Tri-County Executives Share Top Priorities
Collectively, the leadership of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties represent more than 3.9 million people or approximately 39% of Michigan’s entire population. That means the performance of the tri-counties goes a long way to determine the prosperity and growth of the entire state.
With voters re-electing both Warren C. Evans in Wayne County (3rd term), and Mark Hackel in Macomb (4th term), and Oakland’s Dave Coulter settling into the third year of his first full four-year term – the tri-counties continue to have strong continuity in its executive leadership. The three county executives shared their top priorities and election analysis with the Detroiter.
What is your top economic development priority in the year ahead?
COULTER: Working with the 2,600 small and medium-sized manufacturers in Oakland County to make the transition to advanced manufacturing is critical to our efforts to prepare manufacturers for new opportunities in industries like defense, aerospace and the electrification of the auto industry. Also making sure our residents have the skills, education and training they need to succeed in today’s
EVANS: My top priority for 2023 is strengthening the county by protecting residents from the consequences of a global pandemic and potential consequences of inflation and a recession. We achieve this by developing our workforce, strengthening our infrastructure, and consolidating county assets. It is vital that we continue to invest in our small businesses, access to healthcare, and stronger education.
HACKEL: Like the state and our region, we are all intent on maintaining our position as global leaders in mobility. We are committed to working with our industry partners to create a mobility ecosystem that is fueled by future tech and talent. From developing a new vision for the Ford Romeo Engine Plant to expanding the intelligent transportation system on our roadways, Macomb County is focused on helping this industry thrive.
How do you think having a democratic-majority legislature and house speaker from the Detroit region impacts advancing county and regional priorities?
COULTER: There is renewed optimism, new direction, and a fresh sense of purpose in Lansing with the new leadership. It’s exciting to have strong partners in Lansing, from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the new legislative leadership and the county’s delegation in Lansing. I have high hopes for bipartisan results for our residents this legislative term, ranging from investments in workers, students and infrastructure — including public transit– and common-sense initiatives to reduce gun violence.
EVANS: This is the first time in 40 years that we have seen a Democratic-majority legislature. It is my hope that as a result it will be recognized that not only does Wayne County make up 20% of the state’s population but more than 20% of the state’s need.
It is time that the resources follow the need. Wayne County has continuously been shortchanged, barely receiving 80 cents to every dollar. Having a Democratic-majority legislature and House Speaker from our region, restores hope that the disparities that historically exist within our county, will finally receive some much-deserved attention and reprieve.
HACKEL: In Macomb County we have always taken a partnership driven approach to engaging the legislature. By working at all levels of government, regardless of partisanship, we have been successful in creating projects and initiatives that have had an impact beyond our boundaries. With the newly seated legislature it is our responsibility to engage Speaker Tate and our local representatives to create opportunities to advance our state.
What are you most excited about in terms of what lies ahead for your county?
COULTER: The continued interest from companies involved in advanced manufacturing and EV development that are deciding to expand or move to Michigan and Oakland County. We’re now home to the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and we have had more than 40 companies, most in advanced manufacturing, invest in Oakland County last year. That interest is continuing.
EVANS: We must place our focus on providing healthcare and education that is sustainable and not just playing catch up. We must invest in our workforce, placing an emphasis on both recruitment and retention. It is imperative that we create a culture that improves the way of life for our employees and ultimately improves the way of life for our residents through enhanced initiates and services. I am striving for Wayne County to become an employer of choice by investing in workforce development initiatives, providing wage increases, collaborating with other elected officials and developing
comprehensive plans to address the burden currently caused by the abundance of job vacancies.
HACKEL: We are focused on transforming criminal justice in Macomb County. Leveraging federal and state funds, our plan is to develop a new central intake and assessment facility which will provide our public safety and mental health professionals with the resources they need. This modern facility will lead to better outcomes for those who come in contact with the criminal justice system, and ensure that public safety remains a top priority.
What message do you think voters sent in the 2022 general election?
COULTER: The voters showed they want us to work together on concrete plans for the issues that affect them in their daily lives. And through the candidates and ballot measures they supported, voters spoke clearly about their priorities, including defending reproductive rights, showing faith in democracy and the integrity of elections, and supporting widespread access to public transportation in Oakland County.
EVANS: In Michigan I believe the message was clear, women want the right to choose what happens with their bodies. All voters want leadership that is unified, trustworthy, competent and capable. They want a government that prioritizes and takes care of the people. For as long as I have been in public service, I have always said that public service is simply about serving the people, voters want more public servants who understand this concept.
HACKEL: Often times we hear people from both parties saying that they are willing to reach across the aisle. I don’t believe that’s enough. It’s time to stop reaching across the aisle and get in the aisle, because there isn’t a problem we can’t solve if we would just come together to solve it. I think that’s what voters indicated they want.