Republican L Brooks Patterson has led Oakland County as executive since 1992. He’s seeking a seventh and final four-year term. Patterson touts his ability to keep the county’s finances strong through tough economic times for the rest of the region and state.
But his history is a complicated one.
Patterson made his name opposing school desegregation efforts in the 1970s. And he’s had a tenuous relationship with the city of Detroit and its officials for as many decades.
Democrat Vicki Barnett, a former state lawmaker and mayor of Farmington Hills, might be the toughest challenger Patterson has faced in recent years. She says it’s time for change as Patterson ages and the county becomes more diverse.
“[Oakland County has] been going along kind of okay, and it’s been great for some people, but not for everybody,” says Barnett. ”We’ve left a lot of communities behind. Pontiac, Hazel Park, have basically been left to their own devises and are struggling to come back.”
Barnett says she credits Democratic Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner for maintaining Oakland County’s AAA bond rating. Meisner has been in that position for eight years.
Barnett says a key difference between her philosophy for Oakland County and that of Patterson is Patterson favors sprawl over redevelopment of existing infrastructure.
“Redevelopment is the best bang for the buck, economically.”
To hear more of the conversation with Vicki Barnett on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.
L Brooks Patterson was invited several times to join the program with Barnett, but did not respond to those requests.