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Macomb County

Commissioners look to amend relationship with Hackel

January 9, 2013

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Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh swears in the 2012-13 Board of Commissioners Dec. 20. The board vows to repair relations with County Executive Mark Hackel.

MOUNT CLEMENS — The relationship between the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and the County Executive Mark Hackel has been rocky.

Within the first two years of the county’s new charter, the two sides went to court to define the role of each branch, and Hackel vetoed a number of resolutions from the board, only to have the commissioners subsequently override his veto.

But several commissioners vowed that the 2013-14 term will be different.

During interviews, the commissioners expressed interest in mending the relationship with Hackel as one of their priorities during the next two years.

“I continually hope and strive for a more collaborative Macomb County government,” said Fred Miller, a Democrat representing the 9th District. “I think that’s what the people want, and I think that’s what we need to get.”

His Republican colleague Commissioner Joe Sabatini agreed.

“We had a very united board (last) term,” said Sabatini, who represents the 13th District. “We just now have to get that unity between the board and the executive.”

Beyond relationship mending, commissioners say the county still has several obstacles ahead, with continued decline in revenue sharing from the state and aging county infrastructure being two among the many.

Sabatini said he’d like to see budget surpluses put toward the funding of building repairs: something the county neglected to do before. “In the past, there was no foresight when there was money available to put toward our capital improvements,” he said.

Another solution to upcoming financial strains could be more tri-county regionalization, like a regional jail, Sabatini suggested.

Despite the geographical split between Democrats, representing communities south of Hall Road, and Republicans, representing communities north of Hall Road, the commissioners predict continued unity among board members, even with its three new members and its new chairman.

“The county board isn’t as partisan as Lansing or Washington (D.C.),” said new Board Chairman David Flynn, a Democrat representing the 4th District. “It’s more about who’s willing to come to the table and put forth real solutions.”

Veronica Klinefelt, a new Democratic commissioner representing the 3rd District, said she is coming into the position with an open mind. “I believe coming to a comprise is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Miller said commissioners’ relationships are based less on party affiliation and more on whom they get along with, personally.

“Party identity caucusing is less here,” Miller said. “It’s more individual and personal, which I don’t know if that’s better or worse.”

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