County Executive Dave Coulter
County Executive Dave Coulter. (David Sachs)

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said he was interested in fostering relationships within the Jewish community.

Earlier this month, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter visited the Jewish News’ Farmington Hills office to meet with the editorial team and Detroit Jewish News Foundation Board Member Mark Zausmer and Board Advisor Mark Davidoff.

Coulter said he was interested in fostering relationships within the Jewish community. “In many ways, I’m still the new guy,” he said. “I know my own corner of Oakland County very well, but we have a big county, so I’ve been engaged in a listening tour, meeting with leaders from all over. 

“The Jewish community is centered here in Oakland County, and it has a major presence. I want to better understand the community.”

Coulter added that he was in Washington, D.C., during the recent “No Fear” rally again antisemitism. “I thought it was important to go and was struck by the commitment of two young men I met there from Oak Park, who drove down to the rally because they thought they needed to be there.”

Because of the recent surge in antisemitism, Coulter also addressed the issue of security within the community. He said he has talked to Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, who has been doing proactive outreach to synagogues and other places of worship regarding security.

Coulter also talked about “making county government work.” His board of directors is split 11-10 between Democrats and Republicans. “And we don’t ignore the 10 Republicans,” Coulter said. “We like proposals to pass with broad bipartisan support, which we’ve done with our budget and federal COVID relief dollars.”

Coulter added efforts are under way to build more diversity into county government, something he said was lacking. Another new project was the creation of a Community Relations Department to better understand and work more closely with area agencies and nonprofits. His office has also set up a welcoming initiative for immigrants, which the Jewish Community Relations Council is a part of.

He said the biggest challenge the county faces is still COVID. “No question. The pandemic is not over,” he said. “The challenge is managing this next phase. Although the health aspect is much more manageable now, we still need to get people vaccinated. There are also the affects of the pandemic on the economy. A lot of businesses have recovered and are doing great, but there are those still struggling. We want to target our American Recovery Plan dollars to where we can make the biggest impact and make significant, structural and transformational change.”  

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