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Candidate close to home chases seat in congress

April 09, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

Running for the U.S. 8th Congressional District seat that Mike Rogers is vacating has been a series of quick decisions for the mayor of Rochester Hills, Bryan Barnett.

Barnett announced his candidacy April 1 at EEI Global in Rochester Hills to Oakland County constituents and local township supervisors, a presentation he organized in less than a day. He needs about 2,000 signatures by filing day April 22 to be on the ballot as a Republican.

Rogers announced he will not seek reelection on March 28, the day before Barnett's team created social media pages rallying for his support.

If elected, Barnett would represent Ingham and Livingston County and much of North Oakland County, including Orion, Oxford, Independence, Addison, Brandon, Groveland, Holly and Oakland Townships, Clarkston, Rochester, most of Rochester Hills, and the villages of Lake Orion, Oxford, Holly, Leonard and Ortonville.

"The issue that's most important to me is to find out what people really want, what they expect of their representative, and how they feel government is working in Washington D.C.," Barnett said at his announcement.

First, he would create a "listening tour" and hold gatherings in rotary clubs, coffee shops and city halls to find out what issues are most important to the local community, he said.

"I don't pretend understanding the wants and needs of everyone in this district, you have to be humble enough and listen to meet those needs," Barnett said.

"Look at the end product," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. "He's got one of the best cities in America, low tax rates, he's responsive, he really cares about the people he represents. He considers politics a calling and that's the kind of idealism I want to go to Washington," Patterson said.

Several officials who attended the April 1 event, including Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett—Bryan Barnett's brother—grabbed stacks of petitions to help get the signatures.

 "Anytime you have a representative in Washington it could translate into money and jobs for this area, and the big thing here is jobs," Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn said.

Job creation is one of Barnett's top priorities, along with fiscal responsibility. Rochester Hills was the first city in Michigan to operate a three year budget, Bryan Barnett said, where the council reviews and passes the budget of the current year along with the next two years.

Rochester Hills also has an AAA bond rating, the highest rating a credit rating agency can give, and has increased the city's fund balance over the last several years.

Independence Township Supervisor Patrick Kittle agreed that North Oakland County will benefit with knowing somebody on the inside.

"He is a standup guy. He is honest, transparent, and the hardest working son of a gun I've had the pleasure to meet in a long time," Kittle said.

Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Gingell said he supports Barnett too.

"I know that he'll take his learnings, his experience and his creativity to Washington, which is what we need," Gingell said. "When you engage people and bring in other ideas and make people part of the solution, you are able to get a lot of things solved, and that's what he does."

State House Rep. Brad Jacobsen also spoke of Bryan Barnett's creative ability to pull together the community.

"He pulls the business community in. He pulls the parents in. It's always fascinating the way he is able to advance the community no matter the economy or the issue. Rochester Hills is always moving forward," Jacobsen said.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (Republican) from Rochester is also running for Roger's seat, along with Democrats Kenneth Darga and Susan Grettenberger, both of Lansing. Rogers decided Monday, April 7 to endorse Bishop.

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