By Brett Milam,
The city of Milford has a new councilman after Justin Bonnell tendered his resignation on Feb. 7 to pursue business interests that took him out of the city.
At the April 4 meeting of council, Fred Albrecht, a businessman of 40 years and the co-owner with his wife Suzette of Proforma Albrecht & Co., a promotional advertising company on Techne Center Drive in Milford, was sworn in as the new councilman after a 4-2 vote, filling Bonnell’s seat through the end of his term, which lasts until December 2019.
Candidates for the position had a chance to give a presentation before council, with council having a chance to then ask questions. The winning candidate needed four votes from council to fill the seat officially.
During his presentation, Albrecht, whose father was a lieutenant in the Skokie Fire Department in Chicago and his mother a police dispatcher, said he’s lived in Milford for two years and has been in the same industry for 40 years.
“I worked for the village of Skokie as a garbage man, so I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had to earn what we have,” Albrecht said. “The first 20 years, I built a business from $6 million to $40 million, it was an ex-family business, so I started over again in 1999.”
That new business was Proforma Albrecht & Co., where Albrecht employs 42 people, with 80 sales representatives across the country.
“We built that really as a start-up with no sales, no sales people and have attracted 80 great professional sales people and we did $34 million in sales last year,” he said.
His business experience matters, Albrecht said, because what he’s done in his business life applies to what council decides every day.
“I was reading through some of the minutes in the last five or six meetings you’ve had and you had to approve a $64,000 contract for software; well, I’ve done that many, many times and I think that experience would help on council when you have those kinds of future decisions to make,” he said.
Albrecht then said he believes in planning.
“I know that you’re working on a comprehensive plan now, which I think is phenomenal. I believe in it,” he said. “If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen.”
Albrecht said he loves the city.
“I think anybody whose watched my Facebook posts, I’m fairly positive about what’s going on in the city,” he said. “I’d really like to see more businesses come in, more diverse businesses.”
He added, “I’m here to lend my service. What I do every day is coach, coach people.”
The other candidate was Kim Chamberland, who has lived in Milford for almost 22 years with her husband Richard and their two children.
“I have served our community for the last 20 years, either by volunteering for the schools and a number of local organizations,” Chamberland said.
She was also part of the city’s beautification committee and on the board of the Historic Milford Association, she said.
Chamberland also sits on the board of the Milford Miami Township Chamber of Commerce.
Over the last 10 years, she said she’s had an opportunity to get to know a lot of local businesses.
“We have a great diversity, as well as local businesses and big box businesses,” she said. “We can either be dining at regionally known restaurants, as well as smaller mom and pops. I just love the diversity of our city.”
She added, “I really feel that the growth that I’ve seen in Milford that last 25 years is wonderful forward progress and I’d like to be part of that moving forward.”
Chamberland said she started her own gardening business in 2008 called My Personal Gardner, where, as a small business owner, she has to be a good listener and work with a budget and be a “good steward of other people’s money.”
“So I believe this track record also qualifies me to be a good candidate for council,” she said.
She added, “Our community is that hidden treasure and gem.”
There was a third candidate, who did not show for the presentation.
“I think you guys both have your heart in the right place,” Councilman Ed Brady said before the vote. “Good experience, we can’t go wrong from my view with either one of you. As I vote, I would be thinking about the amount of experience in volunteering and how often I think I’ve seen people volunteering here in council chambers.”
Mayor Laurie Howland, Vice Mayor Amy Brewer, Councilwoman Sandy Russell and Councilman Ted Haskins voted for Albrecht, while Councilman Ed Brady and Councilwoman Lisa Evans voted for Chamberland.