their children.
Peddiboyina: I disagree with the question’s premise that there’s a deficiency. I’ll let Novi’s residents decide which businesses succeed or fail through their patronage. As for housing, Novi is an upscale community. Our residents – especially our seniors – have invested a lot to live here, with our safe neighborhoods, world class schools, and efficient, clean, low-tax government. Our residents’ investment in Novi has been rewarded with home values increasing by more than 50% during the past decade. My first obligation is to protect their investment because it’s what makes all the Novi services and amenities that we enjoy possible.
Staudt: After more than 20 years of public service to Novi, including 16 years on city council, I still have a strong desire and passion to serve. As I seek re-election, I offer voters the proven experience, non-partisan, Novi focused values, leadership and vision that can’t be matched by any other candidate for city council. I would appreciate your vote this November or by absentee ballot.
Casey: It’s been an absolute honor to serve my community on City Council for the last 12 years. I take the responsibilities I am entrusted with seriously. Novi has been my home for more than 23 years – I’m proud of the work that’s been done and the community that we are. If residents want to share their thoughts and ideas, I can be reached via my website at caseyfornovi.com or on Facebook at Re-elect Laura Casey to Novi City Council. I appreciate your consideration when you vote absentee or at the polls on November 7th. Thank you.
Dooley: Novi is one of the most desirable cities and towns to live in, not only in Michigan but nationally as well. We have seen those statistics and should be proud of that. We embrace diversity and inclusiveness and encourage each other to do so. People have told me for years how much of me is woven into the fabric that is Novi. It would be an honor to serve you on Novi City Council. It would be my privilege to have your vote and support this November 7th. We are Community Strong and Dooley Driven.
Heintz: I believe the number one task for an elected official is to listen to residents, everyone. Whether you have lived in Novi your entire life or just moved here, YOU are part of this community and should have a voice in its future. There is no debate that Novi is a great city. I am asking for your vote Matt Heintz for Novi City Council so that I can continue to listen to you and be a voice for you, advocating for our community and for our future.
Peddiboyina: I immigrated to America 25 years ago in search of opportunity. I’ve realized my potential in ways that are simply not possible in most parts of the world. In America, not only is it possible, it’s common. It’s so common that many people take it for granted. They don’t see the specialness that is all around us. Well, I don’t take it for granted, and it’s why I’m running for city council. I’ve achieved the American Dream, and I want to make sure you, your children, and future Novi generations also get their chance at it.
Raman: I am running because I‘ve been speaking with residents, at doors and around town. I hear you when you say you want a safe, sustainable, connected and inclusive Novi where fire stations are fully staffed and we work to reduce our carbon footprint. Where public transit is fully realized and we celebrate the incredible diversity of our residents. This is OUR community, and we get to choose OUR future. I would be honored to earn your vote on or before November 7th! www.ournovi.com
More:Election 2023: After 12 years, Novi to elect new mayor. Here are the candidates, their views
Contact reporter Susan Bromley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-281-2412. Follow her on X @SusanBromley10.
NOVI — Voters in the city will elect on Nov. 7 three city council members from a field of six candidates that includes two incumbents and four newcomers. They will join on the council one of the two men running for mayor.