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COUNTY COMMISSION/1ST DISTRICT

Birmingham

DAVID WOODWARD

Democrat


David Woodward has been chairman of the Board of Commissioners since 2019, and has been an Oakland County commissioner since 2005. A resident of Royal Oak, he previously served in the state House of Representatives. He has a bachelors degree in mathematics from Wayne State University, is a trustee for Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union and is past president of Oakland County Health Plan.


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.


This proposal is an Oakland County solution for improving transit in Oakland County. It has bipartisan support, and I support it. We need better transit service in Oakland County. We have an aging population with growing transportation challenges. We have veterans, people with disabilities, and others who do not have access to a car to get to health care, work, school, or other places they need to go. We need a basic level of transit for everyone. If this proposal doesn’t pass, there is virtually no longer funding for public transportation in Oakland County. The proposal on the ballot maintains transit service we have in place, expands routes and increases senior and other door-to-door transit service across the county to make transit better for everyone, and it does so at a rate less than what most are currently paying for public transportation.


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?


The state legislature must act first by passing a new law, and the details of that legislation will inform my position on the issue today and into the future. I value the contributions of all our museums. In Oakland County, we are fortunate to have many museums like the Cranbrook Institute of Science, the Holocaust Memorial Center, the Chaldean Cultural Center, and many other local historical museums. Preserving our history is important, and we need to be working together to ensure these important cultural and historic places are here for future generations.


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.


The state created this problem. The state has the obligation to fix it! GLWA is a customer funded operation, and no other community should be expected to or required to pay the debts and obligations of any other community. I’m proud to have supported efforts that ended the GLWA practice for subsidizing one community by all the others. The state should fund the resolution in the short term, and place Highland Park on a payment plan. We all understand the cost to maintain and update old water and sewer infrastructure in the region (some of which dates back to the Revolutionary War) is expensive. We all must pay our fair share in making the investments to guarantee safe drinking water, and the best treatment of sewer water possible. The cost is allocated to each local community proportionally. Every community is expected to pay its fair share.


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?


The board provided the funding to create the position, and we are a key partner in setting the policy and priorities to reduce county carbon emission levels 50 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. This is a massive undertaking that involves evaluating all external and external energy usages, looking for renewable energy replacements of current consumption, playing a leading role for the transition to electric vehicles, and retrofitting older buildings with more energy efficient operations. I helped develop and advance these county priorities. Oakland County can lead Michigan in addressing climate change. We are working towards increasing the usage of renewable energy, improving county buildings’ energy efficiency, working with local communities to advance proven best practices for addressing climate change, helping lower income households afford energy efficiency improvements, funding green water infrastructure, replacing our county tree canopy, and a host of other environmental initiatives.


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?


At 19 commissioners, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners remains among the largest public bodies in Michigan outside the state legislature. Nineteen commissioner allows the governing body of Oakland County to best serve the needs and priorities of 1.3 million people. For the next decade, I’m confident 19 locally elected officials can work together to approve an annual budget, and set policy priorities for public health, economic development, veteran affairs, parks and recreation, public safety and justice, and other public services.


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.


Biden beat Trump in Oakland County and in Michigan. (And Biden won the most presidential electoral votes in the 2020 election.) The Republican state Senate’s election investigation concurred with these findings. Every single local and federal court challenge by the Trump campaign has been dismissed or affirmed the Biden victory. Every recount effort validates the same results. I’m especially proud the Oakland County Board of Commissioners fully funded the clerk’s office so they could better help local clerks count absentee ballots, increase pay for election poll workers, helped pay for voters’ postage for absentee ballots, and funded other efforts to make it easier to vote in Oakland County, and make sure every vote is counted. The county continues to invest in election worker training, and working to make sure we have the best tools and equipment to run safe, healthy, and secure elections.


Key issues


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


Mental Health: Addressing mental health needs of our youth and our community as a whole is essential to our public health, community health, and public safety. We can no longer ignore the unmet needs that exist. Increasing our investment in mental health services for people, in our schools, and addressing substance abuse is needed. Electric Vehicles: As the auto industry makes the transition to electric vehicles, we need to work on building out the Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure needed to support the future. Oakland County doesn’t currently have the charging stations in place to meet the demand of the future. This will require coordination and cooperation with industry, the state, and local communities, to make sure we are best positioned by the end of the decade. Road and Sewer Infrastructure: The federal bipartisan infrastructure law gives us access to unprecedented resources to improve road and water infrastructure we’ve ignored for half a century. While we will make great improvements, we need a 20-year plan to fix the things we know are breaking. There is no getting around it. We need to maximize the resources we have today, and develop a plan to fix and maintain for the next 50 years.


Why you


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


I bring the best experience and leadership to govern Oakland County in a way that expands equality and opportunity to working families, seniors, and children who call our county home. I understand how county government works, and I continue to lead strategic investments into people and our local community to make sure everyone benefits from our shared prosperity. We are the economic engine of Michigan, and we are driving an economic agenda that ensures economic opportunity for everyone. We are making record investments in protecting our environment, and expanding our county parks and recreation. In 2022, we will adopt Oakland County’s first structurally balanced budget in decades – this will further position our county to remain the best fiscally managed county in America.


CHRIS MEISTER

REPUBLICAN


Chris Meister of Royal Oak is retired. He has a bachelor of fine art from Central Michigan University.


Mass transit for Oakland County


I do not support this mass transit tax, which would fund a one-size-fits-all, doomed-to-fail, half-baked plan that was rammed through the Oakland Board of Commissioners without input from the county’s 62 communities. These are cities, villages and townships that know best how to serve their diverse populations and their transportation needs. The board majority abuses its authority by repeatedly issuing such edicts of expansive, inefficient government to suit their political base but inflicts misery such as onerous taxes and regulations on the people at large.


Museum millage questions


I believe museums and other cultural institutions have a key role to play in society and community life, but they are best served through private support that keeps their focus on their mission. When tax dollars are involved, institutions are susceptible to political pressures that can reduce a noble mission to mere propaganda. Also, generous taxpayer funding creates temptation for institutions to expand their operations beyond fiscally responsible bounds, creating the risk of bankruptcy should a millage not be renewed. Vital institutions such as museums operate truer to their mission and with greater sustainability – and are therefore greater assets to their communities – with private funding. It would be better for Oakland County government to let its people keep more of their dollars so they can make cultural investments as they see fit.


Highland Park Water and Sewer debt


The failure of Highland Park to pay its water bill has created an unacceptable situation with no resolution in sight. The failure of the state of Michigan to provide any meaningful remedy is just as unacceptable. People of Oakland County should not commit one dime to relief unless a sustainable solution is in place. I do not have a solution and, having not created the problem, I do not think it incumbent on me, or the people of Oakland, to provide one. If an acceptable and sustainable solution is put forward, it can be considered. Simply throwing money at a problem without a solution is irresponsible, however.


Oakland's sustainability efforts


This program is a costly, irresponsible exercise in woke virtue signaling that is ripe for corruption. I do not believe the board of commissioners should have any role in any such boondoggle that is so destructive to the individual liberty of the people of Oakland County.


Future of the board of commissioners


I believe that smaller government is best as long as it remains representative of, and responsible to, all the peoples’ interests. This county has a large and diverse population, however, so it is questionable whether the people, or the politicians and their cronies, would be best served by a reduction of the board. The idea of dangling the inducement of greater individual pay for board members in exchange for thinning their ranks is despicable.


2020 presidential election results


One would have to be blind not see that the electoral process in Michigan has been thoroughly and shamefully corrupted, and only the delusional deny this reality. Regardless of any political affiliation or any particular results of any particular election, the honest people of Michigan should demand a true investigation into the system and the implementation of meaningful reform. Proud Michiganders deserve fair and secure elections, restricted to legal voters required to present identification as proof that they are who they claim to be when casting their ballots.


Key issues


Oakland County used to be the envy of the nation for its well-run government. Since the death of L. Brooks Patterson the county has gone downhill at hyper-speed. We need to turn the county around and get it back on the track of good, responsible governance.


Why you


In three years of control over the board of commissioners, my opponent has used his position to reward special interests with programs and pet projects that are destructive to the individual liberties of the people of Oakland County. County government should be about responsible management, not about power for its own sake. When I am on the board of commissioners, my vote will protect the individual from infringement on their rights by the powerful.

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