Farmington Hills Candidate Forum: County Commission District 14
Democratic challenger Todd Stearn presses incumbent commissioner Bill Dwyer (R-14th District) on the International Bridge, business incubators and other issues.
This is one in a series of articles on a three-hour candidate forum held Tuesday at Farmington Hills city hall. The event was hosted by the Council of Homeowners Associations, the League of Women Voters Oakland Area (LWVOA) and the City of Farmington Hills Committee to Increase Voter Participation.
One thing was clear in the exchange between candidates for the Oakland County Commission 14th District seat Tuesday: Democrat Todd Stearn and incumbent Republican Bill Dwyer don't see eye to eye on much of anything.
The new 14th District includes portions of Farmington Hills, all of Farmington, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills and a small portion of Southfield.
Stearn attacked Dwyer's voting record at virtually every turn. Here are recaps of a few exchanges:
Stearn said he "completely and fully" supports Gov. Rick Sndyer's plan to leverage $550 million from Canada to pick up federal matching funds for the project. He said a University of Michigan study has shown the bridge will be "great for everybody" and noted Dwyer was among Republicans on the Oakland County Commission who voted to not support the bridge.
Dwyer said he does support Snyder and the bridge, which he said will bring jobs to Michigan. He said at the time the non-binding resolution was considered, "There was confusion about what the governor was doing."
Stearn jabbed at Dwyer over the Republican majority's vote on a series of amendments put forward by Democrats that would have expanded the county's microloan program, which provides small loans to businesses, and creation of a business incubator program.
But Dwyer said the county already has an incubator program that is "very, very effective". He said Democrats proposed 20 amendments to the county budget at the last minute, after a committee worked four months on the proposal, and they presented no documentation. "The amendments would have cost the county millions of dollars," he said, adding Republicans decided to keep the millage low and keep a balanced budget.
Dwyer said the county is run very efficiently and pointed out that employees have taken pay cuts and pay increased costs for health care. He said commissioners voted employees a $500 one-time bonus as a "thank you".
Stearn wondered why the county is sitting on a $200 million "savings account". "I think there could be a way to spend that money on roads ... and not giving $1.6 million away to political appointees and elected officials," he said.
The forum will be rebroadcast on City of Farmington Hills channel 8 for Bright House cable customers. Learn more at swoccstudios.com.