Bolden, 59, lives in southwest Detroit. A computer consultant at Hewlett Packard in Pontiac, he's earned his masters in public administration from Western Michigan University, as well as masters in computers information science from the University of Detroit.
Metro Times:Why are you interested in running for Wayne County Executive?
Fred Bolden: Character counts I am running for Wayne County Executive because I want to restore trust in our county government, ensure each citizen, township and city a voice in the public process, and to provide full-time professional leadership to the County not only myself but for all those I appoint. I will focus on the core services of the county to ensure we have a vibrant economy, fiscal responsibility, safe communities and we are working together. I will address all the quality of life issues that face us all in Wayne county Traffic, Scraping, Graffiti, Lighting, Illegal dumping, and abandoned buildings.
MT: The county has an accumulated $175 million budget deficit. Is there a way to address that and avoid the risk of insolvency?
FB: First, as incoming executive I would audit all departments to avoid what is happening now where the county treasurer is sitting on millions of dollars when that money could have been used long ago in the general fund. These monies could have avoided employee taking furloughs and helped to balance the budget. The best way to keep the budget balanced is by not making so many mistakes like the Race track and county Jail. I would also reorganize the county and trim county appointments starting with the county’s 13 Development Corporations and Authorities.
MT: Do you have any ideas as to how the county can cut costs or raise additional revenue?
FB: I would start off with an audit of all departments to make sure there are no more monies being put into “secret” accounts for example the treasure office. In addition, I would trim my personal appointments that the county executive has from 175 to 25. Which could potentially save millions of dollars. Finally I would follow the county deficit plan that should be in place October 1, 2014. I’m also having my finance team look over the plan and I feel we would have less than the projected $30 million shortfall once our strategies are in place.
I would promote it as an economic development tool for local communities to partner with Wayne County to promote job creation these approved projects are eligible for tax incentives directly related to the amount of jobs created. These tax incentives would be renewable energy incentives, pollution control incentives. Also I would promote this through a regional legislative set of bill to provide Franchise tax reforms, and provide R&D Tax Credits.
MT: Is there any aspect of the incumbent’s record that you believe are commendable accomplishments?
FB: He has 32 years of service for Wayne County.
MT: Do you have any criticisms of the incumbent and how his administration has ran?
FB: He is using Republicans to bail him out of this jam. The county’s number two guy Jeffrey Collins and the number three person Mark Abo are both Republicans, so if Republicans can be there as appointments, then why not as a leader?
MT: If current plans with Bedrock Real Estate Services to redevelop the downtown Wayne County Jail site fall through, how would you address the failed project?
FB: None of these choices should be made in the frantic run-up to an election. My suspension is that something will happen in the next months but if not I would review the current plans and make my decision based on that. My first instinct is that we sell to the Rock Financial group for the sheer development potential. Rock Ventures has proposed a $500 million development of 1.7 million square feet of space, with 700 residential and hotel units with 200,000 square feet of retail and parking, on the site of the Gratiot and some adjacent county-owned property. Some of the residential would be brownstone-style units. (Crain’s Detroit Business). Since we have not had this type of development in the city in a long time.
MT: The incumbent has indicated the downriver wastewater treatment facilities could be sold to compensate for the budget deficit. Would you support the move?
FB: Yes, that is part of the budget deficit reduction plans. I am reviewing those plans with my team to see where else we can reduce the budget without selling all our assets. In addition another $150 Million would be moved over from the Treasurer Office funds to the general funds we can see how far that takes us and determine if we have to sell assets.
MT: What have you done personally or professionally to help advance regional cooperation, or other significant causes?
FB: I feel we can be a much more competitive region if we offered relatively free Wifi county-wide. I have an undergraduate student, Katie Hoban, from MSU researching that project and we both agree that it is a very strong possibility that this can be rolled out quickly. Also the Bit Lab group at Michigan State University is doing multiple research projects in technology, security and I am reviewing many of those project that I hope to implement countywide. As well as improving the county website where a new business can pretty much do 100% of it paperwork on the computer and this would email all the appropriate department the results. I am working with multiple technology firms and students to move us quickly forward in the technology field and that would make us very attractive to hi-tech firms for job creation.
MT: Would you support the creation of a regional water authority to oversee the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department? If not, why?
FB: Yes, but I would work face to face with Oakland and Macomb county and Detroit’s Mayor not through an emergency manager. Find out what each party needs and wants for this to come to fruition then proceed professionally.
MT: A number of communities in Wayne County have either faced the prospect of emergency management, or have seen Lansing appoint one to handle their finances. What are your thoughts about the current emergency manager law, PA 436?
FB: To safeguard and assure the financial accountability of local units of government and school districts; to preserve the capacity of local units of government and school districts to provide or cause to be provided necessary services essential to the public health, safety, and welfare. I support this piece of the legislation but you can’t just support one piece without all of it. Most cities that I’ve seen have welcomed emergency managers because it takes a lot of pressure off the local government and elected officials and put it on the manager who now has more authority to cancel contracts, and re-negotiate salaries.
MT: What’s your favorite book and movie about politics?
FB: Favorite book: The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater
Favorite Movie: All the President’s Men with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman
MT: What’s the best restaurant to dine at in Wayne County?
FB: Traffic Jam & Snug. I have been a patron since 1975 my college years.
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