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Huntington Woods' Kevin Howley to Run for Oakland County Executive Job

The business veteran, 52, filed his candidacy Thursday and says strategic thinking about the county's budget and working across the aisle will be keys to his campaign.

Huntington Woods resident and business executive Kevin Howley has announced that he will run as a Democrat for the office of Oakland County executive in the Nov. 6 general election.

Howley, 52, filed his candidacy Thursday for the position that has been held since 1992 by Republican L. Brooks Patterson, now in his fifth term.

"I really had gotten very frustrated over the past months, as a citizen," with the partisanship and lack of strategic thinking at the county level, Howley told Berkley Patch on Friday.

While the Ivy League-educated candidate has not previously sought elected office, he did serve as head of the Democratic Party in St. Paul, MN, during the early 1990s, with the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-MN, serving as his mentor. The Farmington Hills native also hasduring his decadeslong career as a business executive.

"Oakland County has a billion-dollar budget and I'm used to dealing with billion-dollar operations," Howley said. "I don't see this so much as running for political office. This is a managerial position that takes strategic thinking and innovative leadership."

Most recently, during his semi-retirement, Howley has worked as a transitional agent – breathing new life into financially struggling nonprofit organizations including Friends School in Detroit, a private Quaker school, as well as an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community center in Ferndale.

Howley said he is troubled by what he sees as a lack of long-term budget planning for Oakland County and political "shenanigans" that have cost the area development opportunities.

"It's great that we can balance a budget. We're a rich county," Howley said. "But, there's no strategic thinking around the budget."

He said rather than across-the-board cost reductions, he'd prefer a more nuanced approach that balances cuts with each department's contributions. Howley also said he'd like to see Oakland County diversify its economic base and do more to court venture capitalists such as Quicken's Dan Gilbert, who has helped spark a revival of sorts in Detroit.

“Oakland County is at a crossroads," Howley said in a news release announcing his candidacy. "Dramatic changes in the auto industry have altered the landscape here in Oakland County and we need to be much more strategic about our vision for the years ahead.   

"We have great schools, a well-educated work force and a competitive cost of living, but income growth and employment levels in Oakland County are not improving at the same pace as comparable municipalities," he continued. "We have to do a better job of attracting businesses and investment capital to our County to take advantage of the infrastructure we have in place.”

Howley said Friday evening that he has been disappointed by the "partisanship" that has resulted in that would reduce the number of Oakland County commissioners as well as allow the commissioners to determine their own voting districts.

The bill drew approval from Patterson, who said Democrats' court challenge of the bill would be overturning the will of the people.

"The Democrats want to overturn the will of the people so they can maintain a larger, more costly government in Oakland County," Patterson said in a statement earlier this month. "A majority of the representatives of the people of the State of Michigan voted in favor of the bill to reduce the number of Oakland County commissioners which was signed into law by our duly-elected governor."

Howley also cited recent turmoil in Troy – in particular the city's decision to  that was 12 years in the making and would have been completed using $8.4 million in federal money – as an example of politics getting in the way of progress.

"I feel like we've lost that view of 'Let's not make this partisan, let's make this about what's best for the county,' " he said.

Howley can be reached at howleyforexecutive@aol.com. Stay tuned to Patch for more general election coverage.

Birmingham Patch Editor Laura Houser and Troy Patch Editor Jen Anesi contributed to this report.

Bill Mullan January 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Is Mr. Howley a writer of fiction too? Oakland County does have long term fiscal planning. In fact, under Brooks’ leadership, we are the first county in the U.S. which budgets on a three-year, rolling, line-item basis. In addition, Moody's Investors Service and Standard and Poors cite Brooks' prudent fiscal management of the county as among the main reasons they award Oakland County a AAA bond rating. (The county's credit rating is better than the government of the United States, which is run by Democrats.) During the Great Recession, most governments spent into the red; Oakland County's three-year budgeting and five-year economic forecasting enabled a build up $201 million in equity, far exceeding the minimum of the Government Finance Officers Association. In addition, Oakland County was able to trim $100 million or so dollars from the budget and virtually without employee layoffs. For more about the county's long term budgeting, click here: http://www.oakgov.com/exec/assets/docs/budget/report_%20nov_%202011_%20final_revised_framework2012_.pdf One other way Mr. Howley has mislead the public is to say Oakland County has a $1 billion budget. This year, the total budget is $796 million, with a general fund budget of $412 million. That's a difference of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. For someone who has an MBA to overstate the budget by more than a 20% difference raises real questions about his claims to be qualified to manage that budget. -Bill Mullan
james.stevensforsheriff June 22, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Yes we need strong leadership in Oakland county, As Sheriff i plan to help out in area's we can seve Tax payers money, but plan to lower crime and get the Thugs and Criminals off the streets, lately the City of Pontiac has sounded like the Wild West with numerous shootings and robberies, its time we say play time is over and i plan to make our cities safe and personally be on the job 7 days a week. Vote aug 7 James Stevens for Sheriff
Jane Taylor July 12, 2012 at 07:25 AM
Get Bouchard out of there. He is as bad as Brooks.
james.stevensforsheriff August 05, 2012 at 08:55 PM
My name is James Stevens. I’m running for Oakland county Sheriff. BUDGET- This is tough economic times, in the past governments spent money like Drunken Sailors. I plan to cut cost and replace older vehicles with high fuel ratings to save tax dollars. Incentives to our deputies will be paid Bonuses from my own personal Fund. TOP ISSUES 1. Let’s get tough on Crime and drugs. 2. I Plan to start a Boot Camp with my own money, no tax payers money. 3. More patrols in the neighborhoods. 4. A plan to get guns off the streets and a new Crime hotline. 5. Reward deputies by catching the criminals’, bonuses to be paid out from the Sheriffs personnel fund and not the tax payers. JAIL OVER CROWDING – This will no longer be an issue, I plan to open a Boot Camp With my own Funds and inmates are going to perform work details, during the wi nter they will be shoveling sidewalks and I will pay for the shovels from my own pay. Many crimes cost tax payers money. Shoplifting is a large issue which makes prices. Of goods cost us more, the current fine is just another fine in payment which causes the same people to just steal more to pay the fines, but my plan of a Boot Camp is braking concrete during the summer and shoveling snow in the winter for just a few task that they would perform. After one stay at the Sheriff’s Camp I don’t think anyone would want to revisit the county hotel.

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