Beverly Hills resident and former city council president Todd Stearn says he's running for a seat on the Oakland County board of commissioners to give others what he didn't get: help opening his small business.
Stearn, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Republican Bill Dwyer of Farmington Hills in the newly-drawn district that includes Farmington, a large, diagonal swath of Farmington Hills, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills and a small portion of Southfield. Beverly Hills' former county commissioner, Marcia Gershenson, is running in a new district.
"When I heard Bill Dwyer was going to be the incumbent, I got concerned because of his voting record and lack of leadership," Stearn said. "I was worried he was going to ignore certain communities in favor of Farmington and Farmington Hills, which is his home."
Stearn said his primary concern, though, is "economic development and job creation". As a small business owner, he wanted to expand his business and hoped that a downpayment, good credit and potential tenants would have been enough to allow him to buy property. After being turned down by a bank, he looked to Oakland County programs for help and found none.
"I realized Oakland County is not doing enough to help small business," Stearn said.
He also believes the county can do more to stabilize property values, like exploring an investment land bank system proposed by county treasurer Andy Meisner. According to Meisner's website, the county could use federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed and blighted properties.
Stearn said he would also support more money for roads and would aim to create a county-wide "senior coordinating council" that provides services to help seniors stay independent. He said he is also committed to protecting women's rights and reproductive rights.
"The Oakland County commission has oversight of the county health department," he said. "There was an emergency contraception resolution, so this stuff does come up."
Though the county board is politically divided, Stearn said, he demonstrated his ability to work across the aisle while on Beverly Hills city council. He said his proudest endorsement is from Republican Roseanne Koss, who was president pro tem of the council while he was president.
"We learned to work together," he said. Stearn also noted he has met with Republican county executive L. Brooks Patterson, to establish a rapport.
"It's not about politics," he said. "It's about doing what's best for Oakland County residents."
Learn more about Stearn on his campaign website: todd2012.com.