County Commission Goes Blue for First Time in Decades

County Commission Goes Blue for First Time in Decades

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 7, 2018)

Pontiac, MI – For the first time in decades the Oakland County Commission has more Democrats serving than Republicans.  The newly elected Commissioners will take their seats on Jan. 1, and a new Chair will be appointed. There will be 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans.

Democratic County Commissioner Dave Woodward of the 19th District said it’s been about 40 years since the commission had a Democratic majority.

According to documents found by Woodward, the Commission went from Republican to Democrat in 1976 briefly when two Republican Commissioners (Mary Mead Dearborn and Robert Button) switched parties. Prior to that an elected Democratic majority existed in 1970 when William Richards was the Chairperson.

Oakland County voters sent a strong message they want change, and Democrats are ready to lead,” Woodward said.  “On day one, our new Democratic majority is ready to focus on fixing our roads, investing in skills training, and protecting our water. Together we will build and economy for everyone, and not just a few. We have new leaders joining the board who are excited to strengthen our local economy, and make sure Oakland County is a leader for our region.”

The winners are as follows:

Dist. 1 – Mike Gingell (R)

Dist. 2 – Bob Hoffman (R)

Dist. 3 – Michael Spisz (R)

Dist. 4 – Tom Middleton (R)

Dist. 5 –Kristen Nelson (D)

Dist. 6 – Eileen Kowall (R)

Dist. 7 – Christine Long (R)

Dist. 8 – Phil Weipert (R)

Dist. 9 – Gwen Markham (D)

Dist. 10 –Angela Powell (D)

Dist. 11 – Thomas E. Kuhn (R)

Dist. 12 – Shelley Goodman Taub (R)

Dist. 13 –Marcia Gershenson (D)

Dist. 14 –William Miller (D)

Dist. 15 – Adam Kochenderfer (R)

Dist. 16 –Penny Luebs (D)

Dist. 17 – Nancy Quarles (D)

Dist. 18 –Helaine Zack (D)

Dist. 19 –Dave Woodward (D)

Dist. 20 –Gary McGillivray (D)

Dist. 21 –Janet Jackson (D)

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said, in a statement, of the change “The results of Tuesday’s election were not unexpected. My administration has always reached across the aisle, especially at budget time, to pass a bipartisan, balanced, three-year budget. We will continue to do so.

“I look forward to working with the new board to continue my administration’s priorities of protecting Oakland County taxpayers with a balanced, multi-year budget, a AAA-bond rating, and a healthy fund balance. In addition, driving job creation in Michigan through diversification in the knowledge-based economy and supporting small businesses, investing in technology to improve government efficiency and services, and to enable our residents to experience a premiere quality of life through active and healthy lifestyles.”

Gwen Markham of Novi beat Hugh Crawford for the 9th District seat.  “It’s really exciting to be part of the new County Board. I focused my campaign on supporting regional cooperation, especially on Public Transit. I’m hoping we can move forward toward more robust service and give the residents transportation options. I look forward to being part of a great group of Commissioners.”

District 18 is represented by Helaine Zack from Huntington Woods.  “When I started with Dave Coulter almost 16 years ago, there were 6 Dems and 19 Republicans! I am very excited to welcome William Miller, Gwen Markham, Penny Luebs and Kristen Nelson. They are hard working, passionate and dedicated people. They will be great public servants,” she said.

“Personally I have two resolutions waiting to be introduced on an affordable housing task force and looking at better ways to deliver recreational and parks programs across the County. I also want to see if Oakland county can create a real land bank.

“We are going to closely examine the Board rules and look at how the legislative branch of Oakland County can be stronger and more effective.”

The 21-member Board of Commissioners is the governing body of the County, which is divided into 21 equally populated districts. Each district holds approximately 57,000 residents. Each Commissioner is chosen through an election to serve a single district for a two-year term of office. Learn more at

Note: A previous version incorrectly named Markham’s opponent as Kathy Crawford. She actually ran against Hugh Crawford. Kathy Crawford is the State Rep. candidate.

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