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The head of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners resigned his position, he said Wednesday night, in a move that allows him to seek to replace the late L. Brooks Patterson as county executive.

Chairman David Woodward, a Democrat, said he stepped down in order to apply to fill the remainder of Patterson's term, which ends in December 2020.

State law governing the appointment process prohibits a sitting county commissioner from being appointed executive.

"I believe that I have the county experience, the leadership, and the proven record of getting things done for working families in Oakland County," said Woodward, who became chairman in January and represented the 19th county commission district that includes Berkley and most of Royal Oak. "I'm the strongest to be ready on Day One to help lead our county."

Woodward was elected to the commission in 2004.

Commissioner Marcia Gershenson, D-Bloomfield Township, will take over as acting board chair, according to an email from the board of commissioners and the county's website. 

The board is slated to appoint a successor within 30 days to serve for the remainder of Woodward’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2020. If the board does not make an appointment, a special election will be held. 

As with Woodward, the board must appoint someone for the remainder of Patterson’s term within 30 days of the vacancy. If it fails to name a replacement, Chief Deputy Executive Gerald Poisson, who has been sworn in to run the county after Patterson's death Saturday at age 80, will serve until a special election is held, county officials said.

A special meeting scheduled for Thursday to consider an interim replacement was cancelled Wednesday. A vote on the appointment could be considered during the board’s next meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 15, county officials said.  

Before that meeting, the board will accept applications for the county executive spot. Applications will be available online at www.oakgov.com/boc starting Thursday, according to an email from the board. The deadline to submit applications is noon Tuesday.

Woodward and county Treasurer Andy Meisner are running for the Democratic Party's nomination for county executive in 2020. Meisner had called for the commission to hold off on a decision to appoint Patterson's successor, urging more transparency and public input, including a countywide call for applications and public interviews.

"I'm feeling more strongly that the voters, not the politicians, should make this decision," Meisner said Wednesday night.

Woodward’s departure leaves a split Republican and Democratic board.

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