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Oakland County Commission District 15

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

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  • Candidate picture

    Adam Kochenderfer
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Mary Ward
    (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 Rochester Hills
Age 36
Family Lauren (wife) Claire (daughter) Elise (daughter) Finnegan (dog)
Education J.D., cum laude, University of Michigan Law School B.A., summa cum laude, Oakland University
Vehicles owned GMC Acadia Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Professional Experience Attorney, Wolfson Bolton PLLC (2011 - present) Attorney, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP (2005-2010)
Political Experience Oakland County Board of Commissioners (2015 - present) City Council, Rochester Hills (2011 - 2015)
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Incumbent? yes
1. MAINTAIN ROADS - We must maintain roads in the least disruptive way possible. The County Commission has established a Local Road Improvement Program that offers matching funds for targeted road maintenance and improvement projects.

2. CONTROL GOVERNMENT COST – Maintaining our strong bond rating is essential to our long-term financial health. Oakland County must remain focused on areas that matter most to residents while maintaining fiscal discipline.

3. INCREASE JOBS – We must continue the county's strong jobs record. County services should be focused on helping businesses grow by quickening the permit process, streamlining filings, and promoting our talented workforce.
The lack of a comprehensive regional transit systems has prevented our region from realizing its maximum potential. But we must proceed thoughtfully. Any regional transmit system, including the one recently proposed, will add structural and operational costs for decades to come. I don't believe we have enough information yet to fully evaluate the costs of the proposed system and its true value to outlying areas of metro Detroit. I am hopeful that the ongoing public debate will reveal that vital information.
Any regional transportation system must be true to its name: it must serve the entire "region." That means more than rapid bus service along the Woodward corridor and other arteries lying along the middle and southern portion of the county. As a County Commissioner for Rochester and a substantial part of Rochester Hills, I have a duty to represent this area's residents and ensure that they are receiving true value for their tax dollars. Otherwise, the proposed mileage is going to be a very hard sell, not only to the Rochester community, but to other areas of the county removed from the proposed system's primary features.
We are fortunate in Oakland County; our Sherriff's Department has an exemplary record and has been recognized across the country for its professionalism. But every organization must continuinally search out ways to improve, including ours. I believe body cameras may be a useful tool to further strengthen accountability and resolve some of the "eye witness" disputes that sometimes arise.
The experience of "early adopter" states tells us that we must look at this issue cautiously. Many areas that have legalized recreational marijuana have struggled with issues such as underage use and a tourism industry that has attracted people unfamiliar with marijuana and its risks. The risks likely outweighs the benefits to Oakland County.
Oakland County has instituted numerous programs targeted at preventing gun violence, and the county's gun violence statistics evidence that fact. In fact, Oakland County features some of the safest communities in the state. But we should always remain open to any other innovative programs across the country that have an effect of preventing gun violence while fully protecting residents' Second Amendement rights.
Oakland County plays a vital role in supporting the numerous school districts in our community, and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the resources and accountability they need to provide a world-class education to students. As the father of two daughters under 2 years old, the challenges of tomorrow's workplace weighs heavy on my mind. Our classrooms must feature the technology they will need to compete, not only regionally, but globally. The county has taken substantial steps toward this goal, but now isn't the time to rest.
During my time as a county commissioner, I have been focused on the infrastructure of Oakland County. Flint has reminded us that infrastructure is vital to the physical and economic well being of our entire region. To that end, I initiated the Energy Infrastructure and Reliability Study Group to assess the county's electrical grid. My resolution was approved by the Board of Commissioners and received broad bi-partisan support. We are currently examining areas of chronic power outages in Oakland County, as well as evaluating our level of preparedness for cyber attacks or other terrorist attacks on the grid.
Oakland County has a wealth of resources and institutional knowledge that it repeatedly shares with all cities, including those struggling economically. For example, our Sherriff's Department has dramatically reduced response times in Pontiac and begun the process of giving those residents the protection they expect and deserve. Moreover, we have lent out expertise to struggling cities outside the county, including Detroit, which all of us are hoping continues its recovery. The rise of financially struggling cities benefits us all.
When I talk with residents, roads remain one of the top concerns. The recession left our road commission with significantly reduced resources to address both maintenance and improvements. But I am hopeful that the state's recently enacted road improvement plan will finally give residents relief. Additionally, the County Commission has established a Local Road Improvement Program that offers matching funds for targeted road maintenance and improvement projects. We have already seen interest by communities across the county in this program.
Leading a county through a recession is difficult, but economic recoveries bring their own challenges. It’s easy for innovation to take a backseat to check-writing when revenues are increasing. I’m proud to say that Oakland County paid attention to the areas that mattered most to residents while maintaining fiscal discipline. As the economy continues to recover, Oakland County must remain focused on residents’ priorities. That means fully evaluating the costs and benefits of each government expenditure and determining whether residents are truly receiving value for their dollars.
We are a nation of immigrants; my great-grandmother came to this country from modern-day Slovenia. It would be disingenuous to say that legal immigration doesn't strengthen the United States. But it would be equally disingenuous to say that we face no risk from Syria or other areas of the world serving as hotbeds for terrorism. We must ensure that strong safeguards and vetting procedures are in place.
The best thing we can do to improve the lives of low-income residents is to continue to attract a wide variety of employers while offering avenues to educational opportunities for skilled trades and other in-demand jobs. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Michigan, but we cannot stop our efforts to compete for jobs requiring all skill levels. Additionally, the county has established financial counseling to families attempting to navigate foreclosures, low credit scores, and other financial challenges.
Oakland County’s economy is among the strongest in the nation. In fact, the 2015 unemployment rate was the lowest annual reading since 2001. Now isn’t the time to rest. County regulatory services should be focused on helping businesses grow by quickening the permit process, streamlining filings, assisting compliance, and promoting our talented workforce. Additionally, we must continue our efforts at targeting emerging sectors as the best and brightest spots of the economy to bring well paying jobs to Oakland County.
The past few days have revealed startling facts about the Democrats' apparent nominee. The FBI Director has described her activities as "extremely careless" in the handling of classified information, and recited numerous instances where she apparently made false statements about her private e-mail server. Those facts should give pause to any voter, Republican or Democrat. We should be able to do better as a country.
No
No
City of residence Rochester Hills
Family Rob Ward Kristin Sherman
Vehicles owned Ford Escape
Professional Experience Retired Rochester Community Schools Teacher ESL teacher presently for TechWorld and Global LT Realtor for Re/Max Suburban
Political Experience Ran for State Representative 2010
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
1) Our natural environment needs to be preserved including our water supply and greenspaces.

2) Enhancement of community mental and physical health.

3) Improve county roads.
I support the creation of a regional transit system. The young people are moving into cities for this very reason. They want to be able to work and go to school with a reliable mass transit system. Because of this, we should support the creation of such a system. It makes good economical sense. People could save money and the environment by utilizing their cars less.
We should create a system that will allow mass transport within the tricounty area with strong consideration to expand into the Ann Arbor region. This will encourage businesses as well as people to locate here.
I am not necessarily against it, but I would like more information on the pros and cons from all interested parties. After that, I could make a final decision.
Yes.
I would really love to see that open carry be outlawed in our schools. I don't know how much can be done at the county level on stopping this, however. I do know, as a former teacher, that this is disruptive to education and needlessly frightens children.
I think that the county should continue to support Oakland Schools. They are instrumental in coordinating education for all the children of our county. They provide much needed education and in servicing to help the teachers deliver a quality product.
Oakland County should continue to monitor the bridges and roads to be certain that they are structurally safe. We should search for cost effective ways to maintain and rebuild our roads. This not only helps our citizens to transport from one place to another, but it makes our area more attractive to businesses looking to locate in our region.
Our county should share its knowledge and expertise on how to enhance the financial situations of struggling cities. They should aid them on the best cost effective methods on how to deliver a quality product on a slim budget.
Mental and physical health services are very important. i would also like to see that department aid in the regular testing of water in public places particularly schools in order to protect the health of our children. In the area of mental health, I would like our citizens to be provided with low cost ways to get the help that they need. This includes substance abuse problems. I believe that we would have less problems with homelessness if we could provide the services that this segment of the population needs.
Our biggest concerns are that the needs of our citizens are greater than the money that is available. I would love to collaborate and brainstorm with other county commissioners as well as county departments on how we can best meet the needs of the people of this county on a constrained budget.
I believe that the whole world is a village. I think that we need to try to do our share in helping people that are in need. We cannot turn our backs on people that have nowhere to turn.
I would love to look into the concept of small houses to see if it is feasible to help homeless residents. I feel that it is very important that we make sure every citizen in Oakland County have a roof over their heads and their basic needs met. We should help food pantries and have emergency funds available for people who have fallen on hard times. I would also like to see free breakfast provided to children over the summer months. They are provided with this during school days, but I often wonder what they do when school is not in session.
I would like to see training provided to our citizens so that they can obtain viable employment. We could work in conjunction with Oakland Community College in order to provide a cost effective way to develop our workforce.
Yes. I will support my party's nominee and would be happy to appear at campaign events.
No, and I was a single parent for most of my children's lives. I attended college full time and worked full time while I raised them.
No

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