Government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. That’s what Abraham Lincoln called the American experience in his Gettysburg Address. For me, this is the essence of democracy. We participate by voting to choose our leaders. We serve in countless ways, both official and unofficial throughout our communities. For those of us who have been honored to be chosen for elected office, the responsibility includes serving all of those we represent, as we are careful fiduciaries of our taxpayer funded institutions. We should be prudent with our tax dollars. We should provide excellent services, and minimize waste. We should invest in our future, through strategic focus on retaining and growing businesses, schools, and people.
I currently serve as Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners Finance Committee. We oversee a $1 Billion budget in partnership with the Executive Branch as well as the other Elected officials – Treasurer, Water Resources Commissioner, Sheriff, County Clerk. It’s important that we manage our resources to maximize benefits that accrue to the entire County. Public Safety, Recreation, Public Health, Economic Development, the Courts, all in support of Oakland County and her residents and businesses, are managed through our annual budget. The national financial ratings agencies have awarded Oakland County their highest bond rating, AAA, again this year. This allows Oakland County to borrow at very low interest rates, but more importantly, it shows that the top investment institutions see us as very well managed.
You will hear some folks say we should always be trying to cut taxes and “run the government like a business”. I strongly disagree. Business exists to make a profit, Government exists to serve and protect all of us. Therefore,
I’m a believer that good government plays a role in making all of our lives better, safer, and happier. That takes money, no question about it. It’s our job to give the taxpayers all of the good government they are willing to pay for, and to make sure their taxes get a great return on investment. What does that mean for you? It means quality roads, it means excellent public services and economic opportunities for everyone. It means safe communities, excellent schools, and let’s not forget about the workers who make our lives better every day taking care of our infrastructure. I promise to work every day to make sure the taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
Pulling invasive garlic mustard at Lakeshore Park with Representative Kelly Breen
The Environment and Climate Change
Three accomplishments illustrate my commitment to addressing climate change.
1) Through the distribution of 5000 Oak tree seedlings in 2020, followed by sponsorship of the OAKSTEM tree planting program that planted over 1350 trees in SE Oakland County this year, I’m committed to establishing green infrastructure. http://legalnews.com/oakland/1510591/
2) I sponsored the County Sustainability Plan, and creation of the Office of Sustainability. We have committed $1M to examine all aspects of our current land use, energy policy, building utilization, waste management, and other future needs to drive the County toward a carbon neutral campus and operation by 2050.
3) Equity in County Park funding. In 2020, the voters of Oakland County told us that they valued their Parks and overwhelmingly approved a 50% increase in the countywide millage, yet most County parks are in northern Oakland County. With this new millage increase, major funding will be targeted to communities that have no County facilities. Novi received $100K this year to match City funding for a new park. This meets our goals to enhance greenspace and trails throughout Oakland County.
Public Transit is on the Ballot in Oakland County
I’m excited about the plan for Public Transit on the ballot in November, and here’s why:
1) All of Oakland County will be included in the proposed transit system, and there will be no swiss-cheese holes like our current Opt-Out system. The existing SMART system will be expanded to include 3 major routes into/out of Novi so workers who need transportation to our retail, restaurant, and hospital/service employment centers can get to work. Students, seniors, and other Novi residents will be able to access public transit to reach destinations all over the region.
2) The millage rate proposed is a very reasonable 0.95 mils. Taxes on the average Novi home are projected to be less than $200 per year. This 10-year millage is important because 10 years gives communities and transit agencies time to raise funds for capital improvements like buses and bus stops to enhance the existing system. A 10-year millage qualifies for Federal matching funds from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, thereby helping bring more funding for improvements to the system.
3) A new feature of this plan is micro-transit and other flexible ride programs. Each community will qualify for funding for transit that fits their community, and they will be able to work with transit agencies of their choice. Today, some rural areas of Oakland County have already created “hybrid” systems that are on-demand, and sometimes fixed route. It depends on the community.