Candidate profile: Katie Schafer, Birmingham Commissioner

BIRMINGHAM, MI – There are three open seats for the Birmingham Commissioner in the November general election.

To help readers make informed choices, Patch has asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be posting candidate profiles as Election Day approaches.

Katie Schafer is a candidate for Birmingham Commissioner. Here’s how she completed her profile:



Married to Scott, children Oliver (6) and Elliot (4)

Does anyone in your family work in politics or in government?



University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, BS, psychology, 2002
Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, DO, 2007


Doctor / Pediatrician. 14 years old.

Previous or current office elected or appointed

Multimodal Transport Office, 2017 to present
Ad hoc committee on unimproved streets, 2018-2020

Campaign website

Why are you looking for an elective position?

I am ready to move from an appointed position to an elected position because I believe I have the skills to serve our city as a responsible and respectful public servant. Birmingham needs strong leaders with open minds to consider current issues and navigate planning for our future. Our city thrives on the deliberations of our elected officials, appointed board members, city staff and residents.

The most pressing issue facing our (council, district, etc.) is _______, and that’s what I intend to do about it.

We must not take the excellent urban services that Birmingham offers for granted and continue to work and implement policies that allow this to continue. In addition, we have a responsibility to plan for the future of Birmingham through careful, cooperative and truthful conversation and deliberation of the 2040 Master Plan. This planning will be done in consultation with residents, elected officials, city staff and consultants. Birmingham’s neighborhoods are part of its charm and deserve to be looked after and protected. But this care must be taken with the delicate balance of allowing the growth and continued dynamism of our city center.

What are the critical differences between you and other candidates for this position?

I think it’s best not to point out the differences between me and the other candidates, but rather to celebrate the qualities that I think will make me a great choice. On the one hand, if I were elected, I plan to work with my fellow Commissioners with the common goal of improving all of Birmingham. As a mother of two young children, a business owner and the daughter of a senior, I think I bring a well-rounded perspective. I will bring my experience as a pediatrician and business owner to help advocate for a new role, not only for my young patients, their families and staff, but for all residents of Birmingham. And as I do in my business, this advocacy role will take place while helping to keep the budget going and keeping Birmingham financially responsible. As a mother of two young children, I have the future in mind. And as the daughter of an elderly person who lives here as well, I will particularly focus on decisions and initiatives concerning the elderly.

If you are a challenger, how has the current board or incumbent failed the community (or district or constituency)

I am not in a position to challenge a commissioner who is currently in office. Rather, I have the great task of “filling the shoes” of these commissioners who have collectively spent the past 48 years volunteering their time to serve our city. To this end, if elected, I will have the responsibility of continuing to study past and current park plans, master plans, and I will have the honor of deliberating carefully and honestly on current issues with my elected colleagues. and city staff with input from our residents.

How do you think the local authorities reacted to the coronavirus? What if something would you have done differently?

I think the transition to a virtual meeting format during most of the pandemic, and now a hybrid format, was essential. This allowed the continuation of a vital discourse between our elected officials and the members of the board of directors as well as the commitment and contribution of residents, while ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.

I am a resident who cares deeply about the success of our city. I am the mother of two young boys, one of whom attends Birmingham public schools. I will strive to maintain the value of our properties so that our tax dollars serve the City, a city which, when well governed, can maintain excellent municipal services, fund award-winning schools, and build and maintain beautiful parks. I am a business owner who understands the importance of ensuring Birmingham is a welcoming community for business owners who wish to provide their services here. And, as the daughter of an elderly person who lives in Birmingham, I am fortunate to have an intimate knowledge of the unique needs of the elderly in Birmingham.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as proof that you can handle this job?

As a professional and business owner who has also spent time volunteering on city councils, I think I have proven that I am hard working and dedicated to what I am passionate about. I have proven that I can listen and work collaboratively. As a physician, caring for patients and their families has taught me to work with a variety of people, from diverse backgrounds, while sharing a common goal. In my business, that translates into the health and well-being of a child, as a commissioner — by the health and well-being of our community.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

As a resident physician-in-training, I have had the privilege of learning from physicians with experience far beyond my own, both in patient care and in solving difficult diagnostic dilemmas. A wise doctor in a pediatric intensive care unit taught me that “the eye does not see what the mind does not think”. In other words, you won’t see a problem clearly emerge in front of you unless you are well aware of all the potential possibilities. You should always be well informed when an important topic is at hand. In my role as Commissioner, this translates into understanding the documents submitted for study, listening to residents’ concerns and their application to unique situations and always using this knowledge to ensure that I make the best decisions to our city.

What would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

My intention to serve our community is sincere in nature. I will serve all of Birmingham as an honest, collaborative and driven advocate.

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