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Oakland County Commission District 6

Choose one candidate. Oakland County commissioners serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $33,717.

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    Eileen Kowall
    (Rep)

  • Kimberli Troutt
    (Dem)

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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?

Do you support the proposed millage to fund a regional transit system? Why or why not?

What, in your view, should be the county and the region’s transportation priorities?

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

Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?

Has the county taken appropriate steps to prevent gun violence?

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

What should Oakland County do to fix its aging infrastructure?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 White Lake, MI
Age 64
Family Husband Mike (married 42 years) Daughter Stephanie Kowall Daughter Marissa Downs (Tom) Grandchildren Madeline & Colin
Education University of Detroit - Assoc. in Dental Hygiene
Vehicles owned 2012 Chrysler 200 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 1998 Dodge Ram pickup
Professional Experience MGS Consultants, specializing in Higher Ed issues, Oakland County Commissioner (2003-2008) (2015-current), State Representative (2009-2014), Sales/Design/Management Accurate Woodworking, Dental Hygienist
Political Experience Republican precinct delegate, Member of Oakland County Executive Committee, Former Chair of 11th Congressional District Republican Committee, State & National Republican Committees, North Oakland Republican Club
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Campaign Website http://www.votekowall.com
Incumbent? yes
* Continued Economic Development: We've done an outstanding job of bringing emerging sector business to Oakland County, but we must stay pro-active & protective as other states are all too willing to lure them away. * Workforce and Talent: The lack of an adequate workforce could stunt economic growth. We need people trained in good paying jobs from skilled trades to advanced manufacturing. More efforts like Advantage Oakland participating in National Manufacturing Day, where manufacturers host factory tours for high school and OCC students * Roads: See answers below. Plus, we need to keep pushing for PA 51 reform for a more more fair distribution of road funding.
Per the proposed plan & proposed millage, Oakland County taxpayers would be contributing $63 million each year or $630 million over the 10 years. All we get is a bus line on Woodward? We have a SMART bus line on Woodward. Even though the new Woodward line would be rapid transit, it's not worth $630 million in Oakland County taxpayer money. My commission district consists of White Lake & West/Northwest Waterford & would get no benefit at all. The same is true for most communities in Oakland County. 1.2 mills would be burdensome to many Oakland County residents. Also, as technology makes advances in mobility there could very well be better, less costly ways of transporting people.
Oakland County already partners with the Oakland County Road Commission and local governments with our Tri-Party Road Funding to support local projects. We recently doubled the County's contribution from $1million to $2 million. We also initiated a pilot program to contribute $1million for city/village road projects. We also recently allocated $1million to the Road Commission to help pay for equipment repair and replacement, thus freeing up funding for much needed road repairs.
Video records of interactions between sheriff's and citizens could provide accountability and protection for both law enforcement and citizens. However, there are concerns regarding personal privacy rights that have not have been addressed legislatively as of yet. I would want to see citizens protected from unreasonable FOIA requests for sensationalistic purposes. Also, legislation should define how long records would need to be stored & which would be subject to FOIA, to prevent burdensome costs to law enforcement. These issues need to be addressed before the Sheriff's Department should initiate a department-wide body camera program.
We still have a "Wild West" situation with medical marijuana! We must build a framework for patients, caretakers, law enforcement & the medical field to be able to provide for safe and well defined systems for distribution, etc. I worked on this issue as a state representative in 2013-2014 and it still remains unresolved. Until we can wrap our arms around a comprehensive means of dealing with medical marijuana, I don't see how we jump ahead to legalizing recreational marijuana.
Yes. The BOC has led the effort to partner with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the Sheriff's Department, and local police to create the Lock It Up Oakland program. Annually we distribute thousands of free trigger locks & promote safe storage of guns through PSA's by well known local media personalities. We also partner with retailers to offer discounts on gun safes. The purpose of these efforts is to prevent accidental shootings, tragically mostly children, and to prevent theft of guns that are then used to commit crimes. The Oakland BOC received an award from the NSFF in 2014 for our efforts to promote firearm safety in the region.
Education is not the purview of county government. However, we have partnered on a program with Oakland Intermediate Schools to fund an effective program on anti-bullying. We sponsor a Youth in Government Day annually, where high school students are invited to learn about county government. The Sheriff provides training for school personnel on Active Shooter strategies. Our Health Dept. is working with schools in developing effective ways to prevent prescription drug abuse and suicides. The BOC is considering supporting testing of school water systems for lead and other harmful elements.
As many have said, Flint has been the canary in the coal mine. We've been acutely aware of the the deplorable conditions of our roads, but blissfully unaware of water and sewer structures that lie just below. Right now, county officials are putting enormous efforts into the Great Lake Water Authority (GLWA) to deal with multiple issues we've been handed as part of the new authority - all while doing their best to protect Oakland County ratepayers. The Oakland County part of this infrastructure needs to be assessed. Drains are also an issue, and a good place to start is with water retention technologies such as the systems Lawrence Technology has designed on their campus.
Oakland County has always been willing to lend fiscal expertise to help cities see their way out of fiscal problems. The County can use their AAA bond rating to help cities obtain lower interest bonds. Deteriorating downtowns can be turned around through our Main Street program. We also share technologies and many other services with local governments to help them save costs. Programs such as Community & Home Improvement has been able to help tear down abandoned homes, as help low-income people repair or replace furnaces, roofs, etc. through low-interest loans.
I think the county is currently doing a good job of providing quality, cost-efficient services. There is always room for improvement and we should always be on the lookout for new technology and better ways of delivering services. I remain vigilant that the county not become overburdensome with regulations.
None, that I can point out. Through strong fiscal management, the County has been able to weather the Great Recession and emerge better and quicker than most. Our fiscal team continues to garner national awards for our accounting & budgeting process. We now have a 3-year rolling budget, with a 5-year outlook. This allows us to adjust and correct the course of multiple year budgets as needed. After battening down the hatches during the lost decade, we are now able to cautiously address deferred needs such as capital improvement projects. The only thing I worry about is possible "mission creep" to start funding projects and causes that exceed the purview of county government.
My parents both immigrated (legally) from Ireland in the late 1940's. They had sponsors, housing and jobs lined up before coming to the US. It's a much different day. We already have so many illegal immigrants in the country and now we have all of thousands of refuges pouring in? My heart goes out to these people, but they are leaving countries where it is hard, if not impossible, to obtain records to truly vet them. They are coming from areas where conditions exist for terrorist groups recruitment efforts. Unless we can get absolute assurances that these refuges won't pose a security threat to Oakland County residents, I have huge concerns.
In addition to what I answered in a previous question, we have numerous health initiatives such as ECHO to help identify and address health needs in low-income communities, assistance with utility bills, outreach programs for at-risk youth, to name just a few. I would continue to be open and supportive of other effective proposals that focus on outcome-based results to help people caught up in the cycle of poverty and put them on a path to better lives.
As I stated in the first question, a talented workforce is a challenge to our continued economic development. Every company & business sector I talk to voices concerns over a lack of talent. I believe Brooks' Business Roundtable is seeking solutions and our County Economic Development team is making to many outreach efforts such as National Manufacturers Day to arrange for high school and community college students for visit advanced manufacturers. We need to get industry, education, incubators, accelerators, business groups, etc. to come together in addressing this problem. As a commissioner, I will be making more of an outreach to businesses in my district to hear their needs.
As I am filling out this questionnaire, we have yet to go to Cleveland and nominate a candidate. As a Republican, I will support our eventual nominee. I will pray that he will surround himself with the best experts our country has to offer and that he will lead us to a place where we once again have pride and stand up for ourselves. Overall, it has been a too long, & too crazy election cycle! We need a different process!
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