Southfield (CBS Detroit) – It was all hands on deck as the region’s “Big Four” political leaders – Mayor Mike Duggan, Oakland County Executive David Coulter, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans appeared together for the first time in three years along with Jason Morgan, Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, at the Detroit Free Press’ sold out “Breakfast Club” forum on Tuesday.
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The topic of the standing room only event –“Regional Transit: a new Era?”
Held at the Townsend Hotel, the forum was moderated by Carol Cain, Senior Producer/Host of CBS 62’s MICHIGAN MATTERS and was taped and air 11:30 a.m. Sunday as a special edition of “Michigan Matters.”
Peter Bhatia, Vice President and Editor of the Free Press, also posed audience questions to the panel.
It marked a new chapter for the Big Four as Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who held the job for 28 years, died last summer of pancreatic cancer. He was the lone Republican among the four leaders.
Coulter, a Democrat, was serving as mayor of Ferndale when he was tapped by the Oakland County Commissioners to take over the job and serve out the remainder of Mr. Patterson’s term which ends in 2020. Coulter is now running to retain the county executive job.
Morgan, 31, the youngest leader on the stage, represented Washtenaw County which is supportive of a new regional transit effort announced several weeks ago.READ MORE: Board May Find Michigan GOP Governor Candidates Ineligible For Primary Ballot
The leaders talked about regional transit and a new push which hinges on passage of state legislation that would amend the Municipal Partnership Act (MPA) of 2011.
Under House Bill 5229, introduced by Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance), the MPA would be amended to allow leaders in Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties to begin the conversation about a potential transit plan that could be put forth to voters. The bill would also need pass in the Senate. And there are more steps to go before it could be put forth to voters.
Hackel, whose county is not part of the plan, could join at a later date. He and Duggan exchanged a few words about whether Hackel might travel to Lansing to talk to leaders there.
The Breakfast Club is a popular morning speaker series launched by the Detroit Free Press to focus on important issues impacting the region. Previous speakers have included former MSU Interim President John Engler, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, CEO and Entrepreneur Denise Ilitch, Detroit Lions President Rod Woods and Penske’s Bud Denker. DTE is presenting sponsor of the Breakfast Club.
Cain, also a columnist at Detroit Free Press, moderates the forums which air as “Michigan Matters” episodes. More Breakfast Club forums are planned for 2020.
More photos from the Breakfast Club Forum:
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Watch MICHIGAN MATTERS, Sunday at 11:30am on CBS 62