Thursday, August 28, 2008

Troy Eccentric Echoes My Sentiments

As I wrote last week, the appointment of Glenn Clark to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners could have a backlash effect on Republicans in November. This kind of power politics doesn't sit well with voters. This article is from the Troy Eccentric.

GOP power play could result in a backlash

August 28, 2008

Democrats are crying foul over last week's appointment of 9th Congressional District GOP Chairman Glenn Clark to fill the unexpired term of George Suarez on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

Suarez, a Madison Heights Democrat, died Aug. 12 after battling cancer. Clark, his replacement, is considered an ultra-conservative Republican.

The appointment of Clark is a perfect example of power politics at work, and it should not have come as any surprise to the Democrats on the board.

Before Suarez's death, the Republicans held a slim, 13-12 margin on the board. They've been looking at the November election, hoping to increase that lead.

Even with Suarez's seat open - he did not run for re-election, and the race drew hopefuls from both parties - Republicans face a battle in his 24th District. A deeply entrenched Democrat in Madison Heights politics, Gary McGillivray, is running against lesser-known Republican Dan Milz.

The move is a clear-cut attempt to elect Milz, according to the board's Democratic caucus chair, David Coulter of Ferndale, who represents the 25th District. Coulter believes Republicans hope that, by having one of their own in the seat, voters may be more inclined to vote Republican in November.

That seems like a stretch. While Troy has voted Republican, some view the city as having a more "purple" tinge, meaning a growing number are voting Democratic. But southeastern Troy is only a small part of the district, the bulk of which is in heavily Democratic Madison Heights, with a smaller portion in Royal Oak.

What seems more significant is that, with the appointment, the Republicans now have a 14-11 majority on the board. Clearly any disputes or controversial legislation on the board will have a one-sided resolution, namely one favored by the Republicans.

What does that translate into in real terms?

Nominating Clark unexpectedly on Aug. 21 was an equally conservative Republican, Bob Gosselin. Both are Troy residents and both wield considerable political influence in Oakland County.

They likely will join forces in any spending and so-called family values issues brought before the board.

But there are other concerns as well. According to Coulter, the appointment was not on the agenda, and no candidates for the position were interviewed.

While it may not have been a violation of the state's Open Meetings Act, it's no way to engender the cooperation needed to move the region forward.

Keeping the seat vacant until it expires on Dec. 31 would have been a mistake, but so was the process used to fill it. Republicans could see a backlash because of it.

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