For the first time in 27 years, Oakland County has a Democrat serving as its County Executive.
On Monday, Dave Coulter tendered his resignation as mayor of Ferndale. A few hours later, he was sworn in to serve out the remainder of the late L. Brooks Patterson’s term, which runs through the end of 2020.
Coulter’s appointment capped several weeks of chaotic political jockeying after Patterson’s death in early August. He says he was “pretty surprised” when a slim Democratic majority on the Oakland County Commission selected him for the role of executive, particularly considering it wasn’t a position that he had campaigned for.
Although Coulter was gearing up to run for state legislature before this new appointment, he says that his “Number One priority and commitment” at the moment is to serve out his new role with Oakland County.
In his first few weeks as county executive, Coulter’s main tasks will include finalizing the county budget by the end of September and assembling a leadership team that “reflects the diversity of Oakland County.”
Coulter says that he’s in favor of getting “more involved” in regional issues like transportation, a topic that his predecessor fervently opposed.
In November 2016, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) proposal, which would have further developed and connected public transit across Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Macomb Counties, failed to pass in Oakland County by 1,109 votes.
If an improved, “credible” RTA proposal that voters “trust and understand” makes its way to the 2020 ballot, Coulter believes there’s a “decent chance” that it could pass in Oakland County.
Coulter says that by the end of his term next year, he hopes to continue the legacy of “good government and outstanding financial practices” that Patterson left behind, make sure that Oakland’s most vulnerable populations are being served by the local health department, and emphasize economic development.
“I love emerging sectors and Automation Alley, and that’s all going to stay,” Coulter said. “But I want to make sure we’re doing enough to help entrepreneurs and small businesses and woman and minority-owned businesses so that everyone in Oakland County feels like they can participate in the economic success of the county.”
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas.