On Tuesday, November 8, Oakland County voters are being asked to decide who will represent them in the U.S. House, the Michigan House of Representatives, county government, and on the Rochester school board. 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, to help voters make their determinations at the polls and via absentee ballots.
Representative in Congress
8th District – Two-year term
Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township
As often happens with a first-term congressman, incumbent Republican MIKE BISHOP has not done a lot in the last 1.5 years to distinguish himself in Washington D.C. His answers to our questionnaire didn't help – they were primarily standard Republican talking points and dogma, often evasive and not to the point. But elections are about who would be the most qualified to represent a district, and Bishop has a strong and lengthy history of service to the community, beginning as a state representative in Lansing, and then as a state senator, where he was Majority Leader. His current opponent is a fill-in candidate for a Hollywood actress who dropped out, and does not bring any experience to the table, Bishop continues as the better choice for voters in the 8th District, and should be returned to office.
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.
45th District – Two-year term
Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township
As a first-time representative in Michigan's legislature, MICHAEL WEBBER (R) successfully made the transition from long-time Rochester Hills city councilman to a state lawmaker, quite a different task. We are assuming he will develop more independence on issues as time goes on, in order to better represent his district, especially on critical issues facing his constituents and residents of the state of Michigan, including the need to require, and reimburse, schools to test water. We were very please at his support and sponsorship of legislation to extend transparency laws to the legislation and the governor's office, and we look forward to Webber's growth and leadership to continue.
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
Rochester, Rochester Hills
While recently appointed to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, Republican ADAM KOCHENDERFER spent several years as a city councilman for the city of Rochester Hills, as well as a Green Space Advisory board member. He understands the community, and his positions so far, notably on regional transit and school water testing, among other issues, are correct for the district, and he deserves to be returned to commission.
Rochester Community Schools Board of Education
MICHELLE BUELTEL, running to fill a partial term ending December 31, 2018, has a background of community involvement as well as a long history of participation with both the Rochester school district and the Oakland Intermediate School district. She has worked on a legislative task force, chaired numerous committees, including presiding over STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Bueltel has an understanding of the funding conundrum local school districts currently face, which will be an asset as a board member.
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.