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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: 

International Bridge

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." 

Business incubator

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. 

County management

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.

FHVoice October 09, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Todd Stearn is correct to point out Dwyer's dodging - he wants to be on both sides of an issue at the same time. He voted against the bridge, but now claims he supports it? Another Dwyer Dodge, just like the one where he went along with the other GOP commissioners and Brooks to change the rules about who controls reapportionment. In his silence, Dwyer was complicit in the GOP power grab that denied the citizens of Oakland County a say in whether or not the people wanted the number of commissioners reduced. When Macomb County restructured, it put the proposal before its citizens! The Brooks power grab allowed current Republican commissioners to redraw their own districts supposedly to save money; they could have saved more by Brooks eliminating one or two of his multitude of Deputy Executives. The way Farmington Hills was carved up was designed to give Dwyer a "safe" seat, so he sat quietly and reaped the benefit. Dwyer claimed Democrats proposed amendments to the county budget at the last minute, after a committee worked four months on the proposal - without the input of Democrats. Their proposals would not have prevented a balanced budget. The Dictator Brooks crushes political opposition and rewards cronies. And Dwyer votes in lock step with him. It is time to let Dwyer enjoy the multiple (3) retirements the citizens of Michigan will be paying him. New, responsible and responsive leadership with new ideas to move the county forward. Stearn for the 14th.

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