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Point of View: The Lasting Legacy of Oakland County’s Fearless Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featuring Jim Runestad, Senator (R-MI 15), and Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO, Michigan League for Public Policy 

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THE LEGACY OF L. BROOKS PATTERSON? 

JR: Our first duty as elected officials is to be watchful stewards of the taxpayer dollar. Brooks was a master at maintaining fiscal discipline in county government in both good times and crunch times. He never wavered from his commitment to putting the county’s long-term financial position first. The extremely rare achievement of Oakland’s AAA bond rating during the state’s profound economic swings is a testament to his leadership. 

GJ: Brooks showed that the business community must be a part of economic and social policy in the county and the state. He knew that early on and established that as a precedent with the county executive position. He didn’t always reach across the aisle at the party level, but he always tried to build relationships with local, county, and state elected officials in Oakland County and showed that it was important for everyone to work together for the concerns of our mutual constituents. 

WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS LEARNED FROM HIS TENURE AS A REGIONAL LEADER? 

JR: While Brooks had a colorful personality that sometimes got him into trouble, no one ever questioned his competence as an executive or the quality of the people he selected for his team. He was always looking out to defend Oakland County taxpayers. Brooks was willing to work regionally for the benefit of Southeast Michigan, but those partnerships needed to reflect his business model spend tax dollars efficiently and have zero tolerance for cronyism and corruption in government.   

GJ: His greatest success was his work to position Oakland County as one of the major engines for economic development in the region and state, and in turn, a political force to be reckoned with. But he didn’t adapt to shifting demographics, population and policy changes, and the different needs of county residents. He didn’t recognize that there were a lot of kids and families struggling with poverty and hunger despite living in the wealthiest county in the state. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT OUTSIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY? 

JR: There are many outstanding restaurants in downtown Detroit, but if I had to choose a favorite, I would go with Eataliana Homemade Pasta at the corner of Shelby Road and 24 Mile Road in Shelby Township. They serve the most amazing pasta dishes I have ever tasted. If you have a craving for Italian food, this is the place to dine.   

GJ: There are a lot of great new restaurants in Detroit, but I am still partial to Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine. The food and atmosphere are great, and I love that you can enjoy a delicious dinner, excellent music, and lively salsa dancing (yes, I’ve done it!) in one place. And blatant policy plug: We should all approach political international relations and immigration policy with the same spirit that we try new foods and embrace different cultures in our social lives. 

Jim Runestad is the Republican senator representing Michigan’s 15th District. Gilda Jacobs was the Democratic senator representing Michigan’s 14th District from 2003 to 2010.