Oakland County Executive

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    Vicki Barnett

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    L. Brooks Patterson

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Biographical Information

What do you think county’s three most pressing problems are and where would you start to solve them?

What are the county's biggest budgetary concerns, and how would you address them?

What will you do to improve the lives of low-income residents in Oakland County?

What are your plans to further diversify Oakland County’s economy?

What would you do to improve the county’s workforce development efforts?

How will you attract young people to the county?

Do you support MDOT’s plan to add a lane each way from 8 Mile to Square Lake Road? Why or why not?

Do you support the proposed millage to fund regional transit in metro Detroit? Why or why not?

Where do you stand on settling refugees in Michigan, and Oakland County in particular?

What is the county’s role in assisting financially struggling cities?

How would your policies help to fix aging infrastructure in Oakland County?

Which county-provided services need the most improvement, and what suggestions can you offer for making them better?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

City of residence Farmington Hills
Age 62
Family Husband: Mark Steckloff Daughter: Samantha Steckloff Son: Jordan Steckloff (married to Holly Hopkins)
Education MBA Degree from University of Michigan, Dearborn, 1993 MBA Degree from University of Michigan, Dearborn, 1993 BGS Degree from University of Michigan, Dearborn, 1981
Vehicles owned Buick LaCrosse GMC Terrain
Professional Experience Former Investment Consultant with LPL Financial, Farmington Hills, MI 48334
Political Experience State Representative, 37th District, 2009-2014 Mayor of Farmington Hills, 2003-2007 City Council Member of Farmington Hills, 1995-2003
Race/ethnicity White, Jewish
Economic Development: • Add agriculture/urban farming program • Invest in job training • Require “claw back” of corporate tax subsidies if promised jobs are not created • Modify county purchasing guidelines to support women-, minority- & veteran-owned businesses

Poverty • Expand pre-school education • Increase access to health care • Improve support for Community Mental Health programs • Invest in programs to end homelessness

Infrastructure & Environment: • Test drinking water in schools & child care centers for lead • Enact a “fix it first” policy for roads & bridges • Ban injection fracking around county lakes & streams • Institute inspection & repair schedule for underground pipes
We have inadequate funds to repair our aging infrastructure – and not only broken roads and bridges. Our water and sewer treatment facilities, underground pipes carrying toxic chemicals, oil and gas, and private wells and septic systems are in critical disrepair or failing. I will:

• Work with industry to create a workable inspection and repair schedule for underground pipes • Require all private wells and septic fields be inspected and repaired prior to sale of property or at least every 5 years • Allocate additional general fund dollars to fix critical roads and bridges • Push state legislators to change the Act 51 Road local funding allocation to account for trips per mile of road
The County’s poverty rate has increased by 76% since 2005.

I will restore funds cut from our community health and dental programs, fund early learning programs for our vulnerable children, institute a paid sick leave program and support affordable day care programs for minimum wage workers. I will support robust public transportation to enable workers to get to jobs, and seniors and others who choose not to drive (or are unable to) to live independently without owning a car. I will work with MSHDA and private partners to move from a "shelter based" to a "home based" solution to homelessness. I will also work with local communities to provide tax incentives for low & moderate cost housing.
I will expand our emerging sectors program to include urban agriculture technology that creates year-round jobs in urban settings. We can convert old warehouses and other buildings to hydroponic organic vertical farms and provide farm-to-table produce in city centers.

Using PA 355 of 2014, I will propose a public/private partnership to establish an Oakland County Stock Exchange to create a business incubation program.

I will also work with local communities and developers to promote redevelopment and economic growth along RTA routes and around transit hubs.
We can achieve greater regional success by ensuring that our Michigan Works, community college and other workforce development programs address and match the training and job skill needs of workers and employers on a local basis. While federal workforce development funds are directed on a more regional basis, job skills and employer needs vary greatly within our region.

The County should also use the various industry apprenticeship programs that provide excellent job training, such as the MUST program for construction workers.

I will also push the Legislature to provide additional training funds and to require state agencies to seek input from employers regarding specific training needs.
Ironically, millennials and seniors look for many of the same amenities, such as active recreation, vibrant “3rd spaces” where people gather to socialize (parks, libraries, bars & restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries & museums), & affordable housing & robust public transportation (both of which I discuss elsewhere).

I will enhance the County’s myriad active recreational opportunities around our 1,400 lakes and streams, beautiful parks, nature preserves, golf courses and hiking & biking trails.

I will continue to support our downtown communities, like Ferndale, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Farmington, Holly, Rochester and Milford, that are reinventing themselves around the 3rd spaces model.
No. The I-75 widening project will cost over $1.2 billion when completed. Contrary to our current county executive’s statement that I-75 is Oakland County’s “Main Street”, the widening will actually expand a by-pass funneling commerce and customers away from the actual main streets of Oakland County’s cities and towns. In addition, many of these communities are now forced to share in the cost of this project they neither want nor can afford. Troy, Madison Heights and Royal Oak, for example, will be required to contribute over $20 million to the I-75 widening project – money they can otherwise use to repair and maintain their local roads and bridges.
Yes. 92% of the jobs in our region can’t be reached within an hour using our current patchwork of inadequate and substandard public transportation. Successful economic development requires workers to be able to get to where jobs are. We are losing our young talent to cities with robust public transit systems, like New York City and Chicago. Millennials are drawn to areas with public transit hubs and the RTA plan will encourage development around transit stops throughout the County. It will enable disabled residents to get to work and will allow our growing senior population to age in place by providing needed transportation to shops, restaurants, and medical service providers.
For decades, Oakland County has successfully resettled thousands of refugees from Middle Eastern countries. Persecution of Iraq’s Christians forced many to flee their homeland and come to Oakland County. Since 2007, Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, reports that more than 30,000 Chaldean refugees have arrived in Oakland and Macomb counties. The Detroit News on 1/7/16 reported “Troy has passed Dearborn as the city with the second highest percentage of foreign-born residents, according to the latest census figures.” Our society has been enriched by cultural diversity and I support continued assistance and aid to families who seek refuge in Oakland County.
Technical support: • Assist with emergency dispatch & policing consolidation • Help with service sharing & cooperative efforts

Road funding: • Increase funding for tri-party road projects • Expand experimental bi-party road-funding to assist older communities with their infrastructure repair needs

Economic development: • Work with struggling municipalities on development & redevelopment projects • Promote land reuse and redevelopment where adequate infrastructure already exists instead of in green fields that result in suburban sprawl

Property Value Stabilization: • Support programs allowing families to stay in their homes in lieu of foreclosure for unpaid property taxes
As mentioned above, I propose working with industry to create a workable inspection and repair schedule for underground pipes, requiring all wells and septic fields be inspected and repaired prior to selling the property, or every 5 years, allocating additional general funds to fix critical county roads and bridges and working with state legislators to change the Act 51 Road formula to include trips per mile of road in the local funding allocation.

This is a national disgrace. We need a strong federal policy with a well-funded urban agenda to assist cities across the county to rebuild and repair our aging and neglected above-ground and underground infrastructure.
Despite our Medical Main Street program, we ranked 23 out of 83 counties for quality health outcomes in Michigan (2015 report;; University of WI Population Health Institute). Community health and mental health budgets continue to suffer from underfunding and a dismal lack of adequate mental health providers and inpatient beds. I propose increasing funding to community and mental health programs, creating partnerships with local hospitals, community service agencies and area universities to increase the number of trained health care providers and work with county and local first responders to address our growing opioid addiction problem.
Yes. I am proud to support Secretary Clinton for president and will work hard for her successful election.
City of residence Independence Township
Age 77
Family Mary Margaret, Daughter; Dane, Son; Shawn, Daughter
Education Juris Doctor - University of Detroit; B.A. in English - University of Detroit
Vehicles owned N/A
Professional Experience Private practice attorney in Oakland County; English teacher in Detroit; U.S Army, 1962-1964
Political Experience Oakland County Executive: 1993-Present; Oakland County Prosecutor: 1973-1988
Race/ethnicity White
Campaign Website
Incumbent? true
Oakland County's three pressing challenges are to ensure we can continue to provide a highly-trained work force for the knowledge-based economy, approach regional governance in a way that protects Oakland County taxpayers, and continue to find innovations in government to maintain a balanced, multi-year budget. On jobs, we are conducting skills needs assessments and working with Michigan Works! to transition the chronically unemployed into the work force. On regional governance, we will model tackling regional issues on what has been accomplished with the Cobo authority. And ensuring a balanced budget will enable us to provide outstanding, consistent services to residents and businesses.
The county's biggest budgetary concerns are the challenges in the federal and state budgets as well as the world economy. Sharing revenue with local governments and grant programs are among the first to go when federal and state budgets need to be scaled back. Because my administration budgets for three-years on a line-item basis with a five-year outlook, we can anticipate with a degree of accuracy what our future revenues will be and make adjustments years ahead of time.
We have a number of programs already in place. Our Community & Home Improvement Division provides help with foreclosures (a success rate that exceeds 80%) and finding low-income residents the funding they need for home improvements. We identified a serious problem with African-American infant mortality in Pontiac which far exceeded that of the white population. Health Division instituted a program that helped reduce African-American infant mortality significantly, but has a ways to go yet. We have instituted programs so low-income residents can access healthier foods such as using Bridge cards at farmers markets. We have many more programs we have instituted, including help for the homeless.
Our Emerging Sectors initiative has promoted diversification of Oakland County's economy with 21st Century jobs. We continue to support this effort aggressively and find particular economic sectors that could benefit from their own economic diversification programs such as Medical Main Street for the healthcare sector and Tech 248 for the IT and communications sector. We also continue to attract foreign investment with 1,040 foreign-owned firms from 39 countries - that's more than some states. University of Michigan economists Fulton and Grimes say job growth will continue in Oakland County mostly in the medium- and high-wage areas of the knowledge-based economy.
We are continuing to conduct skills needs assessment in other sectors of our workforce. We share that data with Oakland Schools and local colleges and universities so they can align their curriculum to ensure their graduates will have employable skills. Meanwhile, we continue to leverage many of the great programs with Michigan Works! to get the chronically unemployed back into the workforce. Plus, we have established a website to connect those interested in skilled trades with the training they need and subsequent jobs that are available.
First, we have been aggressive about developing our downtown settings through our Main Street Oakland County program. We have a total of 32 downtowns, 22 of which are now involved in MSOC. These downtowns are each developing a unique sense of place - attracting businesses and residents. We have expanded our Oakland County Business Round Table to a fifth committee that will be made up of those under 40 and focus on the issues important to them. Each year, they will submit a report to me suggesting new initiatives to attract young people. With the other committees, our implementation rate is about 80%. Plus, Emerging Sectors is providing the high-tech jobs that attract the younger generation.
This is not merely about adding a lane, which will only be two percent of the cost of the project. This is about the modernization of I-75, which hasn't been done for 60 years. The modernization will make the freeway safer through improved, modern infrastructure. Part of the plan includes implementing connected freeway technology, which would give it the capability to communicate with modern transportation. The auto companies could use it as a test bed for their technological advances. Plus, the I-75 corridor should be modernized because it touches half of the businesses and workforce in Oakland County.
After supporting the RTA legislation, I am encouraged to see the initial long-term planning effort to develop a regional master transit plan. There are growing business clusters throughout Oakland County with thousands of jobs that people must be connected to. Effective regional transit that people can utilize to reliably commute to work is important for both employers and employees. We are looking for value commensurate with the investment being asked of taxpayers. If a final plan is adopted by the RTA, it will then be up to the voters to decide if they see value in increasing public transit investment to connect our region and maximize access for the world class businesses in Oakland.
The FBI Director, the CIA Director, The US Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence have all at one point or another indicated that ISIS is already using refugees to send their agents into the United States. Until we are assured that we can effectively screen for terrorists, we need to put the refugee resettlement issue on hold. Also, the U.S. is failing to comply with the Refugee Act of 1980 which requires them to consult with local governments on placement of refugees. We must insist that the Obama administration follow the law.
I've always said that if it's good for the region and good or neutral for Oakland County, I'll support it. If it's good for the region but bad for Oakland County, I'll fight for my taxpayers. That said, my administration has helped struggling cities in a number of ways. Within Oakland County, we have helped smaller municipalities refinance their debt at a lower rate using our AAA bond rating. We have shared staff with other municipalities in order to share our best practices in budgeting, technology, health, and more. Also, I authorized the Oakland County Business Finance Corp. several years ago to help businesses outside the county find financing, including in Livingston and Detroit.
When the Michigan Legislature created the current Oakland County, they created the Road Commission for Oakland County as a separate political, fiscal, and legal entity from the county. Plus, Michigan law mandates the state is responsible for funding roads. That said, the county has in its annual budget something called a tri-party agreement. It assists local governments with funding road repairs. Local units of government have never fully utilized that fund. In addition, in 2015 I asked the Board of Commissioners to approve sending $2 million to the RCOC to help replace 12 Tandem Dump Trucks with accessories and three John Deere Motor Graders.
Oakland County leaves more road money on the table in Lansing than it gets back. That means the RCOC needs to be a bit selective about how to spend precious road repair dollars. I continue to make it my mission to let Lansing know that Oakland County needs more equitable road funding so our friends at the RCOC may do more road repair projects annually.