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Councilman details decision to run for county treasurer

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 1, 2020

 Robert Corbett

Robert Corbett

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Robert Corbett, the most veteran member of the Madison Heights City Council with more than 20 years of service, is running for the position of Oakland County treasurer.

The treasurer is a custodian of county funds — collecting property taxes, paying bills on behalf of the county, including paychecks and operating obligations, and more.

The seat is currently held by Andy Meisner, who is now running for Oakland County executive. The Democratic and Republican parties will each choose their candidate for the November 2020 election in the Aug. 4 primary. The two Republicans are Susan Anderson, of Royal Oak, and Joe Kent, of Oxford. In the Democratic primary, Corbett is facing state Rep. Robert Wittenberg, of Huntington Woods.

The county treasurer is a four-year term, but under normal circumstances it has an unconventional start date of July the following year.

“I think it’s some sort of throwback to the old days when the treasurer used to ride around the county collecting annual taxes,” Corbett said.

While Corbett does not need to step down from the City Council in order to run, he will have to resign from his current position if elected.

He said that recent events inspired him to run.

“I believe in the weeks and months to come, all levels of government will be stressed to help relieve residents who are suffering as a result of the pandemic. Communities will need help rebuilding, and our local economy will need reinvigorating,” Corbett said. “The treasurer’s office is an excellent place, I believe, to have a voice in that recovery process. The treasurer’s office not only invests money and pays bills, but they can work with local communities to help make important investments in Oakland County. The county has an excellent credit rating and can be used to support cities like Madison Heights, Hazel Park and many others, leveraging monies to continue work on neighborhood and downtown redevelopment activities.”

In the past 20 years, Corbett has helped the city navigate a number of economic downturns, seeing firsthand the impact they take on the community.

“I think we can do better at all levels of government, and Oakland County is uniquely positioned by the overall wealth of the community, its location as a Midwestern economic juggernaut, and really just the overall beauty of the area … attracting businesses to ensure we maintain that economic viability and support our families,” Corbett said.

He also pledged to expand programs that Meisner has put in place to slow down and reduce home foreclosures. Corbett has been a local realtor and associate real estate broker for more than four decades.

“The treasurer can’t do anything about necessarily relieving debt, but what they can do is educate the public and ensure that those residents behind on their mortgages are fully versed as to their rights, and make the records and background materials that homeowners need easily accessible so that they can assert their rights in fighting efforts to seize homes and property,” Corbett said.

In terms of his background on the Madison Heights City Council, Corbett first joined in 1999 and has been reelected to six consecutive terms since, the most recent of which was in 2019.

“While serving on the Madison Heights City Council, I’ve gone through numerous economic downturns and financially trying episodes. I think that trained me very well for taking on the responsibilities of the treasurer’s office,” Corbett said. “Not only did we have to deal with significant fiscal restraints, but we’ve also had to make tough investment decisions to preserve essential taxpayer services. It’s important to remember during our budget trials in Madison Heights during the Great Recession of 2008, we actually emerged from that time with a slightly higher credit rating than we went into it with. That wasn’t an accident, but rather the result of teamwork and long hours.”

David Soltis, one of Corbett’s colleagues on the City Council, said he has full confidence in Corbett making the most of the treasurer’s office if elected.

“Over the seven-plus years I’ve known him, the guy’s a numbers genius in terms of government finance,” Soltis said of Corbett. “I’ve always relied on his opinion and expert advice on these matters. He puts in an enormous effort to earn the public’s trust when it comes to stewardship of the taxpayer dollar.”

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