Tuesday, November 8, voters are being asked to decide who will represent them in a number of elective offices. Birmingham school voters are also being asked to approve an operating millage renewal. All voters will be asked to decide the fate of a regional mass transit millage. We have posted all of the candidate questions and responses on our website, downtowpublications.com.
Representative in Congress
9th District – Two-year term
This congressional district is represented by Sander Levin (D), after it was significantly redistricted in 2010, with its boundaries spread from Roseville, Eastpointe and Royal Oak to Bloomfield Township, which appears to be the forgotten stepchild. Despite repeated requests, we heard from neither Levin nor challenger Christopher Morse (R), so we cannot endorse in this contest.
11th District – Two-year term
Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills
We hear good things about how incumbent Republican congressman David Trott is running a responsive office in Washington D.C., which he no doubt models after long-term congressman Bill Broomfield, who represented most of this district decades ago, and for whom Trott worked as a staffer. We supported Trott in the 2014 primary election when he ran against a renegade fringe GOP one-term incumbent, but we did not support him in the general election.
Our thoughts then, and now, are that his views are simply not representative of the majority of district residents. We said then that his conservative position on many issues bordered on the far right, and we can only assume those views have not changed, since we were not afforded time in his schedule to discuss our concerns, and his questionnaire consisted of GOP talking points, without detail.
We are throwing our support behind Democrat ANIL KUMAR, a physician and immigrant success story who seems well grounded on the issues confronting Congress today. We believe he is well versed on policy issues, and understands the financial and social issues of this multicultural district, with practical responses to immigration reform, gun control, job growth, and a stimulus program focused on infrastructure improvements and tax incentives. We are well aware he is running against someone who can pour millions into this race, but Kumar can keep up.
State Legislature – Michigan House
40th District – Two-year term
Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills
This district has been well-represented by two-term Rep. MIKE MCCREADY (R), who has been an effective leader, and he has built strong relationships in the legislature. McCready has been very focused on education, working with local superintendents and not lobbyists, and has worked hard on the Detroit Public Schools crisis. On most issues, we find he is in sync with his communities, whether on regional transit, medical marijuana guidelines and ordinances, mandatory water testing in schools, and other issues. We’ve also been pleased to see him break ranks with the Republican party when necessary to better represent the people of the community. Independence is a good sign of leadership.
County Executive/Four-year term
In another year, Democrat Vicki Barnett, former Farmington Hills mayor and state representative, would have been the logical, and progressive, choice to lead Oakland County in the 21st century. But it is hard to quibble with the 24 years of unprecedented success and economic growth the county has enjoyed under the leadership of Republican L. BROOKS PATTERSON and the team he has assembled. While we do not always agree with the decisions he makes, and definitely wish he were more filtered in his commentary, it is impossible to dispute the excellent work he has done for Oakland County, and encourage voters to allow him to complete his vision. As he has announced this is his last run, both parties would be wise to be preparing for the 2020 election, and developing qualified candidates. We’d put Barnett up there. Just not yet.
County Prosecutor/Four-year term
Current prosecutor JESSICA COOPER (D) likens the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office to one of the largest law firms in Oakland County, with her as the CEO. We agree with her take on the position, which is a supervisory management position, not an active prosecutor. Cooper’s breadth of experience, which includes her eight years as county prosecutor, coupled with decades on the bench, first as district court judge, then circuit court judge, and Michigan Court of Appeals judge, provides her with the ability, as well as the jurisprudence, to oversee the prosecution of 20,000 cases a year. Two issues that were raised by her opponent, a skilled prosecutor, include questions about training of young prosecutors, which may or may not be valid, and that she does not personally prosecute cases. We agree with Cooper that the job is about overall management, and not showboating in the courtroom.
County Sheriff/Four-year term
Since MICHAEL BOUCHARD (R) was first appointed Oakland County sheriff in 1999, he has done a very professional job of both managing a department of 1,300 members with 11 community substations, and numerous patrol units and law enforcement teams, as well as staying ahead of the curve in recognizing what is needed for county sheriffs. He operates on the national stage in law enforcement – as a member of the National Sheriff’s Association, vice president of government affairs of Major County Sheriff’s Association of America, a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force – which leaves all of us better protected and equipped with Homeland Security. However, we do disagree with some of his efforts, including his zeal in targeting medical marijuana dispensaries. His opponent is unqualified in any respect to be running a police department.
Clerk/Register of Deeds/Four-year term
This was probably our toughest endorsement, one we spent countless hours debating, because both candidates are qualified to do the job – and have; Democrat Lisa Brown, for 3.5 years, 2012-present, and Republican Bill Bullard for two years, from 2010-2012 when he lost to Brown. Both bring a background of government service in other elected offices. Both have made electronic improvements to the office as far as managing and retaining records. Both have proven they can run elections. All things considered, however, we are throwing our support in this race to Democrat LISA BROWN, who now holds the position. Local municipal clerks tell us she does a good job on elections, and on the register of deeds portion of the job, we trust Brown will continue to push for further electronic improvements in her next term. No need for a change in this office.
County Treasurer/Four-year term
We are impressed with how well Democratic incumbent ANDY MEISNER is doing with the position, where he is proving to be a strong treasurer. Besides being a financial manager, he has been an innovator in the position, creating the Foreclosure Prevention Initiative to fight all foreclosure in Oakland County, helping thousands to save their homes – and generate $78 million in revenue. His investment philosophy is conservative but transparent, following the county’s dictum of safety, liquidity and return in order of importance. Focusing on safety first, he expanded the county’s investment policy to include county credit unions and community banks, which lent to families and small businesses during the Great Recession while bigger banks didn’t. Nice move, and just one more reason to not make a change in this position.
Water Resources Commissioner/Four-year term
We recommend JIM NASH (D), an avowed environmentalist, in order to allow him to continue his department’s work to prevent the spread of invasive species, stormwater pollution, and oil drilling near our local waters and around water well aquifers. He is spending valuable time working with communities across the county and the state to develop best practices.
County Commission/Two-year term
Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township
SHELLEY GOODMAN TAUB (R) has a long history as a strong voice for the community, as a county commissioner from 1993-2002, a state representative from 2002-2006, and since 2009, once again an Oakland County commissioner. She is a committed leader who understands the issues confronting residents, and because of her legislative experience, knows how to get things done. She works across the aisle in her efforts to put her constituents first, a much-admired trait. Her influence now extends statewide as chair of the Michigan Association of Counties, the first from Oakland County.
Democrat MARCIA GERSHENSON has been the county commissioner for this district since 2004, and she is a positive and passionate voice for the district and its residents. Gershenson consistently works across the aisle to accomplish her agenda of improving seniors’ lives; job retraining programs for the local workforce; and water testing for safer drinking water in the county, among other issues. She understands what confronts all of Oakland County, and has consistently been proactive as a commissioner.
Birmingham Schools Board of Education
Four seasoned Board of Education members have chosen to not run for re-election this year, which out of a board of seven, will mean a major turnover. The two highest vote totals will get a six-year term and then two four-year terms will be awarded in this election. We were looking for the four candidates who would be best prepared additions to the school board, and were most impressed with AUDRA BARTHOLOMEW and ADRIENNE YOUNG, who were both knowledgable and informed on the issues, including school funding. Both are former teachers with masters in education. COREY Jacoby and BRIAN JENNINGS are also strong choices.
Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education
Bloomfield Hills Schools has three incumbent board members, MARK BANK, JACQUELINE EL-SAYED, and CYNTHIA VON OEYEN, that are extremely knowledgable about the fiscal side of the school district, worked collaboratively with each other, the administration, schools, and the community to successfully merge the two high schools into one new one while rebuilding the new Bloomfield Hills High School. We did not hear any reason to not return these board members for new four-year terms.
Birmingham Schools Millage
Residents living in the Birmingham Public Schools district are being asked to support an operating millage renewal to allow the district to continue levying up to 10.9236 mills for general operating purposes (a reduction from the previously approved 11.3111 mills) on all taxable property, to allow the district to receive the full revenue per pupil foundation allowance permitted by the state. Currently, Birmingham Schools is only levying 8.5642 mills of these mills on personal residences. Vote YES.
Regional Mass Transit Tax
Voters in Oakland, as well as Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties, will be asked to decide the fate of a regional mass transit tax of 1.2 mills for 20 years to develop bus rapid transit and commuter rail to be developed over the life of the millage. If three of the four counties approve the tax, then it will be binding on all counties. This tax will be in addition to the current SMART(Suburban Mobile Authority for Regional Transportation) tax paid in some communities.
While we support the concept of mass transit, we can’t support this proposal as now presented. As we have said before, this is really a plan for a plan – one that has too many details to be worked out
Vote NO and let officials bring the plan back once all details have been finalized. That is how good government should work.