Wayne County Commission District 10

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    Joe Barone

  • Nate Smith-Tyge

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Biographical Information

What do you view as Wayne County’s most pressing problems, and how would you start to solve them?

How do you feel about the actions taken by the administration of Wayne County Executive Warren Evans both in requesting a declaration of financial emergency to deal with the county’s financial situation and in the steps taken to address the financial emergency, such as through employee and retiree healthcare changes?

What efforts would you pursue to improve Wayne County’s financial situation?

What can Wayne County do to reverse its ongoing population loss?

What can Wayne County do to improve employment possibilities across the county?

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

Aside from its people, what are Wayne County’s greatest assets and how can the county better use or market them?

Many county officials have complained in recent months about a loss of talent from the ranks of Wayne County government. How would you make Wayne County government a more attractive option for quality candidates in light of the county’s financial challenges?

Do you support the union-led petition effort to reduce the base pay of Wayne County commissioners from $61,800 to $45,000? Why or why not?

How would your policies help to fix aging infrastructure in Wayne?

What is your position on outfitting the county sheriff’s department with body cameras?

Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?

With reports showing Michigan behind on education, what role if any do you see the county taking to improve education?

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

Has the county taken appropriate steps to prevent gun violence?

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

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

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

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

City of residence Plymouth Township
Age 44
Family daughters: Olivia (13) and Isabelle (11)
Education Bachelor of Arts-Materials and Logistics Management-Michigan State University-1993 Juris Doctor-Western Michigan Cooley Law School-1996 Master of Laws-Wayne State University Law School-2004
Vehicles owned 2014 Lincoln MKX
Professional Experience 20 year private practice attorney at Barone Law Offices, PLC on Main Street in Plymouth, Michigan.
Political Experience Wayne County Commissioner-10th District-April 2015-present 2008-35th District Court Judge candidate-finished 2nd out of 6 candidates to advance to the general election. Narrowly lost to a close race general election approx. 32,000 votes- 35,000 votes
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Incumbent? true
The number one issue facing Wayne County is successfully emerging from the state declared financial emergency. Over the past year, we have made great strides in righting the financial ship. In 2015, we have eliminated our $52 million structural deficit as well as our $82 million accumulated deficit. We have reduced unfunded financial obligations by $1 billion and are now on a course to once again have a financially stable Wayne County. For the first time in eight years, we actually have a budget surplus. With the financial stability course set, I am confident that we will be able to complete the long overdue jail project that has burdened our residents for far too long.
Overall, I am not a proponent of the existing financial emergency law. It has the effect of removing all control from our local elected officials in favor a single non-elected appointed emergency manager. In Wayne County, we chose to keep as much control with our local elected officials as possible so that our residents still had a say in their county government.

As for the declaration of a financial emergency itself, there was no question Wayne County was in a dire financial situation which required immediate action. Legacy costs were and still remain a huge financial burden to county solvency. I am confident that Mr. Evans did not want to make these drastic but necessary changes.
Long term legacy costs and past financial mismanagement have been key factors for our financial distress. Employees and retirees have made tremendous sacrifices to help right the financial ship. Emerging from this financial emergency shouldn't rest solely on the backs of our most important assets. As commissioners, we must be good stewards of public resources and work cooperatively with CEO Evans to make sure that we maximize every tax dollar spent for the benefit of our residents.
There are many factors and units of government that come into play when trying to slow a population loss for any region. Federal, state, county and municipal partners must all come together to address the problem in realistic terms. Affordable housing, schools that excel and safe communities are key factors that most people look for when evaluating where to live. Regionally, more people would relocate here if we had good jobs paying competitive wages. These employment opportunities are directly related to making it beneficial for employers to locate their business here.
Again, the partnerships of state, county and municipal governments are keys to making Wayne County an attractive place to do business. Employers will locate here if we offer an them an attractive place to do business. Low property and business taxes are keys incentives to do business in any region. Employers locating will create employment opportunities for our residents.
Coordinated on-line access to all county provided services should be a top priority going forward. Every county department should have the ability to provide a certain level of services to our residents via a home computer. This requires our county to invest in IT infrastructure. Again, righting our financial ship is essential for us to explore these opportunities. Long term, improved efficiency in this area would go a long way towards being able serve our residents in the best possible way.
Our residents are our greatest asset.
During my tenure on the commission, I too have seen top talent leave Wayne County for better employment opportunities elsewhere. However, lets not forget, if the county is not financially solvent, we cannot offer anyone a career opportunity at all. First and foremost, we must emerge from this financial emergency with a clean bill of health. Our long term financial stability and efficient operations going forward will put us in a position to offer competitive wages so that we can attract and retain quality county employees.
No. The reasoning behind the drive was perplexing from the outset. The drive apparently targeted only commissioners pay and left alone the pay of all other elected officials and appointees, most whom make double or close to triple the salary of commissioners. In fact, there are appointees who even saw a pay increase in 2015. Commissioners on the other hand have not had a pay increase in 14 years and even took a voluntary reduction in 2009. Contrary to press reports, as a county commissioner, I never have and never will have a county pension nor will I ever qualify for lifetime healthcare. Misinformation sometimes leads to misguided and failing efforts.
As a single commissioner, it is difficult to set policy to fix a county-wide aging infrastructure. With that being said, I believe it is essential to work with local, state, county and federal elected officials to educate and inform them of the happenings in each of our districts. For example, "aging infrastructure" in my district, to most of our residents, means the extremely poor condition of our roads. Fixing our roads requires strong coordination between and within all segments of government. I'm afraid that the changes that our state representatives gave us in their road funding package will not improve our "aging infrastructure" soon enough for most of our residents.
I believe that all law enforcement officials (federal, state, county and local) should be equipped with body cameras. I believe it mutually benefits our hard working law enforcement officers as well as protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.
Yes. With the proper tax and regulatory scheme in place, I would support a completely different set of rules, regulations and laws.
Candidate did not provide a response.
I do not believe a county that is in a state declared financial emergency is in any position to assist struggling municipalities at this time. With that being said, cooperative efforts and brainstorming between local mayors, supervisors, trustees, council members, commissioners and all county elected officials can serve as a catalyst for economic development which would benefit local governments.
Unjustified violence against another human in any form is unacceptable. I believe that a county-wide resolution fully supporting our 2nd Amendment rights would send a great message that we do not condone nor accept gun violence.
No. The residents of my district will pay a disproportionate share of the expense. I do not oppose a long overdue regional transit solution. I just will not support the current proposed form.
I will support the eventual nominee. However, I do not foresee a high demand for my appearance at presidential campaign events.
City of residence Plymouth Township
Age 39
Family Wife: Anna Gedman
Education BA - MSU History MA, UM Education (CSHPE) PhD, MSU Education (HALE) expected 2016
Vehicles owned My wife works for Ford and we drive Ford management lease vehicles. I currently drive an Explorer and my wife drives an MKX.
Professional Experience Field Staff: Congressman Bart Stupak District Staff: Congressman John D. Dingell Staff: Michigan Association of State Universities Director: MSU Student Food Bank
Political Experience Communications Staff: 2004 Michigan Coordinated Campaign Communications Director: Taj for Congress (2012) Candidate: Michigan House of Representatives (HD 20, 2014) Public Member: Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority (2005 - 2007) Public Member: Michigan Board of Medicine (2007 - 2010)
Race/ethnicity White
Campaign Website
Incumbent? false
Wayne County faces a myriad of challenges that effect the day to day to lives of county residents. My top three priorities are continuing the improvement of the county's financial situation, solving the jail facility issue, and improving county roads and infrastructure. Making sure the county is on sound financial footing must be the first priority and without ensuring financial stability no other improvements will be possible. Resolving the jail fiasco is a key component of righting the county's financial ship. I will not support any proposals which leave county residents on the hook for an inadequate facility or that underwrite professional sports stadiums for billionaires.
In general, I support the efforts of the County Executive as they have set the county on an improving financial course. The decision to declare a financial emergency was not an easy one but was a better choice than bankruptcy or an emergency financial manager. The citizens of Wayne County elected Mr. Evans to make tough decisions and I will always favor an elected official making these types of decisions over an appointed EFM. The cuts to employees and retirees were not easy but there were not many other options, short of massive cuts to important services. I will work with county employees and the Executive to help restore benefits as it financial possible and fiscally responsible.
As I mentioned above, solving the jail facility issue is the first priority for continuing to improve the county's financial condition. We need a new jail but poor management and planning lead to the current fiasco. We cannot let the mistakes of the past occur again but we also must move forward as the need to improve jail facilities is still a pressing matter. I will work to ensure that a sound plan with close oversight and management is put in place to resolve the jail issue. I am not opposed to alternate sites but they must make fiscal sense for county residents.

I also support continuing efforts to improve county management practices and increase efficiency within county government.
Wayne County's financial situation is largely dependent on property values and smartly growing our population will enhance all facets of life in the county. As such, the county government must do what is possible to make our county an attractive place for residents and businesses, which will increase property values. This means providing high quality services: roads and infrastructure, public safety, parks and recreation services, and public health (including mental health) services. A well run and effective county government will help to make Wayne County an attractive place for residents and business to remain and thrive in, while also attracting new residents and businesses.
First and foremost, provide quality services and sound management of county resources. As it directly relates to employment opportunities in Wayne County, the county government must work in concert with all levels of government, the private sector, and non-profit community to provide effective services to help train and place workers in open and emerging fields. Workforce development operates best when all parties are involved in a coordinated manner that reduces duplication and enhances program access and effectiveness. I will work to make sure the county takes this approach to improving employment opportunities in our community.
The main priority must be fixing roads (see my answer below on this topic). I would also like to work with the Parks Department to enhance services offered at county parks. The county can provide services and programming that serve communities across Wayne County and improve our quality of life - these programs should be tailored to the needs of individual communities.
We are a hub for commerce, education, and entertainment for the region and state. We need to make sure people in Wayne County and across the state know the vibrant and vital role our county plays in regional and statewide success. Making the county a welcoming place and building on our success are very important. In some folks' minds Wayne County evokes a negative reaction and we need to do a better job of communicating the great diversity and excitement that are embodied in all of the communities within the county. This might mean working with the Pure Michigan ad campaign and working on a positive earned media campaign.
It is important for potential employees to know there will be stability in county government and that they will be supported in doing their jobs. While we might not currently be able to offer better compensation, I will work to improve the atmosphere for county employees so they are recognized and supported for their hard work on behalf of the citizens.

I will also work hard to restore funding so the county can offer competitive pay to attract and retain top talent (including increasing starting pay for Sheriff's deputies). A key component of this will be working with state leaders to fully fund state revenue sharing. The state needs to hold up its end of the bargain with the county.
Yes. Serving as a county commissioner is about more than a salary to me and I would be running even if there wasn't compensation. Moreover, $45,000 is more than fair for a part-time position. However, I do recognize that good compensation does allow people from all walks of life to serve their community and maintain a good standard of living - and I support a living wage for all workers. That being said, commissioners are able to work other jobs to augment their county salaries so $45,000 is reasonable.

The bigger issue is repairing the relationship between the commission and county employees. This is an area I will focus on improving as it will help the entire county work better.
Wayne County's roads and transportation infrastructure are in rough shape. I will work to make fixing roads, bridges, overpasses, and other county infrastructure the first budget priority of Wayne County. Fixing the roads is key to economic development and growing property values. I will fight to include performance and longevity requirements in county road contracts. Most residents in my district live in a municipality that cannot legally own their own roads (Canton and Plymouth Townships) and we desperately need a voice at the decision making table to ensure our community gets its fair share of county road repair money. I will be in the majority and able to deliver for my district.
I support this and would support the Sheriff in seeking grant funding to help facilitate these efforts. Public safety is vitally important and making sure deputies have the resources and tools they need to effectively do their jobs is an important role for the commission to play in supporting the Sheriff and his department. Body cameras can also increase public trust of law enforcement and we must improve the relationship between law enforcement and many communities throughout our county, state, and nation. Body cameras are a tool for this but we must also increase training and accountability for law enforcement. Good police work is dependent on public trust and we must restore the trust.
Yes. Marijuana is actually safer than alcohol and is not a gateway drug (unlike prescription pain killers). Allowing recreational marijuana can also be a great source of tax revenue (see the example in Colorado). The revenue provided by legal marijuana would allow for increases in public health and addiction treatment services and also provide a great funding source for revenue sharing to counties and municipalities.
As a person with a background in educational research I do not accept the premise of this question which seems to be based on a highly suspect report from Ed Trust Midwest. Leaving that debate aside, I do not feel the county has a role to play in education policy and service delivery. I firmly believe that educators should make education decisions and the county does not need to involve itself in educational policy matters.

The county can and should provide high quality infrastructure so students, teachers, and staff can get to school safely and also provide public safety and health resources to ensure schools can focus on learning and teaching.
Wayne County can serve as a facilitator of regional cooperation and the streamlining of services. For instance, it does not make much sense that each municipality has its own 911 and dispatch center. In many communities police officers that should be on the street are stuck in the station answering the phone. Wayne County could have a county-wide or regional 911 and dispatch centers that free up city and township resources. The county can help eliminate duplicated services and increase efficiency for local communities that ensure police officers or city workers are providing direct services to citizens.
Given the financial constraints the county has done okay in this area. We can and should do better. This means supporting the prosecutor's office with resources to go after violent offenders with the full force of the law (which means more APAs to handle cases), providing resources to the Sheriff to support city and township police with increased enforcement efforts, and providing resources to community organizations that work to stem the root causes of gun violence. All of this requires resources and I will work to help these agencies in the budget process and also to secure grants and other funding sources to help reduce gun violence in Wayne County.
Yes. A regional transit system is long over due. I have met numerous people, mostly senior citizens in Plymouth and Canton, that desperately need safe and reliable public transit options. The current plan is not perfect but it is a giant step in the right direction. I will fully support the RTA and view it as a starting point for improved multi-county regional cooperation in Southeastern Michigan.
Yes - I was a Senator Sanders supporter in the primary but will support Secretary Clinton and the entire Democratic ticket.