(WXYZ) — The legacy of former Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who held the position for nearly 30 years, looms large over the race for his job.
During a Zoom debate between two Democratic candidates clawing for the top job in Michigan’s most affluent county, both took shots, but it was comments from Andy Meisner, the current Treasurer, that led Patterson’s daughter to pen a scathing open letter.
When asked if the county executive role needs to be reshaped following Patterson’s reign, Meisner started off his comments by saying: “Brooks Patterson, who I have to say clearly, was a racist and misogynist and a xenophobe.”
He continued to call the former executive’s philosophy hateful and said that it added vitriol to regional discourse.
Patterson’s daughter, Mary Patterson Warner, launched back.
“I find it cowardly you say these things about him once he’s gone. He’s not here to defend himself, and defend himself he surely would. Mr. Meisner, you need to stay in your lane. Focus on yourself and what YOU can do for our county.”
Following the letter, Meisner doubled down, telling 7 Action News Jim Kiertzner that he didn’t say anything during the conversation that he didn’t say when Patterson was alive.
“What my intent is that we have an open and honest conversation about Mr. Patterson’s legacy and I don’t think that is across the line,” said Meisner.
Meisner contends that Patterson’s denial of regional transit hurt the black community.
“People of color, the black community, in particular, was held back so greatly,” said Meisner.
Patterson is known for making some off-color remarks, mostly focused on Detroit.
In 2014, Patterson was quoted in the New Yorker as telling his kids, "Don't stop for gas in Detroit, it's a call for a carjacking."
"I am not going to say he was perfect," Patterson Warner told WXYZ. "I am not ever going to claim that anybody is. And I am not here to debate everything he did."
Patterson died of cancer in August last year.
That’s when the Oakland County Board of Commissioners appointed Dave Coulter, the former Ferndale Mayor, to the position.
Coulter and Meisner, both Democrats, will square off for the position in the August Primary, which would pave the way for the county’s electorate in November.
Three Republicans are also running for Oakland County Executive, Mike Kowal, Dave Farris and Jeffrey G. Nutt.
Read the entire letter below.
https://www.scribd.com/document/465880068/Open-Letter-to-Andy-Meisner#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" >Open Letter to Andy Meisner by https://www.scribd.com/user/71114583/WXYZ-TV-Channel-7-Detroit#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" >WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd