The Victory Fund is providing support and endorsement for two county-level races in Michigan for the 2012 election: Kevin Howley for Oakland County Executive and Craig Covey in his bid for re-election to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. The Victory Fund endorses qualified, committed openly LGBT candidates who can win at the ballot box, and gives candidates a vehicle through which to raise money online.
Howley is one of the Victory Fund’s Focus races this year, meaning that it is one of about 20 that are positioned to get national attention. He faces Republican L. Brooks Patterson, who has held the position for the past 20 years. “Oakland County, Michigan, is the state’s second largest county (1.2 million people) and blossomed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s thanks to the amazing growth of the auto industry. Lack of planning and an undiversified economic base have left Oakland County stuck in neutral after having lost 175,000 jobs from 2000 to 2010,” says the Victory Fund website.
With a fresh perspective and a background in business and in helping struggling nonprofits recover, Howley hopes to bring new leadership to Oakland County. He has served as Interim Executive Director of Affirmations, Ruth Ellis Center and Friends Schools of Detroit when those organizations needed transitional leadership. But he’s also a seasoned private sector business administrator who, among other successes, was the second-in-command of the largest envelope producer in the world.
Howley lives Huntington Woods with his partner Jason and their two children, Langston (13) and Lily (6). There are only a handful of openly gay candidates running for office this year, and none with as much of an impact as being the Executive of Michigan’s second-largest county. “The burden seems to be turning my way if the gay community is going to be left with any bully pulpit whatsoever,” Howley said. “I’ve got to find a way to rally folks around every corner of the state. Honestly, it feels like the LGBT community is becoming a bit invisible.”
Craig Covey is running for Oakland County Commissioner for the newly-created 18th District, representing Hazel Park, Ferndale, Royal Oak Township, part of Oak Park and Huntington Woods. Thanks to a series of laws that turned power of redistricting over to the Republican majority on the Oakland County Board, Covey has been pitted against fellow Democrat Helaine Zack of Huntington Woods for an August 7th primary.
“I have enjoyed the strong support of the LGBT community and other civil rights groups every time I have run for office, beginning in 1995. Support from them has been critical to my success as a Councilman, Mayor, and County Commissioner. Particularly I receive contributions, energy, and volunteers from the local and state LBGT organizations as well,” Covey said. “I am getting support from folks in the labor unions, the environmental groups, and women’s organizations as well as elected officials in Hazel Park and Ferndale. These folks have always been my ‘base’, along with seniors and the younger millennial voters.”
Endorsements from groups like the Victory Fund help remind people of the work Covey has done in the LGBT community – from the birth of the gay rights movement in Detroit, to founding an AIDS Activism organization, to fighting for a human rights ordinance for his community, to creating Ferndale Pride and being the first openly gay mayor elected in Michigan. “This race is without a doubt the most difficult race for me since I first began to run for public office,” Covey said. “Because of the Republican power grab and their redrawing the district lines, I am in competition with another popular Democrat and a friend. While this could end my 13 year career in local politics, I will work as hard as I can to stay in office and finish the work we started.”
For the record, Howley is remaining neutral in the County Commission primary races.
For more on Kevin Howley, check out his website at http://howleyforexecutive.com/. His page on the Victory Fund website is http://www.victoryfund.org/endorsed_candidates/profile/candidate:647.
For more on Craig Covey, check out his website at http://www.coveyforoakland.com/.
His page on the Victory Fund website is