Candidate Spotlight: David Coulter
David Coulter is on the Aug. 4 Democratic Primary ballot as a candidate for the office of Oakland County Executive, an office he has held since Aug. 2019, when he was appointed by a majority vote of county commissioners following the passing of L. Brooks Patterson, who had held the office for nearly three decades.
Prior to assuming the office of Oakland County Executive, Coulter had been mayor of Ferndale since 2011. From 2002 through 2010, Coulter represented Southeast Oakland County on the Board of Commissioners. Coulter also has served as the director of External Relations for the Children’s Foundation of Michigan (formerly the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation) and executive director of the Michigan AIDS Fund.
Coulter received an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and an Executive Education Certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In the days leading up to the Aug. 4 primary, Coulter responded to questions submitted to his campaign team from Michigan Chronicle contributor Scott Talley.
What does David Coulter and his administration stand for?
“I am a collaborative person by nature, and have always put people and communities first. It is very difficult to be an effective public servant if you fail to bring people together to do the work that needs to be done. I believe my record of accomplishments at the county demonstrates I can do this successfully.”
What is David Coulter’s message to Oakland County’s African American community?
“It is the responsibility of government to serve all residents, level the playing field, remove obstacles and create opportunity. For me this starts by being honest about the systemic racism that exists, the disenfranchisement that too many of our residents feel, and the income inequality and wealth gap that is growing, not narrowing. My role as county executive is to bring about change in our culture, our policies and practices, and hold ourselves responsible for the results. I am going to be intentional about evaluating service delivery, hiring and promotion, and procurement practices to ensure equity. I ask that you judge me on my record of accomplishments in office and my leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
And how will David Coulter deliver on his message to Oakland County African American community?
“As county executive, I have a track record of results. I hired the county’s first African American Deputy Executive and the first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. We are expanding health care in our county clinics to include primary care, dental care, family planning and behavioral health services. During the COVID-19 pandemic we acted quickly to expand testing in Southfield, Pontiac and at our churches, senior living facilities and public housing apartments. We also established food assistance, rental assistance and grants for non-profits. We distributed 15,000 reopening kits to small businesses and churches. Now we are focusing economic recovery grants to assist small businesses in communities of color hard hit by the pandemic and hiring five dozen school nurses to help our schools open safely. I will continue to deliver on my vision for a more equitable county—not only with words but with deeds to help make it a reality.”
Candidate Spotlight: Andy Meisner
Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner is on the Aug. 4 Democratic Primary ballot as a candidate for the office of Oakland County Executive. Meisner has served as Oakland County Treasurer since 2009. He also served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. Meisner’s résumé also includes serving as a U.S. Congressional aide, and while working among Congressional staff, Meisner says the late Rep. John Lewis was one of his inspirations. Meisner earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy and is a member of the State Bar of Michigan. On July 27, Meisner responded to questions from Michigan Chronicle contributor Scott Talley during a phone interview.
What does Andy Meisner stand for?
“More than anything I stand for equity and leading by example. In terms of equity I’m very mindful that a zip code in Oakland County dictates a lot about the type of opportunity young people and adults will have for the pursuit of happiness and financial wellness. Regardless of zip code, every Oakland County resident deserves access to opportunities. And when it comes to leading by example, I believe leaders should always take the first cut. That is why during the recession and COVID-19, I was the first to take a pay cut.”
What is Andy Meisner’s message to Oakland County’s African American community?
“My message is that government has failed them. Government has failed in them in the realms of criminal justice, policing, environmental justice, home ownership, entrepreneurship, health care and education. I have a specific agenda targeting the experience of the African American community in Oakland County across each category because I am committed to making things better.
“In the realm of racial justice, I promise to continue being an outspoken voice, including holding the legacy of Brooks Patterson, as well as Donald Trump accountable for their words and behavior. In criminal justice, I laid out a platform for countywide, zero tolerance for police brutality and racism, and for establishing civilian oversight over all of our departments. In the realm of environmental justice, my platform holds companies accountable for environmental damage and for placing polluting facilities disproportionately where the black community lives.
“I also will expand affordable housing, including multifamily affordable housing so more African Americans can live the dream of home ownership, while also creating grant support and a business incubator for Black-owned small businesses.
“In the area of health care, the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on unacceptable disparities that exist for the Black community. The disparities were there before, and they’re with us now, and now is the time to fix the problems, which I’m going to do through greater access to physical health care, and mental health and addiction services. We also will lower prescription drug costs through bulk purchasing countywide.
“I’m also a big believer in education because education allowed me to overcome some challenges I had as a kid, so I want to make sure that every kid regardless of zip code gets an at-bat in life. It means access to high-quality education, including access to high-quality, early-childhood education, because those first eight years can build a foundation for future learning, health, and success in life.
And beyond high school, we want to follow the model of the Kalamazoo Promise by making state public universities, community colleges, or career education available to all of our county high school graduates. As long as our students are willing to work hard and invest in their future, we want to cover that and our students can be debt free—I believe it’s a game changer.”
How will Andy Meisner deliver on his message to Oakland County’s African American community?
“I worked with members of our community for many months to develop this platform, and I will continue an ongoing dialogue to implement these changes and to continue to be informed about the condition of African Americans in Oakland County. Right after George Floyd, we started a bi-weekly virtual town hall where we addressed the critical need for police reform and the mass incarceration of African Americans, along with prevention and policies. And as a member of the State House, I wrote legislation to reform our public mental health system. I will always offer myself as an ally, and draw from the experience of our African American community to help us better understand and root out the poison that is racism and get us moving in a more harmonious direction.”