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August 15, 2013 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-08-15

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Working Together

v p

Jewish women lead party caucuses
on the Oakland County Commission.

Shari S. Cohen

Special to the Jewish News


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rr ~ 11

the e a dl f u o l r t e i n ec w ei s m he I e t a o r n ns i c n g h o o I )01


August 15 • 2013


Jewish Federation


for Jewish

akland County is home to
the majority of Michigan's
Jewish population so it's
not surprising that the community
is well-represented on the Oakland
County Board of Commissioners.
The current board has three Jewish
members — including two women
who chair their respective party cau-
cuses — Marcia Gershenson (D-13th
District) and Shelley Goodman Taub
(R-12th District). Helaine Zack, also
a Democrat, rep-
resents the 18th
All three are
Gershenson is in her
fourth term; Taub,
who also served as a
state representative,
is in her fifth; and
Zack is serving her
sixth term. Former
Commissioner Gilda
Jacobs was the first
Jewish woman to
chair a board caucus.
Each Commission
Shelley Taub
district encompasses
57,000 Oakland
County citizens.
approve an annual
$760 million budget,
including a large
allocation for law
Helaine Zack
enforcement and
court administra-
tion as well as other
functions such as economic develop-
ment and health services that are
part of their administrative responsi-
bility. Commissioners are elected and
serve two-year terms without manda-
tory term limits; their annual salary
is $32,093.
The current Board of
Commissioners has eight women
members among 21 commissioners.
Gershenson, Taub and Zack agree
that Oakland County government
is somewhat of an "old boys club"
that can be challenging for women
"Men are in the leadership:'
said Gershenson of Bloomfield
Hills. "While we (Democratic and

Republican women commissioners)
may not agree, it is very important to
have our voices heard. Women make
up more than 50 percent of the voters
and the workforce:'
Taub of Bloomfield Hills, the only
Repubican Jewish woman on the
Commission, said, "It can be tough
dealing with the leadership — the
way some men respond to women
can be condescending."
Zack of Huntington Woods added,
"Women provide different outlooks
and a different process at the table!'
As Republican Caucus chair, Taub
works to bring together a group of
"very individualistic" Republicans who
represent diverse opinions, especially
on social issues, which she says can be
the object of a lot of political pressure.
Gershenson views her role as
Democratic Caucus chair as "com-
municating with my caucus members
and making sure that all of their
voices are heard. Everyone is encour-
aged to vote their conscience:'
While the Board of Commissioners
does not pass laws, it does adopt resolu-
tions, some of which concern statewide
issues that may affect Oakland County.
One example is a recently introduced
bipartisan resolution urging state legis-
lators to support Gov. Snyder's proposed
expansion of Medicaid.
Resolution sponsors Gershenson
and Commissioner William Dwyer
(R-14th District) view Medicaid as
a way to extend health coverage to
more Michigan residents, includ-
ing potentially 40,000 individuals in
Oakland County, and to save money
for the state's budget. The Board of
Commissioners is expected to vote
on the resolution this month.
Even if the state legislature does not
authorize expansion of Medicaid, state
health exchanges authorized under
the federal Affordable Care Act will
begin providing information about
newly available health insurance plans
in October.
Taub said public libraries through-
out the county will be ready with
information and computer access for
Oakland County residents seeking to
understand the new health insurance
system and the process to compare
and choose health plans.

Gun Control And More

This year, commissioners considered
another controversial issue — gun
control — through a series of forums

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