Republican L. Brooks Patterson's opponent in the November race for county executive, Democrat Kevin Howley, said Wednesday that he is frustrated by the lack of communication from Patterson.
But within hours of statements issued by Howley and Democratic Party chair Frank Houston about his absence, Patterson sent his own news release, titled, "Patterson responds to Oakland Democrats’ 'Whiny Epistle'":
“If I were a democrat and had not seen Patterson for six weeks, I would consider it to be a great summer. The democrats have been so busy climbing all over themselves trying to be the one that measures me for my crypt, that I doubt they really are sincere about my well-being. But (for) the benefit of the many hundreds I’ve heard from, I can report to them that I’m fine. Most bruises and fractures have healed; and there’s one stubborn nerve that I’m working on and should be back at my desk shortly.”
“Over the years I have enjoyed the back and forth with Brooks,” Houston said of Patterson’s statement. “I only wish the back and forth was still with him and not Bill Mullan or some other mouthpiece.”
Patterson has issued a couple of public statements, but has not made a personal appearance or given an interview since he was injured in a car crash Aug. 10.
"We obviously wish Brooks well, but we are extremely frustrated," Howley told Patch on Wednesday. "No debates have been scheduled at this point."
Howley, of Huntington Woods, said many media outlets seem to not be covering the race at all, given his opponent's health issues, and that's a disservice.
"Currently, voters don't have the opportunity to compare and contrast where the candidates stand on the issues. We strongly believe that the county deserves an energetic leader with the vision to move the county forward, who's working full time," he said.
Patterson was not wearing a seatbelt and sustained injuries to his hip, leg, ankle, five ribs and both wrists in the Aug. 10 crash. His spokespeople have said he is rehabilitating in an undisclosed location after being hospitalized for several weeks.
Gerald Poisson, chief deputy county executive, is running the day-to-day operations of Oakland County, according to Bill Mullan, Patterson's media and communications officer. The county executive was required by law to have a succession plan in place, Mullan said.
As for when Oakland County voters will actually see or hear the county executive on the campaign trail, Mullan said he is unable to predict.
“I don’t know the answer,” he said. “I know he is running and plans to serve Oakland for another four more years. He has no stump speeches planned, but I can assure you he is engaged.”
Rumors also have already begun to circulate over who will be named Patterson’s successor if he is unable to fulfill his term and/or is re-elected this November. If Patterson resigns from office after the November election, the Republican-dominated Oakland County Commission will appoint a new county executive to serve until the November 2014 elections are held.
Patch has placed calls to a representative of Patterson's political campaign, whose comments will be added when they are received.