Michigan Voter Guide 2022: Oakland County Board of Commissioners

Get to know the candidates running for the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

WDET Voter Guide

Michigan voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, November 8, for the 2022 midterm elections. Seats on Macomb County’s Board of Commissioners are on the ballot.

Keep reading to learn the candidates’ answers to the questionnaire they received from WDET. To see what’s on your ballot, click here.

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity. This post will be updated as candidates submit their responses. Opinions are the candidates’ own.

County Commissioner – 1st District

Dave Woodward, Democrat

Did Not Respond

Oakland County Board of Commissioners candidate Chris Meister
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chris Meister

Chris Meister – Republican

Age: 65

Current job: Retired

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Central Michigan University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I have a diverse background so I can relate to others. Having owned my own business as well as worked in small, family-run companies and large corporations, I appreciate the benefits of varied niches of free-market commerce. I am also a student of history and know the threat posed by a government unrestrained by constitutional limits and free, but secure, elections. I know what it’s like to be an employee and an employer, and I also know what it’s like to be unemployed while overreaching government saps private opportunities from a community. I believe the marketplace, not politicians and bureaucrats, should determine which jobs are essential and which are not. I also understand the liberating nature of individual responsibility and seek to encourage it for others.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

I have lived in my district for 27 years. During most of that time, Oakland County was the envy of the nation for its competent, business-like management. We citizens took it for granted and our leaders were unprepared for the passing of county executive L. Brooks Patterson. In just a few short years we have seen the damage done by a government more concerned with woke virtue-signaling than responsible management of the peoples’ resources, particularly their tax dollars. County government is not supposed to be about power, it’s supposed to be about responsibility.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

First and foremost, we need to restore transparency to county government. Too much work is done behind closed doors and delegated to agencies that are not directly accountable to the people. My vote on the new county commission will join others to open the process to the light of day so the people can watch and judge our actions. We need to take immediate action in reversing county government’s intrusion into peoples’ lives. The people flourish only when they are in control of their own destiny, not when they are serfs of the state. This means reevaluating programs and eliminating those that are unnecessary, inefficient or counter-productive. By returning their tax dollars, the people become free to support the initiatives they — not the politicians — value through the free market. Through those two actions, a new Board of Commissioners will go a long way toward realizing a third priority, which is restoring responsible management to Oakland County’s government. County government needs to return to serving the people of the county, not bullying them or making them dependent.

County Commissioner – 2nd District

Penny Luebs – Democrat

Age: 68

Current job: Oakland County Commissioner, District 16, Clinical Supervisor, Easter Seals

Education: Master’s Degree in Social Work from Eastern Michigan University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

Oakland County Commissioner, Elected in 2018 and 2020, Mayor, City of Clawson, 2007-2017; Council Person, City of Clawson 2003-2007; Clawson Youth Assistance Chair; Clawson Chamber of  Commerce Board Member; Area Agency on Aging 1 B Board Member; Clawson Farmers Market Co-Organizer, 2009 to present; Boy Scout Troop 1627 Secretary; Employed at Easter Seals since 2002.

Why are you running again for the Board of Commissioners and why should voters re-elect you?

I enjoy working with and for people. My record of attendance and voting represents positive values, ethics and supporting services for people who live and work in Oakland County.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

Budget, infrastructure, health and human services are three priority issues. Our goals are where we place our money in the budget. We need a balanced budget. Roads, water and sewer systems need to be maintained. Health and human services include our safety and quality of living. Continuing programs that work to  support individuals, families, businesses and local municipalities along with identifying needs that the county is able  to provide assistance. One area of need is to develop a Senior Services office within the county to support people age 65 and older.

What are your accomplishments as commissioner?

Sponsored Oakland County Mental Health grant for Oakland Schools, which provides $175,000 to each school district in the county to address students’ mental health needs. Each district is eligible to receive another $175,000 if the district matches the second amount. Sponsored a resolution to amend the county’s non-discrimination policy to include protections for gender identity  and expression, veteran status, familial  status and marital status. Sponsored a resolution approving $1 million in emergency grant assistance for veterans, service members and eligible family members. Supported and promoted our Native Plant Initiative to provide education about cultivating native plants and the effect on the  environment. We also distribute native plants, free of charge, twice a year.  Approved funding through our Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) for repairs and improvements to roads. This includes a matching fund from our communities.

Ken Roberts, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 3rd District

Gary R. McGillivray – Democrat

Did Not Respond

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Ronald Dwyer
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ronald Dwyer

Michael Dwyer – Republican

Age: 48

Current job: Owner of RCS-JANITORIAL.com, a multi-state janitorial company; Realtor 20-plus years, insurance agent 30-plus years

Education: Associate’s Degree Oakland Community College, Insurance Degree American Institute of Insurance, Licensed Insurance Agent, Licensed Realtor

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a 30-plus year insurance agent, 20-plus year real estate agent and owner of RCS-Janitorial.com, a Michigan-based commercial janitorial company. I have lived in the City of Troy for over 27 years and lived in Oakland County for over 48 years. Oakland County is my home. In my 30-plus years as an insurance agent, I have read complex legal contracts and agreements to make sure my clients’ liability exposures are covered.  As a county commissioner reading and understanding complex agreements and contracts are important to protect the taxpayers of the county both financially and legally. I have crossed the aisle to work on issues, such as when I worked with the late Democrat State Rep. Isaac Robinson on trying to push the right insurance reform into law as we knew the one being pushed through only benefited insurance companies as well as the medical field. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the wrong bill into law. As a real estate agent, I obtained the experience to be a tough negotiator. A tough negotiator is needed to save taxpayers’ money on bid projects. As a business owner, I made tough decisions, including hiring the right people to get the job done and balancing my company books, just like I will for the county.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

I decided to run for Oakland County Commissioner based on the wasteful spending that is taking place by our commission, the non-transparency that is taking place with meetings behind closed doors, and work that is being delegated to agencies that are not directly accountable to the people. Taxpayer funds are being wasted by the commission such as $3 million to the job-killing World Economic Fund, which will likely steal jobs from Oakland County rather than create. $1.5 million of those funds would have helped our Oakland County’s Sheriff’s Department that saw its budget sliced by $1.5 million. We are in a time where police and sheriff departments need additional funding to fight the rise in crime and mass shootings, such as the Oxford High School tragedy in our own county!

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

  1. Keeping our tax dollars low to encourage population growth and business growth in our county.
  2. Protect our AAA bond rating to keep our financial outlook positive, which will keep both residential and commercial property taxes low, bring business to our county and make it cheaper for us to borrow money, if needed.
  3. Provide our Sheriff’s Department with the funds needed to hire and supply tools they need to keep our communities safe. The actions that I will take would be to not spend taxpayer dollars foolishly as what is being done at this time. Such as $3 million to the World Economic Fund and $500,000 to Planned Parenthood. Why are funds going only to so called “crisis centers” as Planned Parenthood when there are other local pregnancy crisis centers based in Oakland County? This is another question that needs to be asked.

County Commissioner – 4th District

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brendan Johnson

Brendan Johnson – Democrat

Age: 28

Current job: Chief of Staff & Legislative Director, State Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills)

Education: B.A. International Relations, Michigan State University; M.S. Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a lifelong resident of Oakland County and am proud to call the Rochester area home. I live in Rochester Hills, went to high school in Pontiac and got my first real job as the Public Events Coordinator at the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) in Royal Oak. My background and professional training is in diplomacy and national security, and I have previously worked for the U.S. State Department in Madrid and for Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. I currently work at the Michigan State House of Representatives where I am the Chief of Staff for Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills). A lover of stories, I love being in plays and musicals almost as much as I love browsing a good bookstore. I am a professional pianist and have been the music director at many Archdiocese of Detroit parishes, most recently Sacred Heart in Auburn Hills. I also am a strong supporter of Detroit City FC and all species of bees.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

I am running for county commission to represent my hometown with a new generation of progressive, pragmatic politics that puts people first. I love where I grew up, think it’s a great place to live, and I have the experience and know-how to help it continue to be so. I would be the youngest member and only openly LGBT member of the commission: two voices that are sorely needed in elected chambers.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

  1. The first is applying lessons learned from COVID-19 into the post-pandemic world. We learned a lot about where our county health vulnerabilities are and where we do a better job administering holistic health care (from mental to physical to reproductive) from Holly to Ferndale to Novi.
  2. The second is making sure our economy continues to thrive. This means assuring not only that students at Oakland University are prepared for the challenges of the world ahead, but how can the county leverage programs like Michigan Works! to help transition, say, an internal combustion engineer at Stellantis to the world of electric vehicles.
  3. Third, I am committed to ending the duplicative and patchy-at-best status quo of public transportation in Metro Detroit. With the Auburn Hills City Council voting to opt out of SMART, I am committed especially to finding a county level solution in conjunction with Wayne and Washtenaw. We must end the opt-out model and cumbersome multi-system administrative environment. Having spent significant time in cities with good transportation systems, I know what is possible here, and I am committed to fulfilling it.

Oakland County Board of Commissioners candidate Kevin McDaniel
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kevin McDaniel

Kevin R. McDaniel, Republican

Age: 43

Current job: Biotech Contracts and Reimbursement Lead

Education: Bachelor of Science in Business, Oakland University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a fourth-generation lifelong resident of Oakland County’s District 4, which serves the communities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills. I have served on my City Council for 14 years, the last eight as mayor. I began my service to the community in 2003 as a police officer. I am also a past recipient of Oakland County’s Elite 40 Under 40 Award. My wife, Erika, and I have two children, Addison (12) and Kailer (10). I am a graduate of Avondale High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in information technology from Oakland University, which is also located in District 4. In addition to serving the community, I am an executive for a leading global biotech company, where I am responsible for managing cost-saving strategies that increase patient access to life-altering biologics while reducing financial burden.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

I am running to ensure that the county anchors itself in fiscal responsibility, supporting our local businesses and keeping our residents safe.

What are the top 3 priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

As District 4’s commissioner, I will bring my leadership experience of six years as a city council member and eight years as mayor to the county commission. As I have achieved with my city council colleagues, I am committed to collaborating with the entire Board of Commissioners on sound fiscal policies and ensuring positive results on the following priorities:

  1. Maintaining our hometown values — common-sense decisions need to be made locally from input from the people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
  2. Resources for our Sheriff’s Department — ensuring our deputies have the tools and training to keep our communities safe and that the safety of our children is paramount.
  3. Fiscally conservative — we need to return the county to responsible spending and good government, prioritizing and refocusing on everyone within our community, and not special interest groups.

County Commissioner – 5th District

Justin Willcock – Democrat

Did Not Respond

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Michael Spisz
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michael Spisz

Michael Spisz – Republican

Age: 51

Current job: Executive Director of Engineering

Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Business Administration – Global Specialty

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I have been married to my wife, Michelle, for 22 years and we have two daughters and a dog. We have lived in Oxford for 20 years and both of our daughters attended and played sports for Oxford Schools, graduating in 2020 and 2022. Our summers have been full of travel softball for the last eight years and will soon transition to college sports. I have been in the auto industry for over 30 years and during the day I continue to work for a tier 1 automotive supplier as an executive global director of engineering, where I manage programs and resources in multiple countries around the world. Politics was a growing passion of mine starting in my college years. In 2008, I ran for the Oxford Township Board of Trustees and was elected to a four-year term and then transitioned into the county commissioner role in 2012. I have been appointed to Oxford Township Planning Commission since 2014.

Why are you running again for the Board of Commissioners and why should voters re-elect you?

With politics being a passion of mine, I want to continue to serve the community I love. I have lived in Oakland County for most of my life and I want to continue to make sure the county remains one of the best counties in the country. I bring many different benefits and aspects to the Board of Commissioners from my career as an engineer and management roles. I make decisions based on facts and data, not emotions. I have shown the willingness to work across the aisle and stand up to issues that would not benefit our community. I am a fiscal conservative and will always work to find ways to save the county and our taxpayers’ money. Your money is best to be in your pocket versus the governments. I also work with the communities I serve to make sure they are current on county activities along with ways to support their needs. I support the entire county and will continue to work with communities outside of my district as I represent the entire county.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

  1. Budget. We must continue to maintain Oakland County’s financial position and AAA bond rating. With ensuing inflation we must maintain our multiyear balanced budget and continue to find ways to save cost within government.
  2. ARPA funding must be considered and used effectively and efficiently to ensure we are not creating long-term programs that funding will no longer be available. We must also use these funds to support our local businesses and continue to bring employers to Oakland County. I will continue to work to find alternatives and inventive ways to continue to entice employers into our area.
  3. Public safety. We must continue to support our Sheriff’s office and all local law enforcement. With the social climate, mass shootings, threats and overall anger in our communities we cannot afford to reduce funding of our law enforcement agencies. We must work together to find new ways and programs to support them and our citizens, including crisis intervention training (CIT).

What are your accomplishments as commissioner?

  • Secured $10M in funding for a new sewer project in northwest Oakland County that will reduce the need of septic fields.
  • Gained approval from the BOC for $500,000 to support co-pays to Oxford School district for mental health support after the Nov. 30, 2021 incident.
  • Gained approval for additional resources for Prosecutor and Sheriff’s office for ongoing support to investigate threats throughout Oakland County after the Nov. 30 incident.
  • Supported funding for additional mental health support in all of Oakland County Schools.
  • Gun Violence team member in 2013 after Sandy Hook tragedy, and unfortunately is still relevant today.
  • Member of the County team supporting Businesses and distributing of monies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Annual Bi-party and tri-party road improvement programs for all communities in Oakland County.
  • Funding for feasibility study for training and dispatch facility in Oakland County Sheriff and Homeland Security teams.
  • Member of County pandemic response team during initial phase of COVID -19 pandemic.
  • Re-established the Human Trafficking Task Force in 2016 to increase communication of all organizations working to stop these terrible acts. Was invited to the White House to represent Oakland County at the Summit on Human Trafficking in 2020.
  • Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman, 2014-2018.
  • Multiple Committee Chairmanships.
  • Minority Caucus Chair, 2021 to present.

County Commissioner – 6th District

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Sarah Pounds
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Pounds

Sarah B. Pounds – Democrat

Age: 39 years old

Current job: I am a Precinct Delegate for Orion Township’s 6th Precinct. As a Precinct Delegate, I get to work closely with voters in my precinct, understand the issues that are most important to them, and keep them updated with important voting and candidate information. I am also a mom to four young daughters.

Education: I graduated from Clarkston High School here in northern Oakland County. I attended Oakland University, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in history and then my paralegal certificate. For 15 years, I worked as a paralegal, specializing in construction and surety law.

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a lifelong Oakland County resident and live in Orion Township with my husband and four children. I felt the call to serve my community in 2016. Like so many others, I felt that my voice was not being heard in local, state and especially federal government. I committed myself to working to get better candidates elected within my community. In 2020, I was elected as a precinct delegate in Orion Township’s 6th Precinct and that work has reinforced my belief that local government is where it’s at — local government is where one can effect the most change in one’s community. I am committed to be a part of that change. I am committed to ensure Oakland County is prepared for the future, by investing in our small businesses, public education, including school safety, our great colleges and universities, and protecting our beautiful parks and natural spaces.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

I believe that county government is where I can affect the most change in my community. The county commission has a direct impact on our daily lives, from the public schools that our children attend to the roads that we drive on every day. I know that the county would benefit from my experience and perspective of a mom with four children who attend or will attend Lake Orion Community Schools, a precinct delegate who has been on the ground with voters in my community for years and understands the issues that are most important to them.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?  

We must prioritize public education.

Oakland County has some of the best public schools in the nation. I believe that these schools are the heart of our communities and by investing in public education, we are investing in our future. Not only do schools help to build well-educated citizens who are ready to meet the future challenges of our community, but schools are also a source of employment for residents and we know that school performance directly impact property values, making public schools a monetary investment for all residents. But many in our government have forgotten this. For far too long, public education has been defunded, resulting in larger class sizes and teacher shortages. Our students and educators deserve better. It is time to start investing in public education again. I will always support initiatives that focus on hiring and retaining the very best educators, investing in technology, providing our students with the mental health care that they need and deserve and school safety measures that will provide our children with a safe environment in which to learn.

We must protect our parks and natural spaces.

Our natural spaces, including parks, trails, inland lakes and recreation areas, have always made Oakland County the best place to live and work. We gained even more appreciation for our parks and recreation areas during the pandemic, when they became a safe place to gather together and experience the sense of community that we all needed. Our natural environment became even more essential for our mental and emotional health. I will always support initiatives that protect and beautify our natural environment, and make parks and recreation areas safer, more accessible and inclusive for all residents.

We must support small businesses

Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. I have personally witnessed the benefits of supporting and investing in small businesses in my own community, specifically in downtown Lake Orion and along the Baldwin Corridor, and the positive effects that investment had on our community at large. When my family moved to Lake Orion 10 years ago, there was not a lot happening in downtown Lake Orion and Baldwin Road was a ghost town. Through years of thoughtful investment and infrastructure, including the massive Baldwin Corridor Revitalization Project, Lake Orion now boasts some of the best restaurants, shops and businesses in Oakland County. People now come from neighboring communities to dine, shop and conduct business. We are proud of our vibrant downtown and know that progressive investment and support of our local small businesses have contributed to the overall success of our community. But supporting small businesses does not end there. Businesses have been further tested in the years since the pandemic and many are still struggling to recover due to global material shortages, supply chain issues and employee shortages. Their future success will depend on detailed recovery plans that address these challenges.

I am committed to providing continued support for Oakland County’s small businesses, especially as they recover from the pandemic, and understand that the success of our small businesses directly impacts the success of our communities.

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Michael Gingell
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michael Gingell

Michael J. Gingell – Republican

Age: 50

Current job: Chief Operating Officer, FordDirect

Education: Bachelor of Science, Oakland University; Master of Business Administration, Wayne State University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a lifelong resident of Oakland County and a direct descendent of the Gingellville founders (Gingellville was founded in 1836 and is part of Orion Township). I live in Orion township with my wife, Jessica, and our six kids.

Why are you running again for the Board of Commissioners and why should voters re-elect you?

I am running for re-election in order to continue to serve the community and help others. I bring political relationships and experience that other candidates do not have. I also bring 25 years of experience in the private sector experience in the information business holding various global leadership roles. I know how to work in a bipartisan manner and I know how to get things done.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

My top priority is to embed financial responsibility and accountability in county spending and the voice of  common sense in policy decisions. We need to provide services that are needed with a focus on public safety. We need to support economic development and our business community to maintain our tax base and demand for housing.

What are your accomplishments as commissioner? Throughout my time as commissioner I have accomplished a number of things including: Financial responsibility and accountability by delivering balanced budgets, living within our means and being recognized by Standard and Poor’s as one of the best run counties in the nation. Expanding parks and providing access to more residents through investments in Normandy Oaks, Catalpa Oaks and Independence Oaks. Providing leadership in trying times such as the 2008 great recession and foreclosure crisis, establishing the Great Lakes Water Authority to protect access to water as well as preserving the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Zoo. All while maintaining or lowering the tax rate.

County Commissioner – 7th District

Oakland County Board of Commissioners candidate Kristin Watt
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kristin Watt

Kristin Watt, Democrat

Age: 40

Current job: Owner of Thoughtful Threads in Holly

Education: Macomb Community College

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am passionate about people with a heart for advocacy work and public service. I have spent most of my career and personal time working with individuals to create productive results in their lives and communities. I am currently an elected precinct delegate, trustee on the Holly Township Library Board, community volunteer,  and co-founder of Holly ACTS, a community action network. I am a wife and mother of two amazing daughters and work within my community on various endeavors to ensure local government works for everyone and that those who are often overlooked have a voice.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

At this time in our country, as families are struggling to recover from the pandemic and costs continue to rise, I believe working families, seniors on fixed incomes, veterans, and those with disabilities require the resources necessary to thrive. Mental health resources are needed more than ever and protecting our beautiful environment in north Oakland County are paramount. Our small businesses are suffering and financial resources are limited. I believe our tax dollars need to work for us first. It has been 24 years since we have had a woman represent this district. We need a fresh voice, fresh perspective, and every day people need a unifying advocate to ensure those who are struggling, despite their best efforts, have their needs boldly heard and addressed.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them? 

  1. Economic recovery for families and small businesses — I would find ways to trim waste in the budget and reallocate those funds to programs that assist families in need as they recover. I would look for ways to invest in programs that assist small business startups and further the cause of assisting businesses already in existence.
  2. Mental health resources and easier accessibility — The Board of County Commissioners just passed a huge investment with matching grants for Oakland County Schools to provide grants to increase mental health professionals and increased accessibility in our schools. This is a huge first step, but the funds are not permanent. I would like to speak with industry leaders in the field on how we as a county can build on this investment to ensure every member of our county can access therapies and treatment.
  3. Infrastructure — We continue to need our roads repaired, water and sewer updated, and make sure we are protecting our environment while doing so. I would build upon what has already been done and find ways to trim waste and seek any available grants and federal dollars available to assist in these efforts.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman, Republican

Age: 71

Current job: OC Commissioner, Contractor & Farmer

Education: 2yrs College

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

Born in Pontiac & raised in Waterford. I grew up at the best time, in the best place with the best parents. Our parents gave us everything we needed, anything we wanted we had to get a job. They taught us the promise of America, that if you have an idea, you are willing to work hard, maybe with a little luck you will accomplish all you set out to do. I started my first business when I was 19, my second when I was 23 and 30yrs ago I bought a farm. The United States is the last best hope for those who seek freedom.

Why are you running for Oakland County Board of Commissioner?

I am running for re-election because this is a position where you can actually help people. We are the conduit between residents and other levels of government. I represent my district first and Oakland County 2nd. I guide my life by a quote from the Dalai Lama “our sole purpose in life should be to help others, and if you can’t help them at least don’t hurt them.”

What are the top 3 priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

There are two main issues. A transit tax proposal that the democrat majority voted to put on the November 8th ballot is our most immediate pressing issue. I support transit: however, this tax increase is bad government on steroids. This tax came to the Commission 4 days before the democrat chair called a special Board Meeting for Tuesday, August 10th at 4:30pm. Our regular meetings are usually Wednesday or Thursday @ 6pm when more of the public can attend. Smart Bus System currently collects 33/M/yr. This tax to replace that millage will bring in 66M the 1st year. We are told this is a 10yr tax. There is no such thing, this tax will last an eternity. The most egregious thing about this proposal is there is NO PLAN. There is NO opt out. This tax will hurt the working poor the most. It is a tax on all classes of property. It takes away local control. This tax will add to inflation, increase the cost of goods sold and increase rents. This tax will take approximately 3M out of my district the 1st year with no benefit to my district. I support less taxes and regulations. I am an advocate for property taxes to be properly assessed. Much of Oakland is over assessed. I have worked with many residents to help them appeal their taxes and I will continue to do so. 

What actions/decisions by the current board of commissioners have you disagreed with and how would you do things differently?

I opposed the transit tax (as stated above) this is a tax grab without a plan. The democrat majority also eliminated Columbus Day because Columbus supported slavery and enslaved Indians. Columbus Day was traded for Indigenous People Day. I pointed out that the 5 largest Indian nations owned black & Indian slaves, traded in slaves, owned plantations and supported the South during the Civil War. Columbus and the Indians should both be recognized for their contributions to world history. What the democrat majority has given us a lesson in hypocrisy.

County Commissioner – 8th District

Thomas J. Kurzyniec, Democrat

Did Not Respond

Karen Joliat, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 9th District

Angela Powell, Democrat

Did Not Respond

Gjyste Nuculaj, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 10th District

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Kristen Nelson
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kristen Nelson

Kristen Nelson, Democrat

Age: 39

Current job: Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Education: I earned a Master of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Wayne State University, and I completed board certification (behavior analyst) from Florida Institute of Technology.

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I’m a lifelong Oakland County resident, born and raised in the District I represent. As a sitting member of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners since 2018, I currently serve as the Majority Caucus Chair, Chair of the Legislative Affairs and Government Operations Committee, Chair of the Healthy Aging Ad Hoc Committee, and I am a member of the Public Health and Safety Committee. After 18 years of working in public education, I currently work full time as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst working with individuals on the autism spectrum.

Why are you running again for county commission and why should voters re-elect you?

As an energetic leader, passionate problem solver and forward thinker, I am running for re-election to further pursue my commitment in representing the diverse voices in District 10 while advocating for solutions to the issues they care most about. Working hands-on as a special education teacher and a behavior analyst have instilled the values of persistence, compassion and problem solving, and I will continue to put that spirit to work for constituents. I know first-hand that seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome when individuals have access to the appropriate resources, services and supports.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them? 

  • Public health and safety. The health and safety of our communities depends on the health of the people who make up our communities. I will continue to support Oakland County’s collaborative efforts in providing equitable access to affordable mental health and behavioral health services and treatment to individuals across Oakland County.
  • Community economic development. Our ability to thrive as a county through changing social and economic times depends on creating good policies that support affordable housing, public transportation, job opportunities and support for small businesses.
  • Environmental justice. Supporting policies that protect our drinking water and recreational waterways, preserving community green spaces, parks, and enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities. Everyone deserves access to clean and safe water, land, air and inclusive outdoor activities.

What are your accomplishments as commissioner?

With the support of my colleagues, I am most proud of the following accomplishments:

  • Established a program to increase marine safety patrols on Oakland County lakes during the 2022 boating season
  • Created a new policy requiring Oakland County restaurant inspection reports to be available in a searchable and easily accessible online database
  • Published Oakland County’s Blueprint for Successful Aging, in partnership with AAA1B, which identifies strategies for creating age-friendly communities while identifying unmet needs and gaps in current services
  • Founded the Native Plant Initiative that provided residents with native plant kits to restore damage caused by invasive and non-native plant species while promoting the benefits of native gardens
  • Created Oakland Together Lifeline Program that provided residents in selected senior living facilities Amazon Echo Show devices (and training) to stay connected with family and friends throughout the pandemic
  • Launched the Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose Program, featuring two solar powered mobile boat cleaning stations to empower water enthusiasts to be active participants in the fight to protect our lakes and waterways from the spread and introduction of aquatic invasive species

Vincent F. Sitto, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 11th District

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Marcia Gershenson
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marcia Gershenson

Marcia Gershenson, Democrat

Education: Graduate University of Michigan 1971

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a native Michigander, married and graduate of the University of Michigan. I have a teaching credential and am the incumbent county commissioner in the newly formed 11th Commission district. I am an honest, hardworking commissioner that prioritizes the concerns of my constituents. I am very responsive to residents and value our interactions. The recovery of our economy from the pandemic is my priority. During these unprecedented times, experience navigating our local resources has been vitally important. I am a strong advocate for responsible gun ownership and storage, and increasing mental health services throughout the County. I have worked on initiatives to increase the number of childcare workers and offer more affordable housing to our community members. I am extremely supportive of our county’s efforts to grow our region’s talent pipeline through our Oakland80 commitment. This program will embed education navigators in our local secondary intuitions to assist residents to attain post secondary or certification. In addition, I stay in touch with local units of government to try and assist them to help all residents.

Why are you running again for county commission and why should voters re-elect you?

I am seeking re-election to continue the projects I have been working on over my last term. The pandemic identified many areas to county officials that needed more attention. Making health care more accessible by establishing a community health care model and partnering with many local health care facilities is a priority. My experience and knowledge of county government has helped me guide residents through the process of receiving benefits during the pandemic. Voters should re-elect me because I am sensitive to all issues that concern the well being of every resident and will fight for our county’s recovery. As vice chair of the commission I am committed to working across party lines to offer the best programs to all our residents.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them? 

My three top priorities for my next term are to continue efforts to help the local economy recover, increase access to mental health services and offer more options to allow seniors to age in place. I have voted to distribute funds to help many of our small businesses and restaurants. I have worked to allocate federal dollars to nonprofits and local businesses to strengthen their budgets. Commissioners have allocated significant resources for mental health resources to students and their parents and all community members. We have worked closely and will continue to work with our mental health agencies to develop new programs that reflect our changing environment. I have been working with many senior-focused nonprofits to better understand the needs of our aging population. Seniors are a critical part of the financial blueprint of our county and I am committed to listen and learn the priorities that are important to strengthen access to programs for this demographic. I have participated in committees to understand and address seniors’ needs and will continue to advocate for those needs.

What are your accomplishments as commissioner?

Some of my proudest accomplishments are bringing more money to provide more mental health services to all residents. I have voted to bring breakfast programs to all students. During the pandemic, I actively worked to distribute over $200 million federal dollars to help local businesses recover. I am in the process now of administering assistance through the American recovery funds to schools, nonprofits, residents and businesses. I have a history of working on bipartisan programs to increase gun safety awareness. As a former school teacher, I am well aware of the challenges our teachers and child care educators face every day. I have introduced programs to help make child care more affordable to everyone. I am currently working on efforts to increase the salaries of child care and home care workers. My greatest accomplishment has been to work with the community and our Executive Branch and staff to implement new programs that are relevant for success in today’s world.

S. Dave Sullivan, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 12th District

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Mike Smith
Photo Credit: Natalie Smith

Mike Smith, Democrat

Age: 41

Current job: Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Berkley

Education: Graduated from Walled Lake Central High School (1999), Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Leadership & Diversity from Grand Valley State University (2003), Master of Public Administration from Oakland University (2008), Post-Masters Certificate in Local Government Management from Oakland University (2011)

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a lifelong resident of White Lake Township. Married with two elementary school-aged children. Currently, I am employed in the public sector while also running a small woodworking business. I have been a proud public servant for the past 18 years where I have worked for Oakland County, the City of Clawson, the Village of Wolverine Lake, and currently at the City of Berkley in many roles such as city clerk, city manager and village administrator. I stepped up in the past and served as an elected Walled Lake School Board Member from 2010-2013.  I pride myself on being transparent, honest, dedicated, and leading with integrity and honor. I commit myself to any challenge and will jump in wherever there is a need to get something accomplished. I am forever indebted to the service that others before me have shown and done for these communities and it is my turn to give back and serve all of the residents, business owners, and constituents in this District. I will be steadfast in living up to the duty of an elected official, by being the voice for the voiceless and doing what is right and just for all citizens.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners?

With my experience as mentioned above, I saw a need for a new voice on the board — bringing my local government management experience in the public sector to the County Commission. I know how to leverage the talents and expertise of subject matter experts and work with them to come up with positive solutions. I am rooted in this District where I have not only lived in but have also worked here and served as the past Village Administrator of Wolverine Lake. I am a volunteer for my kid’s elementary school and on the weekend you can see me hanging out at the local soccer field at Dodge Park or helping with my son’s baseball team at Hickory Glen in Commerce Township. This is my home and I want to give back to my community and fight to be their voice.  I know what it takes to do the work and I will bring a new voice and expertise to this Board for District 12 to serve my community and makes things better for the future.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?


• Retraining the workforce to respond to emerging job sectors

• Creating incentives to bring new businesses to Michigan

• Protecting business owners who were affected by the pandemic

• Supporting local municipalities with economic development

• Maintaining the AAA bond rating for the county

• Reinvesting in our urban centers

Health and wellness

• Establishing mental health funding for residents and schools

• Fighting for women’s rights and LGBTQ+ members

• Partnerships with businesses, colleges and trade schools

• Helping residents to attain affordable housing

• Educate residents on the resources the county offers

• Better access to health care for veterans and those in need


• Addressing our roads and infrastructure needs

• Addressing our need for safer water for residents

• Developing better practices for maintenance and construction

• Developing a more robust regional transportation system

• Conserving and protecting open spaces, parks, water

Christine A. Long, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 13th District

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jim Williams

Jim Williams, Democrat

Age: 76

Current job: Retiree, active Michigan artist LLC

Education: B.A., WSU

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a native Detroiter and a 50-year Highland resident. I am a retired state youth services caseworker and have been a small business artist for 45 years. Over the years I have also been a substitute teacher, a certified state transporter, a youth art instructor at inner city outreach programs, and a Meals on Wheels driver. Oakland County and the wider area face many issues: climate change, jobs, lake and water concerns, broadband, infrastructure, mental health and quality of life. And now sadly we must to be concerned about the safety of our families. This and the environmental concerns facing us require a creative and progressive vision. I want Oakland County to set the standard for the present and future in all these areas. On a personal note I was raised in a home with many uncertainties yet I knew I was fortunate to be living at a time in America with many possibilities. My work has allowed me to engage people with hard core needs. I hope to be part of the solution to life quality issues in District 13. I am a member of Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, HVCA, and contributor to many charitable needs.

Why are you running for county commission?

Mainly to be the environmental candidate in the support of plans to make Oakland County set a standard as a carbon-free community.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

 Climate change related issues. I will propose and vote for steps that make us carbon free. Mental health services. I will seek to improve the delivery and availability of these community based services. Water and development. I will review policy and proposals with an environmental benefit perspective including LEED and EGLE standards.


Oakland County Board of Commissioners Phil Weipert
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Phil Weipert

Phil Weipert, Republican

Age: 62

Current job: Practicing Attorney-Owner Law Office of Philip J. Weipert and Oakland County Commissioner

Education: Juris Doctor 1988 Thomas M. Cooley Law School, BA 1983 University of Michigan-Dearborn, 1983, Detroit Catholic Central 1978

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

Married to Pam and 30-plus year resident South Lyon; Past Chair-SEMCOG and current delegate to SEMCOG. Member Milford, Highland, Wixom & South Lyon Historical Societies, Highland White Lake Business Owners Assoc.; Kensington Valley/S. Lyon, Huron Valley & Lakes Area Chambers. Secretary-Kiwanis; 2016 & 2005 Chamber Citizen of the Year, Finance Council-St. Joseph Catholic Church, Deputy Grand Knight K of C Council 7586 & Past Secretary K of C Assembly 3099 Milford-monthly Flag replacement on Veterans Graves; Member-Lyon (Twp.) Events Org. L.E.O./Kitefest; Operation Injured Soldiers; Huron River Watershed Council; Milford Memories & War Dog Memorial

Why are you running again for the Board of Commissioners and why should voters re-elect you?

I have been a commissioner 10-plus years and truly enjoy public service, giving back to the community and I want to keep Oakland County one of the best places to live, work, play and prosper.  I am committed to serving the district, keeping taxes low, improving roads and infrastructure and preserving property values.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

Economy, fiscal responsibility in the aftermath of the pandemic, roads and Infrastructure. As county commissioner, I voted for our local road improvement and our Tri-Party Road Programs making millions of dollars available to improve local roads. I will continue to promote Small Business Stabilization grants & programs to keep small businesses open and continue the work-force development programs that attract and stimulate quality jobs and employment opportunities. I have experience with all aspects of county operations and I have demonstrated the ability to work with all county departments to continue the programs that provide quality services to residents, and will insure that all tax dollars are spent in a fiscally conservative manner.

What are your accomplishments as commissioner?

I have worked on and passed a balanced three-year budget, which has ensured that Oakland County has a AAA bond rating saving the residents millions in interest costs. I voted to lower the tax rate every year since 2011 — protecting property values while maintaining quality services. I participated in overseeing the distribution of tens of millions of COVID-19 relief dollars to small businesses, veterans, nonprofits, nursing homes and other groups, helping many of them navigate through and survive the pandemic. I will ensure that all tax dollars — particularly the county’s $247 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds are spent/invested as intended, wisely and costs are contained.

County Commissioner – 14th District

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ajay Raman

Ajay V. Raman, Democrat

Age: 46
Current job: Physician Anesthesiologist & Owner of a Novi-based Medical Practice
Education: Anesthesiology Residency – Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL)Medical School – Midwestern University (Downers Grove, IL)B.S. in Health Science – Benedictine University (Lisle, IL)Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.
My name is Dr. Ajay Raman and I have been an Oakland County resident since 2011, where I live with my wife and 2 wonderful children.  I am a physician anesthesiologist by training and own a successful local medical practice for the last decade. I have been a problem-solver all my life and this role has given me the opportunity to interact with a diversity of people and come up with solutions both medically and in the business world. In my free time I enjoy biking, relaxing with family and friends, or grabbing a bite at one of the many incredible restaurants in the area.  Aside from my family and career, I have been re-elected for the past 7 years to serve as the Vice-President/Treasurer of the largest homeowners’ association in Novi and enjoy working on environmental projects (Adopt-a-Road, Garlic Mustard Pull, etc.) with several local community groups. I also completed the Novi Ambassador Academy which was an immersive experience learning about our local government and networking with area leaders to better understand the fundamentals of city operations.  Those who know me often describe me as genuine, personable, and hardworking and I am committed to giving my 100% to everything I do.
Why are you running for county commission?
I am not a career politician but rather a physician of almost 20 years with a long-standing track record of public service.  Like many of you, I am tired of the ugly divisiveness that we have seen in our country and our government over the last several years.  I want to be a part of the solution moving forward to bring our community back together.
Attesting to my commitment to make a difference, I ran for Novi City Mayor in 2021 where I came within just a few percentage points of beating a long-time favored incumbent.  The overwhelming, continued support from both residents and elected officials alike, motivate me to remain passionate and focused on the priorities that resonate with so many in the community, and why I believe I can make a positive impact as Oakland County Commissioner in the 14th district.  I am proud to say that I am endorsed by over two dozen organizations and elected leaders including Attorney General Dana Nessel, Oakland County Executive David Coulter, Oakland County Commissioner David Woodward, and Oakland County Treasurer Robert Wittenberg to name just a few.
What are the top 3 priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?
Oakland County has a very notable AAA-bond rating, showcasing our economic security and stability.  My goal is to help preserve this achievement by maintaining fiscal responsibility while smartly focusing on the following priorities:
1) Public Safety: I believe in supporting our first responders who put their lives on the line everyday for the welfare of our cities.  We have a responsibility to ensure that we, as a community do everything we can to provide them with the needed resources to keep everyone safe.  2) Infrastructure: Our infrastructure is the bedrock of our community, affecting everything from our residents’ quality of life to our economy. Maintaining our infrastructure is critical to securing our community’s future by ensuring we can meet the demands of residents and local businesses. Whether we’re fixing our roads, protecting our waterways by keeping our septic and sewer systems updated, or adding new walking paths, we’re investing in our community’s ability to provide the amenities and lifestyle we all appreciate.  3) Mental Health Advocacy:   Both the pandemic and recent local & national headlines have put a spotlight on the need for good mental health resources for everyone.  As a healthcare provider myself, I would advocate for proactive measures to address this major concern.  We need to break the recurring cycle of tragedy in this country and even closer to home in Oakland County. Much like physical healthcare, I believe mental healthcare should be a right which not only helps at an individual level but also ensures a healthier, safer community overall.
What actions/decisions by the incumbent have you disagreed with and how would you do things differently?
The Oakland County Commission, 14th district, (comprised of Novi, Wixom, Walled Lake, and a portion of Commerce Township) is a newly created district with no incumbent.  However, if given the opportunity to serve, I will bring accountability to the position and restore trust to bridge divides in the community and in local government.  Thank you and I look forward to earning your vote on November 8th!
Oakland County Board of Commissioners candidate Robert Smiley
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Robert Smiley

Robert Smiley, Republican

Age: 53

Current job: Designer/Illustrator and Wixom City Councilman

Education: College for Creative Studies (formerly Center for Creative Studies) Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, 1992 – Graphic Communications

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

Rob is a husband and father of three amazing boys. Family is what ultimately fuels Rob’s passion to maintain and improve his community. He’s been active in the community for many years, providing his abilities as a designer, football coach, and councilman. Rob believes local government should exist to be fiscally responsible, ensure security for its citizens while protecting their rights, and being accessible and transparent.

Why are you running for the Board of Commissioners? 

City Councilman Robert Smiley is running to be the next county commissioner in the new 14th District, serving portions of Commerce and Novi, as well as all of Walled Lake and Wixom. With the economy and jobs in the delicate state that they are in, it is more important than ever to elect leaders who will serve our community by enacting policies and laws that enable individuals, businesses and communities to prosper.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

Priorities — As a two-term city councilman, Rob knows how to keep the county functioning and within budget. He will work with cities, townships and villages to make sure they have the services they require and to ensure policies benefit our residents. Rob successfully worked to lower local tax rates in Wixom as well as for balanced budgets each year. He has been a consistent voice for wise spending of our tax dollars and living within our means.

Public Safety — Oakland Democrats are asking Sheriff Bouchard to cut his budget by $1.5 million after cutting it $1.5 million last year. These dollars were not cut to balance the budget or to provide tax relief to residents, but rather to pay for unnecessary projects. As a city councilman, public safety has always been Rob’s top priority. Rob has learned to maximize funding with limited and fluctuating budgets.

Sustainability — It is important to be good stewards of our planet, but the “Green New Deal” plan for Oakland County is filled with expensive and unproven objectives that will do more harm than good to Oakland County. Our economy can’t afford this overregulation.

County Commissioner – 15th District

Oakland County Commission Gwen Markham
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gwen Markham

Gwen Markham, Democrat

Age: 68

Current Job: Oakland County Commissioner

Education: BS Chemistry, Western Michigan University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a retired manufacturing operations executive with experience in Aerospace and Automotive operations. I have served my community of Novi as a long-time volunteer on the Planning Commission as well as with several local nonprofit groups. In 2013 I became a member of the Novi City Council, and was re-elected in 2017. I was elected to the County Commission in 2018, re-elected in 2020. I serve as Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners Finance Committee. At the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, I currently serve as SEMCOG Vice Chair as well as a member of the Management and Budget subcommittee.

Why are you running again for the Board of Commissioners and why should voters re-elect you?

 In local government, one has the opportunity to work with people on local issues that affect us all. At the county level, the work we do has real effects right here where we live. I find it satisfying to solve problems for constituents. I believe in regional cooperation among municipalities and counties, because our problems are often the same and overlap across jurisdictions.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them? 

We need to address the affordable housing situation. Young people and others struggle to find affordable homes and apartments. There are several options to address this issue, at the individual level, at the community level, and with local developers.  Public transit needs to become a reality across the region. I hear from people almost every day who need public transit for jobs, education, etc. Transit must include all communities. No local municipality is an island – workers, shoppers, others travel across community boundaries every day. Addressing climate change in our county is key. We are starting by evaluating all county buildings and operations for efficiencies, alternative energy sources, building utilizations, and fleet operations. Support for innovative solutions such as the Pontiac Waste Water Treatment plant where we turn sewage into methane which is captured and turned into energy or sold, is where we should focus our attention.

What are your accomplishments as commissioner? 

Most of my time on the commission is spent in oversight and planning for Oakland County’s $1 Billion budget each year. Working with the Executive branch, our current budget is structurally balanced, and includes a 25% Rainy Day Fund and a 5% Emergency Fund. It carries a AAA rating from the bonding agencies. My other priority of Environmental stewardship has led me to be part of projects on native plant promotion, invasive species eradication and water quality initiatives.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michelle DiNardo

Michelle DiNardo, Republican

Age: 54

Current job: Self Employed/Financial Advisor

Education: BS from Indiana University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

Single mother of two children (ages 14 and 18), I’ve been a financial advisor for over 29 years, long-time Special Olympics Volunteer and Precinct Delegate. Previous: member of the Oakland County Executive Republican Committee, member and Secretary of the 14th District Executive Republican Committee, member, and Treasurer of the Greater West Bloomfield Republican Club.

Why are you running for Oakland County Board of Commissioners?

I’m tired of our hard-earned tax paying dollars being wasted. We need to use our dollars to benefit Oakland County residents ONLY! And I will work to reduce our taxes, not increase them. Residents are having a hard time putting food on their tables and gas in our cars. Our money needs to be spent on us, the residents!

What are the top 3 priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

Oakland County taxpayers cannot accept continuously higher tax rates! I would fight to lower tax rates which would offset the inflationary costs of gas, food, and energy.

Our tax dollars need to benefit our residents, not handed over to foreign entities such as THE WORLD

ECONOMIC FORUM (WEF). I would disapprove and fight the board’s recent approval to give the WEF $3 million of our tax dollars.

We must keep our schools open without forced mask or vaccine mandates. I would disapprove and fight any vote on forcing our children to get an unproven vaccine with numerous side effects and making them wear a mask which does more harm than good. Kids basically have a 0% chance of dying from Covid. They need to stay in school where the benefits of being in school tremendously outweigh any Covid risks.

We must fight to secure our borders. Michigan state 2022 assessment scores show in all subjects (reading, math, science, and social studies) continue to trend lower. Over 58% of our third graders failed this test. And this is across all grades. Our test scores are low. Adding illegal immigrants into our schools, who do not speak English, will make this problem even more prevalent. We need to fight to secure our border and look out for Oakland County residents and put our children first!

What actions/decisions by the current board of commissioners have you disagreed with and how would you do things differently?

I totally disagree with giving money to the WEF and rushing through a huge tax increase for Mass Transit which they don’t even have a plan for. Our current unviable Mass Transport System (which has already proven to be inefficient and extremely costly) should not be expanded during this inflationary time. The Board, including neighboring city leaders, needs to explore previous examples in other cities for efficient and successful systems.

County Commissioner – 16th District

William Miller, Democrat

Did Not Respond

Michael F. Mrozovich, Republican

Age: 67

Current job: Retired

Education: BSME WMU

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

My wife and I have lived in Farmington for almost 30
years, I just retired from a career in manufacturing engineering. Designing, purchasing and
installing large manufacturing systems in powertrain for major automotive is where I’ve spent
the bulk of my time. We raised our three sons here and are now looking forward to retirement.
However, I thought the skills honed over 40 years in manufacturing would help making sound
decisions in country government.

Why are you running for Oakland County Board of Commissioners?

When I was a little boy, our president said, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your
country.” Excellent sentiment; but since that president, public programs have overwhelmed our
system and taught folks to look to government, instead of working through their issues. I’d like
to see our county provide opportunities for success, not never ending programs.

What are the top 3 priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as
commissioner, take regarding each of them?

First, the county sustainability program takes direct aim at reasonably priced energy, with the plan to decarbonize Oakland County. This will it more expensive to live and work here, plus higher energy costs will drive away
manufacturing, we need to dial this back. Second, the county board spending $3 million to join
the World Economic Forum is a mistake. The WEF will be a poor investment of our tax dollars.
Instead of spending our tax dollars in Davos, Switzerland, they should stay here, I would try to
reverse this decision. Thirdly, the county budget was balanced with ARPA money, the $1.9
trillion bill passed as a rescue plan. But the money doesn’t exist, it adds to the federal debt. It
encourages spending that can’t be sustained. I oppose anything that causes inflation, this
definitely does. We should look for substantial cuts to the county budget to lower both taxes
and inflationary spending.

County Commissioner – 17th District

Yolanda Smith Charles, Democrat

Did Not Respond

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Aaron Tobin

Aaron Tobin, Republican

Age: 61

Current job: Retired Business Owner

Education: B.S. From Michigan State University

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a successful businessman that took over a virtually bankrupt automotive company, and built it into one of the largest family owned Auto Electric Remanufacturers in Michigan. I am a lifelong Oakland County resident that grew up in Southfield, and now live in Oak Park for about 25 years. I founded and run the Oak Park E-Z Roll, a bike group with over 3,000 members. We are a very inclusive and friendly group that rides together every week during the summer months. This was our seventh year of the E-Z Roll this year. Its a wonderful community event that welcomes everyone.

Why are you running for Oakland County Board of Commissioners?

Oakland County has paid 23 Million dollars of Highland Parks Water bill. The Commission has done nothing about this. I see record high property tax increases being proposed by the commission under the guise of a “Transit Tax” that will have virtually no increase in public transit services. The commission is out of touch with its residents. While people are having a hard time making ends meet, the Commission has voted themselves a 5% pay raise on top of massive tax increases. Our County Commission must be more fiscally responsible. If residents have to make tough choices to keep our households running, so should politicians and bureaucrats in Oakland County.

What are the top 3 priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

1) We have to stop treating Oakland County residents like they are a bottomless money pit that can be taxed without an end in sight. I will fight to get back the 23 Million that we paid for Highland Parks Water bill, and then prosecute those people that illegally billed us for those funds. 2) I will work on a Transit system with all of the cities in Oakland County, and stay much closer to the original $116 million dollar proposal, rather than the outrageous and unfair $660 million dollar current proposal. 3) I will fix the Oakland County roads with the $224 million stimulus dollars that we already have in Oakland County which the commission has been sitting on.

What actions/decisions by the current board of commissioners have you disagreed with and how would you do things differently?

The current $660 million dollar tax grab, under the guise of a “Transit Tax” is outrageous. We had excellent service while spending $116 million for public transit, and this huge increase is unconscionable. The Commission has done nothing to get our $23 Million dollars back from the Great Lakes Water Authority that was illegally billed to us. I will fight to get that money back. The $224 million dollars that the commission is sitting on needs to be spent on fixing the county roads and infrastructure which is in a state of disrepair in many areas of our county.

County Commissioner – 18th District

Janet Jackson, Democrat

Did Not Respond

Kat Phillips, Republican

Did Not Respond

County Commissioner – 19th District

Charlie Cavell, Democrat

Age: 31

Current job: Oakland County Commissioner and Habitat for Humanity

Education: BSW, Wayne State University. MSW, University of Michigan

Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less.

I am a social worker who has worked in policymaking, municipal finance and community organizing. I became a social worker after interacting with child protective services as a child. When I was 16 I was adopted. Our campaign is focused on expanding racial, social, economic and environmental justice.

Why are you running again for county commission and why should voters re-elect you?

I am running to emphasize the need for empathy in our community and to expand racial, social, economic and environmental justice.

What are the top three priority issues that Oakland County faces and what actions would you, as commissioner, take regarding each of them?

As in all places, our community’s issues stem from structural injustice. I say that because the issues I list are not a cure-all, but a starting point.

The focus of our team is to build: Thriving communities, happy and healthy people, and smart business.

Within that the three issues Oakland County faces are:

  1. Accessible physical infrastructure — things like stormwater runoff mitigation, clean water, facility upgrades for people to age in place, housing that is attainable
  2. Accessible human infrastructure — things to improve our quality of life, child care, certifications to enable people to earn high wages, affordable water and other utilities
  3. Enabling long-term competitiveness — things like supports for small businesses, preparing for climate change’s effects on our communities, laying a foundation of government programming to help people thrive

What are your accomplishments as commissioner?

  • Created our child care scholarship program, to help working families
  • Championed creation of Housing Trust Fund, to make our communities more inclusive
  • Sponsored creation of Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center in South Oakland, new Health Clinic in Hazel Park, homeless shelter to be built in south end
  • Passed Critical Home Repair fund to help seniors age in place
  • Led the creation of the Critical Infrastructure Improvement Grant Program to help our communities re: infrastructure
  • Supported the creation of the Office of Sustainability
  • Generally be a voice for the unheard and raise righteous hell in support of racial, social, economic and environmental justice!

Joseph C. Pucci, Republican

Did Not Respond

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