Otto Jacqueline

Candidate Bio:

I could give you my credentials of having a bachelor’s degree in accounting and marketing and an MBA in Finance along with 20 years of executive leadership, but I am more than that. I take on each day to live authentically with faith [in God], love, and integrity – people matter me.

I grew up in a small farming community south of Ann Arbor and have lived most of my life in Michigan. Northfield Township is rich with agricultural and recreational attributes – farm to lake assets.   I understand the necessity of preserving those positive assets of our community while identifying new opportunities that will only enhance our value as a township – we can have both!

After thirteen years of living in Northfield Township and four years of being on the Township Board and ZBA, I have a heart for Northfield Township…this is my home and community. I want to continue being your Township Trustee because our community matters to me.

- Jacqueline Otto:

Northfield Neighbors Campaign Questions

  • Why are you running for office?

I believe in Northfield Township. It’s your community…it’s my community too. Northfield Township matters to me. Whether living in the farmlands or the lakes, I want Northfield Township to thrive. I believe I can make a positive difference and impact in our community. Whether providing servant leadership at work, at church or in my community, I am not a person who sits on the sidelines - I take action…because it matters.

  • What is your platform?

My platform is the same today as it was 4 years ago. Integrity and Sustainability. Integrity in leadership and transparency. Sustainability in making decisions that are positive and benefit the community as a whole. As a trustee, I am accountable to the voters – You. I don’t take that for granted. Because it’s your voice, your future, your township!

  • What is your approach to building consensus in groups with divergent perspectives?

Providing a means where people have a voice. Our community is made up of diverse groups with different interests. Even with the differences, we have one common ground – we are a community. We have a unique community that provides the benefits of lake venues with rural flavor. As a community, we are interconnected and interdependent upon each other. Therefore, any decisions made by elected officials cannot be made in a vacuum. It’s vital that individual citizens or groups have a voice – either through open forums at township meetings, town hall meetings, public hearings and/or community workshops that encourage feedback from the public. Open collaboration of voices offers a way to build consensus on solving complex issues that become mutually acceptable solutions.

  • Would you support a local ordinance requiring the Board to notify residents and get approval before spending more than $250,000 on a particular project?

Whether it’s $1.00 or $250,000, Township board members have a fiduciary responsibility to the voters and community in which they serve through Michigan statues (law). The community (You) are entitled to an elected official’s best judgement. By accepting the office as elected, township officials are “bound to exercise such judgement and to use their best exertions for the public good regardless of their own.” (11 Mich 222). As an elected official, I have no right to place my own interests above those of the public. As a fiduciary official, I have to engage in fair dealings and always act for the benefit of the public.

  • Would you support a millage for natural feature, farmland and open space preservation? If yes, what would you do to make that happen?

Yes and have done so in the past by supporting previous county millage. Washtenaw countywide millage was approved by voters in 2000 for natural areas preservation – the county has acquired more than 2,200 acres of land establishing 17 new nature preserves – several in Northfield Township. I would support the township establishing a Farmland and Open Space Preservation Committee to provide recommendations to the township board on potential initiatives within Northfield Township.

  • Are there any capital improvement projects you would support with taxpayer dollars after essential services are covered?

Our biggest issues facing, not only in our township, but in Michigan, is our roads. The roads in our community are the foundation of our infrastructure - the roads are a backbone of our community. Whether the roads are paved or dirt, the maintenance of our roads is a priority to me, not only for the past four years, but going forward. While the cost burden of our roads is the responsibility of Washtenaw County Road Commission, we can no longer be expect the township to stand idle and overlook our roads. The township should continue to appropriate capital improvements funds each year to road improvement projects with very little impact to the General Fund.

  • Do you support the current 5-acre zoning in our agricultural areas? If not, what zoning would you prefer and why?

I support what is outlined in the Master Plan and the existing land use. The Master Plan is a well-thought out strategic guide to assist us in managing growth while maintaining our unique Lakes to Farms character.

  • Are you familiar with our township’s Master Plan and do you support its vision for our community? If not, what would you change?

As a member of the Blue Skies Committee for four years (2009 – 2013), our committee was tasked with the Northfield Township Comprehensive Community Survey and assisted with the charrettes, a venue for public participation. The Master Plan is a well thought out blue print directing the future of Northfield Township. With input from the public through visioning sessions, the Master Plan strives to direct growth in appropriate areas based upon future needs and infrastructure in Northfield Township. The Northfield Township Master Plan is an important public policy that effectively addresses the needs of the community.

  • Do you think the Master Plan should be altered to accommodate a developer?

Amendments to the master plan are allowed as long as the township follows the procedures in the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. Michigan law is very clear on the concept of llowing the process and not looking at the content of the decision. The future land use map is a policy document that’s contained within the plan and be consistent with the Master Plan goals and objectives. Simply amending the future land use map would not necessarily support a rezoning that’s needed, especially in our Agricultural area.

While our Planning Commission is obligated to “hear” the requests of all developers, the decision to accommodate the request to alter the Master Plan has to show justification by the developer. For any development, whether it’s commercial or residential, the development proposed needs to be conducive to the area being considered – appropriate land use, projected traffic, internal road infrastructure, and public utility infrastructure. The goal of residential development is to enhance and bring value to a community without impacting the desired features and current infrastructure. For Northfield Township, the development should target land use already designated as MDR and provide benefits to the Whitmore Lake Public Schools.

  • Do you think sewers should be extended and the sewage plant expanded to promote residential development in our agricultural areas?

The extension and improvements of our sewer treatment facility should never be solely based on promoting future residential development. The current evaluation of our waste treatment system is based on the wet weather flow management and design capacity for our existing needs.

The township should be responsive to extension in the agricultural areas when appropriate and when property owners unanimously petition the board – such as the Whitmore Lake Road SAD or the North Territorial Road SAD. For Special Assessment Districts, bonds are issued to finance the project; the project is completed, and the bonds are repaid by property owners of the district in usually a 20 year term. Extension of sanitary sewer lines can enhance property values for property owners.

- Jacqueline R. Otto
Incumbent – Northfield Township Trustee
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