The Craig Fahle Show

Mayor of Westland Bill Wild On Compassion, Community & Consolidation

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Photo courtesy of The City of Westland

Westland Mayor William "Bill" Wild sits down with Craig to discuss the accomplishments and challenges faced by residents in his community.

Wild is also in the race to unseat current Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, but today, he joins Craig to discuss the financial hurdles in Westland and what he’s been doing to approach city services in a compassionate and innovative way.

Wild says it can be difficult to merge departments with other communities, but sharing a Fire Chief with other nearby cities has increased services for residents while cutting spending significantly. The cities’ fire department has been renamed the Wayne Westland Fire Department to reflect the change.

Cooperation with cities including Wayne, Inkster and Garden City has been crucial in restructuring Westland’s budget. “Once you get over the hump of worrying about losing your identity, you realize how much good you can do to save your city,” Wild tells Craig. Westland schools also had to make room to include new students following consolidations. “It’s a touchy subject,” he says but the transition has been a smooth one, according to Wild.

Wild is also spearheading the Compassionate City Initiative in Westland. He says the concept is to reform certain practices and policies in the city to take the well-being of residents into consideration. Emphasizing work with local non-profits and neighborhood outreach organizations are some of the ways Wild is trying to create increased awareness and compassion in the city.

Wild is also putting public dollars into revitalizing the shopping and dining district in the city. When Westland was created in 1966, the Westland Shopping Center was booming and many big-box stores came to the area. However, since then the city’s lost “a lot of those big-box retailers during the recession,” Westland is revamping some of that area and re-purposing other parts.

The city is diversifying these big boxes and creating a new Medical Center and even renovating and transforming an old Circuit City into a new City Hall. Wild says the biggest hurdle is still trying to move forward despite declines in revenue. Even though the city currently has a balanced budget, “we need to continue that and recognize that consistency is important,” he says.

As for Mayor Duggan?

Wild says he supports Detroit’s new Mayor and urges him to “just keep doing what he’s doing,” because so far, his work is creating visible change that’s making a difference in Detroit. “He’s tackling the issues that others have put off,” Wild says, and if there’s one thing Wild knows, it’s that taking action is at the core of creating positive change.

--Annamarie Sysling