Livingston residents spend a lot of time on the road: nearly 70 percent of us commute outside the county to work -- yet we have the highest percentage of poorly-rated roads in the southeast Michigan area, according to state-supplied data. In the past 5 years, the percentage of lane-miles in poor condition has risen 18 points to just over 50% in Livingston County -- a higher percentage than Wayne County.
I have presented a plan to make real progress in fixing our county roads without raising your taxes. By allocating a $10 million portion of a $42 million idle county slush fund known as the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund, we can put existing tax dollars to work to fix a problem that frustrates all of us.
My plan would give $5 million to the Livingston County Road Commission, and the other
half would be reserved for a matching program with township and city governments. Because of our current board's lack of vision and misplaced priorities, townships and municipalities have had to choose between passing road millages and special assessments or watch the roads crumble since the county refuses to take financial responsibility for the roads it is legally required to maintain. This unfair shifting of the cost burden onto our local, smaller governments must stop. It's time the county embraced a fiscally responsible way for contributing to our road repair and replacement, to make us safer and increase our economic development potential.
We have an opioid epidemic in our community that is killing our friends and neighbors, destroying families, and creating immense socio-economic costs. Yet the county board has been sluggish in taking the lead to address this crisis.
Disturbing data trends that began over a decade ago show that Livingston County was #4 among Michigan's most populous counties for the number of opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2014, and that Livingston County had among the highest rates in the state for opioid-related deaths between 1999-2015. In 2017, there were eighty-nine 911 calls for law enforcement that were opioid-related; of those calls, 26 percent resulted in death.
If elected I will call for an official County Opiate Action Plan that collaborates with stakeholders from across the county and the region at large, gathering input from experts -- as well as those in recovery and their families -- to develop specific, targeted actions we can take as a community to reach an overall set of goals in battling the opioid epidemic. Furthermore, I will support funding those initiatives when necessary.
This is something the county should have taken the lead on a decade ago when the data started to show how bad this public health crisis was becoming. We cannot afford to wait another decade or longer before our officials decide it's time to wake up and take action.
I will also support the county joining the nation-wide multi-district litigation (MDL) that takes irresponsible opioid manufacturers and distributors to court as a way for the community to recoup costs that these companies have imposed on us in the name of turning a profit. Several Michigan counties have already signed on as plaintiffs, and it's time Livingston join the fight for the sake of our community.
My opponent on the board tried and failed to use taxpayer-funded, public resources to push his personal agenda against marijuana decriminalization rather than let voters freely decide as they are set to do on the ballot this year Nov. 6.
The county attorney advised the board that this was probably a violation of campaign finance law, but that didn't stop my opponent from trying to push a vote to officially oppose the ballot measure. Respect and adherence to the law should be the minimal requirement for anyone sitting on the county board; our community deserves better.
Jailing people for marijuana possession is a waste of taxpayer money, and it can ruin a person's life. Decriminalization of marijuana opens the door to bring more tax revenue into our community to fight the real killer: opioids.
I support allowing voters to have their say on this issue without government interference, and if legalization passes I will work to support a positive transition in this community that recognizes the will of the people
Honey Creekshed, Pinckney (source: Huron River Watershed Council )
One of the first things I did when I decided to run for County Commission was to go on a tour of the ETP Rover Natural Gas Pipeline site in Pinckney. Residents there felt helpless in the face of serious safety and environmental contamination risks, eminent domain seizures, and threats to their property values, particularly because there was no real emergency plan. Needless to say, their County Board wasn't fighting for them.
Commissioners including my opponent embraced Rover, and ignored the pleas of their constituents. This despite the fact that our most recent draft of our County Master Plan even identifies Rover as being unsafe.The question is: Why didn't our County Commissioners fight hard against a project they know is unsafe for our community?
We cannot afford leadership that takes a passive stance when it comes to protecting the only ecosystem we have. And it's not just the Rover Pipeline. Recent news stories about PFAS contaminants in the Huron River waterways and other potential contamination sites in Livingston County make clear what happens when leadership doesn't act quickly to protect our natural resources. We allowed chemical pollution of our waterways for decades, and now it will take decades more to get rid of these PFAS pollutants. We can catch fish in our beautiful waterways and lakes, but according to the MDEQ it's not safe to eat them.
Something is terribly wrong.
As your County Commissioner, I pledge to be a committed environmental steward. That includes listening to residents who are being affected by environmental issues, and prioritizing their safety above pipeline company and other corporate profits.
Environmental stewardship isn't just about warding off the harm we've done to our ecosystem already - it's also about planning for the future. We do that by focusing on projects that help preserve the rural heritage of Livingston County by maintaining and enlarging thriving parks and other green spaces.
For example, I will support using idle County funds to help the Livingston Land Conservancy buy up vacant County lands, including the former Marion Oaks golf course on D-19, which our community could develop into a park or other 'green space' for people to come together and enjoy.