Horrigan-Happy lives in Bloomfield Hills. She is a technical advisor for Apple, and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University.
REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
After failing in 2016 by only one percent in Oakland County, there is a new regional transit plan proposed for the November ballot. Do you think a regional transit millage proposal should go on the ballot for all Oakland County communities? Why or why not? Should some Oakland County communities be allowed to opt out?
A regional transit system is essential to the economic vitality of southeast Michigan and for the quality of life for our residents in Oakland County. Cited as a major reason why Amazon did not consider locating their headquarters in the area, the lack of a seamless, area-wide public transportation system will continue to impede southeast Michigan from outside investment considerations. Additionally, as new talent is needed to sustain and grow existing businesses, mobility will be necessary to deliver the workforce. Recognizing that the demographic of the workforce is ever-evolving, transportation systems must be flexible and evolve to meet the new needs of the market. Without the skilled workforce readily available, growth for our businesses and communities will diminish.
Oakland County receives a limited amount of money – although increased from previous years – from the state for road construction. Do you think the county, either by itself or in cooperation with neighboring counties in southeast Michigan, should pursue a millage or a dedicated gas tax strictly for road repairs?
State funding for Michigan roads is distributed through Public Act 51, an antiquated and obsolete formula that distributes state funding based on a compromise between rural and urban lawmakers. The law was established in 1951 and has not changed in 67 years. Roads in northern Michigan receive the same funding as roads in southeast Michigan. Clearly, this distribution makes no sense. To be fair, state funding for roads should take into consideration large population centers and heavy industrial road use. Elected officials and lawmakers need to work together to develop common sense solutions to repair and maintain our seriously neglected infrastructure in southeast Michigan. Making good use of existing funds will benefit our county without imposing additional tax to our citizens.
IMPROVEMENTS TO THE COUNTY
Oakland County is once again the top-rated county in the state, with AAA-ratings and a 3.6 percent unemployment rate. The county has created a number of focused development efforts, such as Automation Alley. Do you think there are other concerted efforts the county should be launching at this time?
One of the most significant responsibilities of the Oakland County Commission is to prepare our community for the future. Our leaders must be in touch with current trends in business, the needs of our emerging workforce, and our ever-changing demographics. Providing the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the demographic makeup is essential to the growth and stability of our community. Addressing the growing need for access to mobility for our emerging workforce and recognizing the need for easily accessible transportation for our aging generation are two examples of efforts that should take priority in our county commission.
According to experts, teens and young adults are experiencing mental crises, with rising suicide rates. Hospitals are experiencing larger influxes of mental health patients. What should the county mental health division be doing to address this issue? Is there anything the county board of commissioners should be doing to address this issue?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, for a young person with symptoms of a mental disorder, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting problems as a child grows up. The CDC describes surveillance systems as critical for policy and program development, with a directive to support allocation of funding for services. Knowledgeable professionals along with the model “multi-tiered system of supports” delivers the proper framework for early interventions. The county board of commissioners should be working in tandem with the county mental health division to establish school programs. Programs should team on-campus social workers with counselors and teachers to identify early symptoms and start treatment for children with mental health issues.
Do you feel Oakland County is doing all it can to be a strong partner in the southeast Michigan region as it applies to the issue of regional cooperation?
Neighboring communities should be on the same team. The regional nature of economics which includes shared infrastructures maintained cooperatively will benefit not one but all communities within a region. A cooperative strategic policy will project a positive view to outside businesses looking to locate and expand. It’s clear considering the recent publicity around the Oakland County Executive that he does not want to participate in regional cooperation. This divisive nature of the communication by our elected official presents a chaotic image of southeast Michigan and discourages new enterprise from emerging in the area. To prosper, we need a fresh and inclusive perspective.
Oakland County is the home to hundreds of inland lakes and sits at the headwaters of six major rivers feeding the state’s waterways. Should the county be taking a stronger role in protecting the environment through a more aggressive approach with ordinances regulating items and activities that threaten our natural resources?
With the launch of the Oakland County Healthy Lakes Initiative the board of commissioners has taken the right step toward monitoring the lakes and waterways of Oakland County. The report of elevated levels of PFAS in fish from Kent Lake and the Huron River raise serious alarms that must be addressed with more aggressive ordinances to remove this pollutant from our environment.
Why should a voter choose you over an opponent on the ballot?
I am a first time candidate and I believe that my background prepares me well to provide fresh ideas and new thinking for the Oakland County community. As a new member of the Oakland County commission, I will provide transparency, integrity, and compassion for my fellow citizens. I believe that everyday people feel left out of decision making processes by our local officials that do not include issues that matter in their lives. Things like public transportation, clean drinking water, access to care for our seniors and affordable child care, common sense gun control, voting rights, equal rights and affordable health care are issues that matter to everyday people. I intend, as Oakland County Commissioner, to champion the issues affecting everyday people.
SHELLEY GOODMAN TAUB
Taub, a county commissioner since since 2009, and from 1993-2002, lives in Bloomfield Township. She is a former teacher who taught for 30 years, with a degree from the University of Michigan. She is also a former state Representative, 2002-2008, and the past chair of the Michigan Association of Counties.
REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
RTA will not be on the ballot in November. Should a proposal be put on the ballot in the future? If the plan is reasonable and serves the entire area, it should be considered, but the Oakland Board of Commissioner (BOC) does not have the ability to do so. The RTA Authority by statute places issues on the ballot. Oakland and Wayne County communities have always had the opt-out/opt-in provision. Why would an opt-out community ever opt-in when the RTA Authority has not ever had a plan to provide any bus service to most of the opt-out communities. Their current plan was to provide Ann Arbor with a train to Metro Airport. Is that where we want our tax dollar to go?
The Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC) has a limited jurisdiction. RCOC takes care of county and township roads, excluding Bloomfield Township which has its own road mileage. Cities and villages are state-funded and must care for their own roads. This is based on Public Act 51. If a mileage was placed on the ballot, distribution of the revenue could follow PA 51 unless a variance is chosen. Oakland County is unique in our tri-party funding, which adds more money to roads as well as funding for city and village road projects. What really has to happen to enable Oakland to receive the correct amount of state funding is a re-write of PA 51 which was passed in 1951. In 1951, Oakland County had more cows than cars.
IMPROVEMENTS TO THE COUNTY
There are lots of good jobs in Oakland County without enough skilled workers to fill them. Workforce Development has partnered with colleges, high schools and businesses to train the unemployed and underemployed for those positions. In November, Oakland County Workforce Development along with the Workforce and Education Roundtable (I am a member), local businesses and Oakland County Community College and others will have a hands on event, “ My Career Quest’ at the Surburban Collection in Novi for high school students. There will be four segments, Health Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology and Construction. Students will move from area to area, doing not just watching. It is the first time this type of event has taken place in metro Detroit. We also are busy trying to change the mindset in the community by repeating that every child does not have to go to college to have a fulfilling life.
Mental Health in Oakland County is an authority which is totally separate from county government. It's new name is Oakland County Health Network (OCHN). OCHN is responsible for mental health and substance use disorders. (I am chair of the Substance Use Advisory Board.) The OC substance abuse program is a model for Michigan. No waiting for substance abuse in- patient care! Area hospitals have been informed that a mental health patient can and should be sent to the Common Ground Crisis Center (800) 231-1127. This is the only crisis center with inpatient beds in Michigan. All police officers and deputies in Oakland County are trained by OCHN to spot mental trauma. They transport people to Common Ground located on the county campus. The Health Department has a Suicide Prevention Program. The Board of Commissioners funds a Bullying Training Program at the ISD. OCHN funds Narcan for the county.
Of course we want a strong and prosperous region. Oakland County is a good regional partner and regional leader having just passed the SMART millage as well as supporting the DIA Authority, the Zoo Authority, Cobo Hall and the Great Lakes Water Authority, all regional entities. Problems do arise when rather than being a partner, Oakland County is expected by some to be a funder without a voice. I believe that a county that has been voted over and over again as having the best management in our country should always have a seat at the table and a voice at the table. It has always been my contention that if you are not at the table, you are the dessert.
I am a member of the Board of Commissioners Clean Water Task Force looking into whether septic systems are leaching into lakes. Michigan is the only state without a septic code. Some states have the county health department inspect septic fields with state funding to supplement the cost. Other states have private contractors who charge the home owner or business. I have been working with the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) on this issue. The bill writer will be working with MAC in the fall to figure out the funding stream. Last winter, the OC BOC offered a free two Saturdays seminar on lake testing for residents. Over 100 riparians attended are testing their lakes this summer. Public Schools will have new water fountains this fall thanks to the BOC. All schools were offered either bottle filling or bottle fill and drinking fountains though a grant from the BOC.
1. I know how to get things done.
2. I am a leader in Oakland County: Caucus Chair; Chair: Substance Use Advisory Board; Chair: Community and Home Improvement Advisory Board;
Chair: Birmingham Youth Assistance
I am a leader in Lansing: President: Michigan Association of Counties (MAC)
I am a leader in Washington, DC: Chair of the Arts and Cultural Commission: National Association of Counties ( NACo)
Vice Chair of Health, Human Services and Education, NACo
Member of the NACo Board of Directors