Your Voice: County executive’s ‘out of touch’

To the editor:

Tonight, we won our primary election and earned the Democratic nomination for Oakland County Executive. I am honored to have received so much support from so many people. I want to thank my primary opponent, Mark Danowski, for running a great race on the issues. He has congratulated me, and I am grateful for his endorsement and words of encouragement for the general election.

Now we are focused on November. Brooks Patterson, in office for 40 years, has become increasingly out of touch over the last ten years with the problems facing Oakland County. In the last decade alone, poverty across Oakland County has increased over 76 percent, we have lost 16 percent of our jobs, workers are earning less, and homelessness is on the rise. We have a waiting list of over 500 seniors who need services and we have lost our place as the wealthiest county in Michigan.

Our current Executive has recently taken a series of false, insensitive and frankly embarrassing positions. Last November, Mr. Patterson made false and racist comments about a much-needed economic development project in Pontiac. He called the project “Syrian Refugee Village” and “an immediate threat of imminent danger”. His characterization of this private residential development was totally inaccurate and out of line.

The project would convert an empty school building into a vibrant community center and build 120 housing units for people who are already in Michigan. It will bolster the tax base of Pontiac and Oakland County.

In January, our Executive endorsed Donald Trump’s unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the country. In early June, shortly after Mr. Trump said that a federal judge born in Indiana could not judge impartially because of his Mexican heritage, Patterson enthusiastically endorsed Trump for president. After Trump’s recent attacks on the Gold Star parents of fallen Muslim-American soldier Humayun Khan, I would have expected our County Executive to finally stand up for decency, show compassion and a deep appreciation for our fallen soldiers and the families they leave behind, and denounce Donald Trump. But he has not. Instead, he still wishes to campaign for Trump. Our great and diverse county deserves better.

Fortunately, we might just have been spared yet another embarrassment. I am grateful that strong pressure from residents and community leaders, including myself, has forced my opponent today to drop his lastminute objections to the Regional Transit Authority millage and let the people decide its fate. I call on Mr. Patterson to live up to that tentative agreement on Thursday and put this important transit plan on the ballot. As your next County Executive, I will fully and cooperatively implement the regional transit plan should the voters approve it.

I also intend to fully support the millage, so workers can get to Oakland County jobs, seniors can age in place with dignity and disabled residents can live as independently as possible. Approval of the millage will also spur economic development around growing transit hubs and attract young talented millennials back home from the bustling cities to which they have moved. It means investing in our older cities, villages and towns that are the engines of creativity and small business development and growth.

Detroit Mayor Duggan and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans have set the table for a new era of prosperity in their respective jurisdictions. It is long past time for us in Oakland County to work together with our neighbors and share in our region’s rich promise.

Vicki Barnett
Farmington Hills