Patterson seeks record 7th term as executive

Last week, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson officially announced his intention to seek re-election for the seat he was first elected to in 1992.

Patterson filed paperwork with the Oakland County Clerk that places his name before the voters as a candidate for the county’s top elected position. He is seeking a seventh four-year term.

“I think Oakland County residents know how much I have enjoyed representing and fighting for them over the years and I look forward to fighting for them for four more years,” Patterson said.

Oakland County has flourished under Patterson leadership. He presides over an $826 million annual budget and a county workforce of nearly 4,300 full- and part-time employees. Through the Emerging Sectors® business attraction strategy, the county’s economy is transitioning from manufacturing-based to knowledge-based. Since its inception in 2004, the program has generated nearly $3.5 billion of total investment and created and retained a total of 62,000 jobs.

Significantly, the county has fully funded employee pension and health care for its retirees. These so-called legacy costs are causing significant financial challenges in other areas of the state and across the country.

“We were the first in the nation to pay them off,” Patterson said.

On Patterson’s watch the county earned and has maintained its AAA bond rating since 1998, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in interest costs on capital projects. His implementation of long-range forecasting and a rolling three-year budgeting processes – the first of its kind in the United States – has set the standard for county governments in America.

“Moody’s Investor Services – one of the most respected bond rating agencies in the country – said Oakland County was the best managed county in the United States,” Patterson said. “Our
excellence in budgeting and our embracing of the knowledge-based economy has placed us in a national leadership role.”

Under Patterson, the county has consistently been ranked among the most digitally advanced counties by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties. In 2014, the Center for Digital Government said Oakland County had the best county government website in the United States.

Other Patterson initiatives include:

Medical Main Street®—With well over 110,000 jobs, health care and life sciences is the largest sector in the county. Medical Main Street markets this burgeoning sector and the county as a destination for world-class health care and medical device manufacturing. More individuals work in health care, life science research, and medical device manufacturing in the Oakland County region than the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic areas combined. Since its inception, 49 Medical Main Street companies have invested nearly $1 billion creating more than 5,800 jobs and retaining about 2,400.

Tech 248™—Harnessing the power of more than 2,000 technology companies in Oakland County, Patterson launched Tech 248 to attract investment from around the world in the fastest growing and second largest sector. Tech 248 helps tech companies collaborate and attract, develop and retain talent while promoting Oakland County as a global technology hub.

Automation Alley®—Patterson launched Automation Alley – a consortium of high tech companies, government entities and educational institutions – in 1997 to compete with Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128 and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Automation Alley has more than 1,000 members spanning eight counties. Southeast Michigan has the highest number of advanced automotive industry jobs in the U.S.

Global Oakland—Oakland County is home to over 1,050 foreign firms from 39 countries, giving the county’s business community an international diversity that few states can match. It is ranked 13th nationally in total exports, with its businesses producing $14.5 billion in merchandise exports.

Cloud Computing—Oakland County is positioning its IT applications in the cloud so that local governments can use them on an as-needed basis. Through its G2G Cloud Solutions and G2G Market Place, Oakland County is enabling other governments to improve services while reducing costs to taxpayers throughout Michigan. The county has been providing technologies to governments within the region for years.

Redefining Retirement—In 1994, Patterson moved county employees from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan, much like a private-sector 401(k). The old plan is fully funded for those who remain in that retirement system. That means no more Oakland County general fund dollars are paying for the pension plan. Since the switch, taxpayers have saved $100 million.