Local issues, commissioner seats at stake in Oakland County primaries

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Voters in 22 Oakland County communities will consider a variety of local issues Tuesday and choose between several primary candidates seeking November ballot slots.

County commission candidates are also vying to get on the November ballot.

Voters in villages, cities and townships across the county will consider local issues, with public safety and fire millages topping the list, followed by library decisions in seven communities. Other local proposals concern schools, streets, council pay, transportation services and marijuana sales.

White Lake Township voters will be asked to decide police and fire millage renewals and a library millage.

Ballot issues include:

  • A South Lyon $18,465,000 street improvement bond proposal.
  • An Ortonville ordinance to permit a number of adult-use marijuana operations.
  • A proposed Milford village charter amendment to pay each council member and president $50 per meeting to a maximum of $1,500 per year. Pay is currently $7.50 a month or $375 a year.
  • A Royal Oak Township proposal that would authorize an unlimited number of marijuana establishments on Royal Oak Township parcels larger than five acres with a building continuously occupied for five years. 

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners currently has 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans on the board representing 21 districts. The Democratic majority contrasts with years of GOP dominance on the Oakland County board.

Every 10 years the commissioner districts are redrawn to represent changing populations. The redistricting agreement generally favors the dominant party but can result with some commissioners, like Robert Hoffman, R-Highland Township, being pitted against longtime colleague Eileen Kowall, R-White Lake Township, in the primary after the merger of their respective districts means only one can serve.

“The move now is to shrink the board down to 19 commissioners with an 11-8 majority of them Democrats,” said Mike Gingell, R-Lake Orion. “We (Republicans) did it 10 years ago, and I guess what goes around comes around and it’s their turn now.”

Gingell, vice chair of the Republican minority caucus and a board member for 16 years,  said while there has always been partisan infighting, he is dismayed at seeing “Republicans eating themselves.”

He noted in seven commissioner districts — including his own — there is more than one Republican running in the primary for two-year terms.

“There is something called the ‘Dream Team for Patriots” that is the furthest of the right side (of the Republican party),” Gingell said. “They don’t feel established commissioners, like myself, have done enough. They want us out and their Republican candidates running in this November election. So they are supporting candidates in some districts they hope to eventually win.

In Addison Township, for example, three Republicans are vying for the treasurer’s job. In Independence Township, no Democrat is running for the supervisor post, but voters will have a choice from a field of four Republicans seeking the job.

In nonpartisan contests, two candidates, Diana Lynn McClain and Brenda Richard, are challenging incumbent Michelle Friedman Appel for Oak Park 45th District judge. In Troy, incumbent Kirsten Nielsen Hartig is being challenged by Mike Bosnic and Tonya Clawson Goetz.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319