Conservative Commissioner Looks to Hold Off Challenge From Political Outsider
Democratic challenger Jon Levin seeks office based on dissatisfaction with incumbent Robert Gosselin.
This is one of several profiles of races that affect voters in Rochester and Rochester Hills.
The race for the 13th District seat on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners has a distinct feel in many ways.
The seat, which represents the southern portion of Rochester Hills, as well as parts of Troy and Bloomfield Township, is one of only a handful of races to feature three candidates and the only one featuring two candidates who have previously served on the board of commissioners.
And the other candidate? Well, he is a bicycle enthusiast with a penchant for old-school political campaigning.
The incumbent is Republican Robert Gosselin, 59, of Troy, an automotive designer for General Motors. His challengers are Democrat Jon Levin, 59, from Bloomfield Township, and former commissioner William Molnar, 50 from Troy.
Gosselin is seeking election to his third term on the Board of Commissioners after serving in the state House of Representatives for six years, representing parts of Troy and Rochester Hills.
Like most Republicans running for office this election cycle, Gosselin strongly emphasized the power of getting government out of the way.
"My philosophical approach has always been small government, putting family first," Gosselin said. "I've always been for strengthening communities with less government. We have too much taxation, too much regulatory law."
Gosselin said the main priority of the Board of Commissioners is balancing the budge.
"The simplest way (to balance the budget) is across-the-board cuts in all departments," Gosselin said. "Sometimes that doesn't work out as efficient as you'd like. It's just going to have to be very tedious with cuts in personnel and so forth."
His major party challenger, Levin, is a throwback of sorts. A competitive cyclist with a laid-back manner of speaking, Levin does not have a campaign web site.
"You don't need digital Jon Levin when you can have the real thing," Levin said.
Levin has no experience at the county level, but he has been involved in neighborhood associations for years. Levin serves on the board of directors of the United Home Owners Association of Bloomfield Township, which he said makes the board of commissioners a logical next step.
Levin said he was inspired to run out of a general dismay of how Gosselin was performing.
"When I say I want to represent the district, I say that because I don't think it's been represented well," Levin said. "The only way to overcome the hindrance of party politics is to reach across the aisle. The incumbent has not at all reached across the aisle.
"If you talked to every Democratic county commissioner and asked them, 'By the removal of which person would the county commission be best improved?' I think the name of my opponent would come up more often than you would expect."
However, Gosselin said he has shown good leadership on the council, including making personal sacrifices in his own finances.
"Four years ago, I returned three percent of my pay before it became a trendy thing to do for the county commission," Gosselin said.
Levin said Oakland County needs to place a greater focus on modernizing its infrastructure.
"There's another divide between Wayne and Oakland County," Levin said. "If we're going to be a region — Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties — we have to be connected physically."
Levin said such a program would not be fiscally feasible at the moment without help from the federal government.
William Molnar, who is running as an independent, did not respond to Rochester Patch's repeated requests for an interview. He is a former member of the Board of Commissioners.