In the following days, Patch will provide profiles of candidates for the Brentwood Board of Aldermen in the April 3 election. Gary S. Bierman is running for Ward 4.
One of the memorable traits about Brentwood aldermanic candidate Gary S. Bierman is his manner of speaking. He pauses several seconds before responding to questions, carefully weighing the significance of each word before he says it.
He’s that reflective; kind of like a retired philosophy professor. And he looks like one too–bearded, balding and a bit portly.
“I try to get the right phrasing,” said Bierman, who wants to become the next Ward 4 alderman. “I consider myself a better writer because I can edit.”
For a year, Bierman wrote a column in the Brentwood Forest Condominium Association’s monthly newsletter, ForestLine, until he was as the organization’s president in January. Among other things, the board accused him of using the newsletter for political purposes. “I’m still trying to figure out what edition they were talking about,” Bierman said.
Ward 4 is basically the , a 1425-unit multiple-use complex built in the 1950s as apartments and gut-rehabbed in the 1980s.
A semi-retired homebuilder, Bierman sat down with Patch on a recent afternoon to talk about himself, the city and Ward 4 at his Brentwood Forest condo. Divorced, he is a father of two grown daughters, a stepfather of two adult children and grandfather of four.
With the door to his patio open — it was an unusually warm day — we sat in his living room. A table nearby was piled with papers; the glass panes of a wood secretary were dotted with post-it notes. Although he no longer uses daily planners, Bierman has kept about 30 years of them — for possible reference.
An avid reader who would have liked to become a history teacher, Bierman believes Brentwood needs new oversight and that he has the experience to do it.
He used to be an alderman. In the mid 1980s–Bierman doesn’t remember exactly when–he was appointed to complete the unfilled term of another Brentwood alderman who died. Bierman was later re-elected.
In 2010, Bierman ran again for alderman and lost to Krewson. “I was not going to run again, all things being equal, but with the turmoil that has occurred at City Hall, I think it would be helpful, providing new oversight. A new set of eyes,” he said.
“There may be nothing else wrong, but with the proper oversight, I think people will start to get a comfort level,” he said. And that he believes that is top issue facing Brentwood today: regaining the trust of its constituents.
However, Bierman believes the city is stepping in the right direction and its “is just excellent.”
He feels confident he can work with the present administration despite the scandals that have rocked it. “Sometimes individual items sound more serious than they are,” he said. “They were, perhaps, innocently overlooked in review.”
But Bierman, who used to wear a pocket protector and a slide rule clipped to his belt, would have handled the city budget differently. He would have had a committee from the board or the entire board review certain programs in detail on a regular basis.
“You have to ask the hard questions periodically,” said Bierman, who is particularly concerned about the city’s ability to sustain escalating salaries and keep up with its pension responsibilities. “All this deserves study,” he said.
Bierman believes that his 50+ years of experience in construction will bode well for Brentwood and Ward 4.
“I have knowledge of construction, maintenance and budgeting,” he said. He has worked for construction companies, big and small, including his own firm, Town and Country Homes Inc., which has been dormant for two years.
“I did the annual budgets for this place (Brentwood Forest Condominiums) for ten years.” Bierman was involved in the development of the complex, and was the association’s first civilian president. He has been a unit owner at Brentwood Forest for the past 25 years, and has lived there for the past five years.
“So much of what I’ve done in construction and community organizations is try to present all sides of an issue, “ Bierman said. “I encourage discussion,” he said. “Wide-ranging discussion.”
With regard to the aging , Bierman “wants an insider’s view” i.e. he wants to talk to other aldermen.
“They have to bring me up to date, take me on a tour and present it (information) from two different viewpoints: what maintenance can be done to the existing structure or its replacement. I think I have the experience to look at it without a jaundiced eye.”
However, he admitted it has been quite a while since he stepped in the rec center.
Although Bierman is pleased with the number of services the city provides Ward 4, he wants city codes and inspections evenly and intelligently applied to the condos.
“These are 60-year-old structures that were remodeled–gut rehabbed–25 years ago,” he said. It's not like the rest of Brentwood.
If elected, Bierman says he will be fair to the city of Brentwood and to Ward 4.
“I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to study,” he said. “I’m willing to change my mind but work toward some sort of a consensus that moves us forward instead of getting bogged down with rock-hard opposing positions."