25 | Talking Election & Politics with L. Brooks Patterson

L. Brooks Patterson is an American lawyer and politician, currently serving as the Executive of Oakland County, Michigan.  L. Brooks is transforming Oakland County and southeast Michigan with his vision and no-nonsense leadership. His mission is to make Oakland County one of the best places to live, work, play and raise a family.  And if you ask this resident, he's done a damn fine job of it.

Below outlines Brooks' biography and many of his innovative programs and accomplishments, but the reason I love Brooks, call him a dear friend/mentor & the reason he is on my podcast this week is because he is a straight shooter, a genius (professionally and emotionally) who can break down complex political talk so the average person can understand it & truly understands and teaches what it takes to be a good leader.

With all the political drama surrounding this year's (Presidential) election, many of us are feeling hopeless and confused about how to vote. I always enjoy hearing Brooks' perspective & wanted to know his thoughts about this year's election & take on how each candidate would play out in the white house.

I hope you enjoy listening to this podcast as much we enjoyed recording it!

The podcast link is at the very bottom if of this page if you want to skip right to the audio, but if not, more about Brooks:


In his sixth four-year term as chief executive officer of one of America's most affluent and progressive counties, Brooks presides over a $826 million annual budget for FY 2016 and a county workforce of nearly 4,300 full and part time employees. 

During the 23-plus years of Brooks' administration, Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's have awarded Oakland County its coveted AAA bond rating for its prudent fiscal policies and success in transforming Oakland County's economy from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy.

Innovative programs Mr. Patterson has launched include: 

Three Year Budget - Oakland County is the first county in the United States to have adopted a balanced three-year, rolling, line-item budget. Because of its long-term budgeting, Oakland County has garnered a AAA bond rating which has saved taxpayers millions of dollars on capital projects. 

Emerging Sectors - In 2004, Brooks created Oakland County's Emerging Sectors Initiative to diversity Oakland County's economy by identifying the top 10 sectors that will attract and retain sustainable, high-paying jobs to Oakland County in the 21st Century. Companies in these emerging sectors are involved in such leading-edge technologies as biotechnology, nanotechnology, wireless communications and alternative energy. Nearly 400 high-tech companies have invested more than $3.6 billion creating more than 36,000 jobs and retaining nearly 21,000 jobs since its inception.

Medical Main Street - With well over 100,000 jobs, health care and life sciences are the largest Emerging Sectors in Oakland County. Medical Main Street markets this burgeoning sector and Oakland County as a destination for world-class health care and medical device manufacturing. More individuals work in health care, life science research, and medical device manufacturing in the Oakland County region than the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic areas combined. Since its inception, 49 Medical Main Street companies have invested nearly $1 billion creating more than 5,800 jobs and retaining about 2,400. 

Tech 248 - Harnessing the power of more than 2,000 Information Technology companies in Oakland County, Brooks launched Tech 248 to attract investment from around the world in the fastest growing and second largest Emerging Sector. Tech 248 helps tech companies collaborate and attract, develop and retain talent while promoting Oakland County as a global technology hub.

Automation Alley - In his 1997 State of the County speech, Brooks launched Automation Alley – a consortium of high tech companies, government entities and educational institutions to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley, Boston's Route 128 and North Carolina's Research Triangle. Today, Automation Alley has more than 1,000 members spanning eight counties. The results are astounding. Southeast Michigan has the highest number of advanced automotive industry jobs in the U.S.; is positioned ahead of Boston, Seattle and Austin in almost every measure analyzed; and is second only to San Jose's Silicon Valley region in the number of people working in architectural and engineering occupations. 

Global Oakland - Oakland County is home to over 1,000 foreign firms from 39 countries, giving the county an international diversity that few counties or even states in the U.S. can match. It is ranked 13th nationally in total exports, with its businesses producing $14.5 billion in merchandise exports. Brooks' administration is leveraging this strength in foreign investment by hosting the Consular Corps of Michigan office on the county's government campus.  Oakland County is also a participant in the U.S. Department of Commerce's SelectUSA program which encourages international investment in the United States. 

Oakland County International Airport Terminal - Brooks opened the nation's first LEED-certified general aviation airport terminal at Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) in 2011. The 15,000 square foot terminal building features leading-edge green technologies such as a living wall of tropical rain forest plants that cleans the air inside the building; wind and solar generation of electricity; a solar hot water heater; geothermal heating and cooling; highly efficient fluorescent and LED lighting; and electric car charging stations, among others. The new terminal was paid for solely by user fees and State of Michigan and federal grants. In the course of a year, nearly every Fortune 500 company flies through OCIA. It has an annual economic impact of $175 million on the region. 

Technology - Oakland County is consistently ranked among the most digitally advanced counties by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). The county develops and utilizes leading-edge software to improve the delivery of services to its customers while reducing costs. In 2014, the Center for Digital Government said Oakland County has the best county government website in the United States. 

The HAP Brooksie Way - Brooks established The HAP Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5k Race as a quality of life event to encourage residents to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle. It attracted more than 6,500 participants in its eighth year in September of 2015 at Oakland University in Rochester.  The race is named in honor of his son, Brooks Stuart Patterson, who was killed in a snowmobiling accident. The private proceeds from the race fund Brooksie Way Minigrants which are awarded to Oakland County organizations promoting healthy and active lifestyles for its members. By the end of 2015, over 135 organizations had received $145,000 in minigrants.  

Cloud Computing - Oakland County is positioning its IT applications in the cloud so that local governments can use them on an as-needed basis. Through its G2G Cloud Solutions and G2G Market Place, Oakland County is enabling other governments to improve services while reducing costs to taxpayers throughout Michigan. The county has been providing technologies to governments within the region for years.  This next evolution in the county's technology is a real budget saver for local cities, villages and townships. They don't need to buy software or pay for the servers to host the applications. They simply pay Oakland County a nominal user fee which is a revenue enhancer for the county. 

Health Care Cost Containment Initiative - Under Brooks' leadership, Oakland County is the first county in America to have fully funded employee and retiree health care while saving taxpayers over $150 million. Plus, new hires no longer receive lifetime retiree health care but Health Savings Accounts to help supplement their retirement medical costs. The use of HSAs is projected to save the county $400 million. 

Redefining Retirement - In 1994, Brooks moved county employees from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan, much like a private-sector 401(k). The old plan is fully funded for those who remain in that retirement system. That means no more Oakland County general fund dollars are paying for the pension plan. Since the switch, taxpayers have saved more than $100 million. 

Main Street Oakland County - Oakland County is the first county in the United States to operate a full-fledged countywide Main Street program for the 32 distinct, historic downtowns in Oakland County. The county program was formed in 2000. Since its inception, nearly $668 million has been invested in MSOC communities, establishing 940 new businesses and creating nearly 6,900 jobs. 

Economic Growth Alliance - Brooks established the Economic Growth Alliance in 2009 as a multi-county initiative to collaborate on key legislative, economic development, planning, and promotional initiatives.  The seven-county group includes Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Shiawassee, and St. Clair counties. The alliance represents nearly three million residents and more than 73,000 businesses. EGA works together to expand business opportunities for the region by promoting area assets including Bishop International Airport, the Blue Water Bridge, the corridors of I-69, I-94, US-23 and M-59, as well as the focused economic efforts of each county. 

Mandarin Chinese - Brooks, noting the challenges presented by China's emergence as a world economic power, called for Oakland County to be the first county in America to teach Mandarin Chinese in just about every public school district. Educators responded and today the Mandarin Chinese language, history and culture are being taught in school districts throughout OaklandCounty. 

Count Your Steps - A pedometer walking program to target childhood obesity that involves providing pedometers to 30,000 third and fourth grade students in Oakland County's public, private and charter schools.  Students compete one month every spring to see who walks the most steps. All money is raised through private donations; no taxpayer's funds are involved. Since its inception, 188,000 third- and fourth-graders have walked 17 billion steps or 341 times around the earth. This program has now evolved into advocating and helping schools adopt the Fuel Up To Play 60 initiative by the National Dairy Council and National Football League. 

OakFit - Oakland County's wellness program, OakFit, is "bending the trend" on health care costs. OakFit has enabled the county to avoid more than $24 million in additional employee health care costs. OakFit, which has been featured on Fox News and USA Today, includes health screenings for early detection of chronic health issues and lunchtime healthy lifestyle activities for employees.

EPA – Brooks' Employee Suggestion Program has generated more than $5 million worth of taxpayer savings since 1993 while his Casual Day Program has distributed more than a half million dollars to local charities (neither involves taxpayer funds). 

ABE - In 1998, Brooks founded Arts, Beats & Eats. The four-day family-oriented fun-fest in downtown Royal Oak features great food, wonderful music and extraordinary art.  The event, ranks as one of the top 10 Art Fairs in America and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities.

In addition, during the 1980's Brooks established The Rainbow Connection which grants wishes to terminally ill children. Brooks serves as president of the organization.

Brooks has earned numerous awards and honors including:

  • 2015 - Patriot of the Year Award
  • 2015 - Boys Hope Girls Hope Support and Dedication Recognition
  • 2014 - Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year
  • 2014 - Brain Injury Association of Michigan Community Service & Leadership Award
  • 2014 - Sosnick Courage to Lead Award
  • 2013 - 124th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner Max Fisher Achievement Award
  • 2013 - Excellence in Leadership Award from Rochester Hills, Mich.
  • 2013 - College of Osteopathic Medicine Walter F. Patenge Medal of Public Service
  • 2013 - Brain Injury Association Protecting Michigan's No-Fault Insurance Award
  • 2013 - CPAN Public Conscience Award
  • 2012 - Metro Detroit Youth Day Appreciation Award
  • 2012 - Quality People/Quality County Award
  • 2011 - Michigan Emerging Catalyst Award for his job attraction initiatives
  • 2011 - Civic Leadership Award from the Twilight Benefit Association
  • 2011 - Achievement Award for Excellence from Wolverine Human Services
  • 2011 - Distinguished Arts & Culture Award from the Paint Creek Center for the Arts
  • 2011 - Art Van Hope Award
  • 2010 - Government Official of the Year Award from the Woodward Avenue Action Association
  • 2010 - University of Detroit Mercy College of Liberal Arts Hall of Honor
  • 2010 - Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award
  • 2010 - Main Street Oakland County Spirit Award
  • 2010 - U.S. Census Valued Partner Award
  • 2009 - Wayne County Commission Appreciation of Contribution to Tri-County Summit Award
  • 2009 - Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Central Michigan University
  • 2009 -  American Arab Chamber of Commerce Chairman's Circle Award of Excellence
  • 2008 - Public Official Award from the Arc of Oakland County
  • 2008 - MIRA Gold Key Award
  • 2007 - Rotary Foundation of Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow
  • 2007 - Optimist International Club of West Bloomfield Community Service Award
  • 2007 - Michigan Chamber of Commerce Service and Leadership Award
  • 2006 - Child Abuse and Neglect Council Kaleidoscope Award
  • 2006 - Detroit Regional Chamber World Trader Award
  • 2006 - One of Government Technology Magazine's Top 25 individuals in America "pushing the boundaries of government
    as usual."   
  • 2006 - Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kettering University
  • 2005 - Visionary Award from the Michigan Department of Information Technology for leadership support of technology      initiatives
  • 2005 - "World Trader of the Year" by the Detroit Regional Chamber
  • 2005 - Champion for Children Award from Region 9 (Oakland, Wayne and Macomb Counties) of the Michigan Association of School Administrators
  • 2004 - Lighthouse of Oakland County Humanitarian Award
  • 2003 - Automation Alley CEO Legend of the Year
  • 2001 - Automation Alley Founders Award sponsored by General Motors
  • 2000 - Corp! Magazine Man of the Decade

Click the links below to listen to this podcast, as well as connect with Brooks & Oakland County, Michigan.

Want to know more about L. Brooks Patterson or Oakland County? Check out their social pages here:
Website | Facebook Instagram | Twitter