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Our endorsements for August primary

Voters in Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills will be determining the fate of primary candidates in the Tuesday, August 6, election, either at the polls or through absentee ballots which are now being mailed out by municipal clerks. There are decisions to be made by voters for Congress, state House, for Oakland County and Bloomfield Township elected officials.


A new public safety millage will face Bloomfield Township voters, and voters in the Bloomfield Hills School district will cast ballots to renew the schools' operating millage for 20 years.


This is a primary election in which you will be deciding who best can represent your party in the November general election, so you must vote on candidates in just one political party.


Downtown Newsmagazine sent questionnaires to candidates in all contested primary races, the answers to which can be found in our Voter Guide online at downtownpublications.com.


When making our recommendations we considered a number of factors based on answers from candidates and our institutional knowledge of candidates and issues. In determining who we thought could best represent a party heading into the November contests, we looked at both the views of the candidates, their ability to run a competitive campaign and how quickly they could assume office should they make it through the general election balloting. In addition, we took into account whether or not they accepted the results of the 2020 presidential election – a defining litmus test for us. In a couple of races, as noted, no candidates returned our questionnaires, limiting both your – and our – ability to determine who the best stand bearer will be to move forward for that race in the November election.


11th Congressional District – Two-year term

Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Waterford, West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Commerce, Wixom, White Lake, Walled Lake, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Keego Harbor, Lake Angelus, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Sylvan Lake, Troy, Wolverine Lake

Democrat


It's difficult to recommend a change when the Democrats have an incumbent candidate who is representing its district so well. Congresswoman HALEY STEVENS, completing her third term in office, is a moderate Democrat who understands the constituency she represents. Stevens' opponent's answers mirrors many of hers, and we do not see a reason to make a change, opting for the hard-earned experience and perspective she has gained. We are impressed at how frequently Stevens returns to Oakland County and works to make herself an active and visible participant in each of her communities. Her 'Manufacturing Mondays,' where she has regularly visited manufacturers and businesses in the district, and her auto knowledge is especially critical now as the auto industry begins its own metamorphosis. Take note of Stevens' work with women in business and efforts to engage younger women in technology and engineering, outreach to minority communities, and an appreciation that voters want improvements in Medicare and the Affordable Health Care, but do not want to be forced to lose their private insurance. You can count on Stevens to do and represent the right thing. We do not believe Stevens' work is done.


11th Congressional District – Two-year term

Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Waterford, West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Commerce, Wixom, White Lake, Walled Lake, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Keego Harbor, Lake Angelus, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Sylvan Lake, Troy, Wolverine Lake

Republican


Only one of the two Republican candidates returned our candidate questionnaire, leaving us with an inability to compare the two. However, if you as a voter are looking for a Republican who adheres to all of the current Republican talking points, from an opposition to many aspects of climate change to unfounded criticism of Democrats weaponizing the courts against Republicans, then CHARLES FRANGLE is the choice in August's primary.


6th State House District – Two-year term

Majority of Birmingham, part of Bloomfield Township, Royal Oak, Berkley and Huntington Woods

Democrat


One of the two candidates running to be the Democrat candidate in November is either ill-informed for the position, or simply doing it as a lark. That is not the case with NATALIE PRICE, who is the incumbent in this position. Price is extremely hard-working, well-informed on issues confronting the state legislature and constantly looking out for her constituents, as evidenced by her current proposed legislation to control noise on Woodward. She is not afraid to ask questions or challenge leadership if she senses a wrong, whether of the status quo or of Governor Whitmer's proposal to tap teacher retirement funds for her new education program. Price warrants an endorsement in this primary.


20th State House District – Two-year term

Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake, Keego Harbor, Commerce

Republican


Neither Republican candidate, Hermon Barbe nor Brendan Cowley, returned their candidate questionnaire after repeated requests, leaving us without the ability to provide voters with an endorsement. It is even more disappointing because this district has a long history as a swing district, truly “purple” in nature, flipping from Republican to Democrat and back over the years. Voters may want to remember their lack involvement.


Oakland County Treasurer – Four-year term

Republican


While three candidates are running to be the Republican standbearer for the general election in November for county treasurer, none of the three returned their candidate questionnaires despite numerous email and text requests. In fact, one, Donna Blake, responded it was too difficult and she had no time to finish it. We are unable to endorse any candidate for this race.


Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner – Four-year term

Democrat


The guy who is running in the Democratic race to challenge incumbent Water Resources Commissioner JIM NASH last ran for this post as a Republican four years ago. Despite changing parties, he has gained no more wisdom or knowledge to increase his qualifications for this position – especially when we have Nash who has earned a reputation for Oakland County environmental accomplishments and ongoing efforts to improve water, sewer, septics, drain, lake, aquifer and riparian needs and the impact of climate change throughout the community. He has done an excellent job, and should be Democrat's choice.


Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner – Four-year term

Republican


While two candidates are running for the Republican nod, only one returned our questionnaire. However, we are very comfortable with the answers STEVE JOHNSON provided, and believe voters will be as well. He has a good knowledge of the issues and a solid approach to how to handle them in the future. Johnson should get the party’s nod to compete in November.


Oakland County Commission – Two-year term

Part of Birmingham, part of Troy, part of Royal Oak

Democrat


The incumbent in this race, DAVE WOODWARD, has spent a lot of years in the trenches, first representing his constituents as their state representative in the state House, and since 2005, as a county commissioner. When the county board switched to Democratic leadership, his fellow board members made him the board chair, and for good reason. Woodward understands the issues of Oakland County like few others – both what needs to be done, and how to get those issues accomplished. His answers are not only thorough and in-depth, but explain the “why” and “how” of key actions, from septic testing to public transit. Woodward represents the best of elected officials – institutional wisdom.


Bloomfield Township Trustee – Four-year term

Vote for no more than four

Republican


There are five candidates running for four Bloomfield Township trustee spots on the Republican ticket. Two, NEAL BARNETT and CHRISTOPHER KOLINSKI, are incumbents who have a record of serving the residents of Bloomfield Township with integrity, passion and sound judgement. Barnett, an attorney with a background as a psychologist, has been a trustee on the township board for the last 20 years. To say he is knowledgeable is an understatement – he is the definition of institutional wisdom for Bloomfield Township, and it is imperative he remains on the board. Barnett is also a member of the township's planning and election commissions and the financial sustainability committee, an alternate for the design review board and has served on the township's zoning board. No matter who he deals with, he treats everyone with respect and the knowledge he has earned. Kolinski may have less history on the board of trustees, having been appointed in the last year to fill treasurer Michael Schostak's vacant seat on the board, but he has been chair of the township's board of review and member of the financial sustainability committee. A fireman/paramedic with Northville Township, he provides a unique perspective to public safety needs and union needs, resources and bargaining for the board. Newer resident MARGO CARGILL makes a strong case for bringing a fresh perspective to the board of trustees without any baggage or biases – but with the experience in other communities, including as a president of a chamber of commerce. We applaude her willingness to jump into a race after moving to a new community, where the requirement to run is to be a resident for 30 days. We are familiar with the other two candiates in the race who do not thoroughly understand the questions, and in one instance, is a know-it-all and if elected could perpetuate false and damaging information. We are concerned that if either is elected, the board could return to a toxic, partisan environment, which it has been blessedly free from for the last four years.


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP

Public Safety Millage Renewal


Bloomfield Township has three millages for public safety, and this one is the smallest, representing 10 percent of the total tax revenue captured for public safety – but is still critical to maintain the standards of the community for police, fire and public safety protection. The current millage does not expire until 2025, but planning ahead, township officials did not want to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a special election next year. This millage renewal is for .6474 mills for 10 years, and it would collect $4 million in its first year, with the first collection December 2026. Vote YES.


BLOOMFIELD HILLS SCHOOLS

Operating Millage Renewal


Bloomfield Hills Schools is requesting a renewal of their operating millage, which is comprised of two-parts: a renewal of the 18 mill non-homestead operating millage and a renewal of the hold harmless millage, which is currently 5.1338 mills for a period of 20 years. The current millage expires with the 2025 levy. The first year of the new operating levy would be 2026, where it is expected to raise $18.3 million. Vote YES as combined, the millage rates provide $34.3 million of operating revenue to the school district, representing 31 percent of the school district's total operating budget.

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