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Oakland County executive gives upbeat, emotional State of the County address

via oakgov.com

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson struck a lot of triumphant notes during a sometimes-emotional state of the county speech Thursday night.

Patterson has been at the helm in Oakland County for decades.

Patterson said his administration’s efforts to diversify the county’s economy, attract foreign investment, and reduce government costs have produced results—even during the roughest periods of the economic downturn.

Patterson said he wants to focus on Oakland County’s future as a node in the global “knowledge-based” economy.

But he also touted a new county effort to match up people looking for training with area technical schools.

“Unfortunately, skilled trades are oftentimes overlooked as a career option,” said Patterson. “The result is that we are starting to feel the pinch of meeting the demand for these very well-paid positions.”

Patterson also touted some of his other signature initiatives, such as the Emerging Sectors program and an effort to implement Chinese language and culture programs in all Oakland County schools.

But Patterson’s speech this year was as much about his personal story as his time in office.

He was in a serious car accident last year that’s left him in a wheelchair. But with two others supporting him, Patterson walked to a seat onstage—and with his voice shaking, made a pledge to the audience.

“At the next state of the county address, I will walk out here, and I will stand behind the podium,” said Patterson, as the audience applauded.

Patterson did get some immediate pushback from Oakland County Democrats, though.

They ‘ve put forth a “New War Forward” plan that focuses on local businesses and the “Main Street economy.”

They also want to address the growing issue of child poverty in Oakland County.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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