Public safety 'my No. 1 priority,' Oakland Co. sheriff says in not seeking county exec spot

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard ended months of speculation Tuesday night when he announced he would not seek the position of Oakland County Executive.

Bouchard’s name has been floated within and outside the Oakland County Republican Party as a strong candidate for the job following the death earlier this year of longtime County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a fellow Republican.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard

David Coulter, a Democrat appointed as interim county executive by the county Board of Commissioners to fill out the remainder of Patterson’s term, announced on Oct. 31 that he plans to run for an elected term. County Treasurer Andy Meisner, also a Democrat, also has announced his intentions to also seek the job.

The election for county executive is in November 2020.

Bouchard, sheriff since 1999 and the county’s top vote getter in recent elections, said while he appreciates the encouragement many have given him to run for county executive, he believes it is critical to stay focused on leading the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

“My focus, first and foremost, has always been to keep Oakland County safe,” said Bouchard in a news release. “The Sheriff’s Office has had a number of senior leaders retire and will be experiencing additional retirements soon. I feel it is incumbent upon myself to ensure stability in the agency and to focus my efforts in managing the agency into a new era of leadership. Enhancing public safety for the entire county has always been my number one priority and it remains so. It is my honor to serve side by side with the men and women of the Sheriff's Office in protecting Oakland County.”

Bouchard was named the National Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriffs’ Association in 2016 and was named a ‘Master Sheriff’ by the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association in 2019. Prior to becoming the sheriff in Oakland County, he served in the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate, where he rose to the position of Senate Majority Floor Leader. Before being elected to the Legislature, he worked as a law enforcement officer in Oakland County for 12 years.

"We're excited to continue to have Mike Bouchard as our sheriff, and I know that this was a decision that he had to consider with a great deal of forethought because it was important for him to make sure the sheriff's office was run properly and with integrity and transparency," said Rocky Raczkowski, chairman of the Oakland County Republican Party.

Bouchard has widespread appeal among Republicans, Democrats and independents, he said Tuesday night. "He’s truly the type of leader that transcends politics."

As for who the party sees as potential candidates now that Bouchard has stepped down, Raczkowski said: "We have other candidates that will be popping up shortly."

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Detroit News Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed to this report.