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COUNTY COMMISSION/19TH DISTRICT

Birmingham

CHARLIE CAVELL

Democrat


Charlie Cavell of Ferndale is in his first term as an Oakland County commissioner. A social worker, he earned his BSW from Wayne State University and his MSW from University of Michigan. He is a member of the Birmingham Bloomfield Democratic Club, Sierra Club and UAW Local 1980. Cavell is a board member on Oakland County Water Affordability Coalition and Oakland County Community Corrections Advisory.


Mass transit for Oakland County


The Oakland County Board of Commissioners recently voted to place on the November ballot a .95 mill tax for county-wide mass transit. The millage would be levied for 10 years, starting in 2022. The proposal does not allow for any communities to opt out of the mass transit program, which some communities have done in the past. Some are also questioning whether there will be less demand for an expanded mass transit system given the fact that workplace habits, during the pandemic crisis, have leaned more toward remote working. Do you support the mass transit tax? Please explain.


Yes, I support this for both economic and social reasons. Economically speaking, while fewer people are having to go to a physical office, that doesn’t mean there are fewer people out and about using our roads. Other communities that have comprehensive mass transit have an economic multiplier that comes from having a complete system. Additionally, communities like Birmingham that have already opted into this program are getting a reduction in taxes. Also, this being the first 10-year proposal allows for strategic and smart investments that are unable to be made when you have a four-year millage. Speaking towards social values, we want everyone in our county to be able to live full lives. Transit is one way that we can make Oakland County a more accessible place for seniors, people who use wheelchairs, those unable to afford a car, people unable to drive – people with epilepsy, closed head injuries, DUIs, etc.


Museum millage questions


Earlier this year officials from Detroit had been pushing to have Oakland and Wayne counties place on the ballot a .4-mill tax for up to 20 years for the Detroit Historical Museum, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Although officials eventually backed down on asking for the tax this year, it is more than likely they will return in the future. Would you support placing this millage question before voters in Oakland County and would you personally support this tax request? Why or why not?


I believe that if voters are willing to add .4 mill to their taxes, what should come first is a mental health and/or childcare and/or senior millage. That being said, it is vital that we support our cultural institutions. This is why I’m extremely grateful that the state of Michigan stepped in and provided earmarks to support our cultural pillars.


Highland Park Water and Sewer debt


Highland Park, a member of the Great Lakes Water Authority, since 2012 has failed to pay for what now amounts to over $54 million in water and sewer debt, which means member communities in Oakland County will be placed in a position to underwrite this debt whether through increased rates for water and sewer or tapping budget reserves to accomplish the same. The state of Michigan has failed to deal with this issue. What do you think should be the solution to this growing problem of a GLWA member community failing to pay for water and sewer services? Please be specific.


There are two things that I believe should be the solution to this growing problem. First, because the state of Michigan has more budget capacity, it should be the one taking on the debt to bail out the GLWA system as a whole. Secondly, isolating Highland Park as a singular bad actor in the GLWA system discounts the other communities that have also faced problems. Whether intentional or not, this framing presents as unproductive, divisive and has tinges of racism. The GLWA system has a responsibility to serve all members of the system. This includes Highland Park just as much as it includes Birmingham. As a homeowner, I am okay to pay my fair share to support Highland Park as we are all one region.


Oakland's sustainability efforts


Oakland County Executive David Coulter has appointed the county's first sustainability officer as part of the county's effort to address global warming issues in the coming years. Do you support the county's efforts on this undertaking? Should the board of commissioners have a role in setting the agenda for reaching carbon neutral goals in the future?


Yes. Currently, our team is working on launching a home weatherization program targeted at middle-class homeowners with the county’s sustainability director. I mention this because sustainability takes many forms, especially at a local level. Yes, it means achieving climate goals like being carbon neutral but it also means building climate resilient infrastructure, expanding recycling, helping communities purchase environmentally friendly energy at a cost-savings, and programs that benefit you directly – like home weatherization.


Future of the board of commissioners


The size of the county board of commissioners has been reduced over several decades, each time with the reduction being billed as a way to save taxpayer funds. The most recent change in board size, prompted by Democrats taking control of the board, reduced the size from 21 commissioners to 19. Some have suggested that the ultimate goal may be to reduce the size of the board to 15 members, as in Wayne County, followed by a sizable annual pay increase. Oakland County commissioners now make $37,000 annually, plus health care benefits. In Wayne County, the pay rate is $61,800. Do you think the board size should be reduced further, accompanied by a sizable increase in pay?


No.


2020 presidential election results


Do you accept the presidential election results of 2020 in Michigan? Will you accept the results of the 2022 primary and general election? Explain why or why not.


Yes, because I trust the election process.


Key issues


What do you believe are the key issues facing Oakland County at this time? How would you work to resolve the issues?


Racial, social, environmental, and economic justice! This means helping people be able to afford to live in Oakland County and have a high quality of life here. Socially, this means access to affordable child care, attainable housing, trustworthy infrastructure, and responsive public services. This also means helping locally owned businesses thrive, again rooting our sense of community. These are all initiatives that our team has helped champion in our first term.


Why you


Why should voters select you over your primary opponent? Please be specific in drawing your comparison.


The reason I ran for office is to bring empathetic leadership to our government. All too often, our way of doing business is transactional and not people-focused. I, with our team, hope to transcend transactional politics by being transparent, effective, progressive, and accessible. I sincerely care about you and want you to be happy and healthy here in our shared community.

JOSEPH PUCCI

REPUBLICAN


Joseph Pucci of Huntington Woods is Vice President of JLA Insurance Group. He has an associate's degree from Macomb County Community College and his bachelor's degree in environmental and political studies from Michigan State University. He sits on the board of directors of Transportation Club of Detroit.


Mass transit for Oakland County


Absolutely not, it will be my biggest platform as to why I should be elected. No mass transit.


Museum millage questions


No, we can’t keep taxing Oakland County citizens for other county expenditures.


Highland Park Water and Sewer debt


We ought to sue the delinquent counties and cities for the share we have paid on their behalf, and never ever pay for someone else’s debt again.


Oakland's sustainability efforts


No, ESG and all this sustainability is a complete farce and waste of money, none of it is trackable by way of an ROI (return on investment) so it just needs to go.


Future of the board of commissioners


No, the board of commissioners needs to be brought back to the 21, the Democrats just gerrymandered the board for their dominance in party line voting. If you want to save money, the pay and size of a small commissioner board is not the place to start. Perhaps the money for the WEF/Automation Alley boondoggle would be a good place to save $3 million. A pay increase is merited for Oakland County, the wealthiest county in Michigan isn’t even on par with the same role in Wayne County. It needs to be looked at certainly.


2020 presidential election results


No, there was blatant corruption with voting machines and tabulation for 2020. I can’t yet speak to the validity of 2022.


Key issues