Joe Kent, an Oxford resident is running for Oakland County Treasurer.
Party affiliation: Republican Party
Family:I am married to my college sweetheart. We are the proud parents of two teenage children.
Occupation:Partner in Kent & Edwards Tax Advisors LLC. Tax Accountant for 25 years.
Previous elected experience:Lost 2016 State House of Representatives race by 15 votes.
Family members in government:No
Campaign website: https://electjoekent.com/
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The most pressing issue is Coronavirus stress on families, livelihoods and businesses. As Oakland County Treasurer I and my staff will set new and higher standards for outreach to people and business owners who are unable to pay their property taxes on time. Every effort must be made to find solutions that enable people to remain in their homes. This is the right thing to do and in the best long-term interest of neighborhoods and communities.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I am an expert in financial and tax matters. I'm licensed as a tax professional by the U.S. Department of Treasury. I hold an MBA from the University of Michigan. I'm highly experienced in negotiating with government on behalf of taxpayers. I've been a trusted, inner-circle adviser to countless business owners and families for three decades.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
My extensive experience in tax and financial reporting includes advising businesses on how to manage and safeguard their assets and personnel, and to navigate through complex tax regulations. I am also a demonstrated leader as evidenced by my roles in civic and faith organizations. These includes being president of my local Rotary community service organization and being named a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International; serving on the board of directors of Crossroads For Youth which provides a home, therapy and schooling to dozens of at-risk children; and representing my church in a multi-county region as director of public affairs. I am widely known as a skilled, reliable, ethical and compassionate manager of resources and people.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
As a tax professional I experienced first hand the confusion faced by my clients in understanding and accessing COVID-19 stimulus and relief funding. This confusion was compounded by local municipalities who were administering federal COVID-19 programs in such a way that eligible people and businesses could not understand where or how to apply, and whether these programs were duplicates of one another. State government should take a lead both in more effectively communicating what resources are available, and providing ways to apply for aid that involve live telephone assistance. A recent USA Today report showed that nearly ten percent of the earnings of Michigan residents go to pay Michigan taxes. This high rate of taxation should make it possible for our state government to set a national standard for the rapid and efficient delivery of COVID-19 relief funding.
How will you address the calls for racial justice and police reform?
The Oakland County Treasurer's office lacks special tools to serve our racially and ethnically diverse population. On-line resources need to be accessible by people for whom English is not their primary language. Programs to assist homeowners who are behind on their property taxes need to include mobile resources, and hours that accommodate employment obligations and child-care challenges. The Treasurer's office should be a partner of taxpayers rather than an adversary. These will be priorities of my administration.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
As a financial professional I am concerned about recent changes to the financial policies and practices of the late L. Brooks Patterson, the long-serving Oakland County Executive. It has become more difficult for the public to know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent, and price is no longer the primary factor in awarding county contracts. In my business life I am frequently called upon to be an advocate on behalf of taxpayers who are being unfairly pressured by the IRS. I believe that the people of Oakland deserve to have an advocate in the Treasurer's office.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am committed to making our tax policies more fair and less of a burden, and I have put this commitment into action. In 2015 I crisscrossed my own municipality knocking on doors and urging homeowners to oppose Proposal One, which would have raised Michigan's sales tax rate without any accountability for how the additional funds would be spent. Later I knocked on thousands of additional doors to restore Michigan's Homestead Property Tax Credit and reduce the Retirement Tax. As Treasurer I will continue to put words into action as an advocate for the people of Oakland County.