Kowall comes to county job with experience

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After years of public service as White Lake Township supervisor and in the state house and senate, former Senator Mike Kowall recently landed a job with Oakland County’s economic development department.

By the end of January, he didn’t have an official title, but he did know he will be working to boost the county’s business growth. Kowall was told he had the job the second week of January.

“I was with (Oakland County Executive L.) Brooks (Patterson) the other day, and I said, ‘Ok, boss what do you want me to do?’ and, he said, ‘I want you to do with the county with what you did in White Lake. I got my marching orders,” Kowall said.

Speaking to the press, Patterson said, Kowall has “an extraordinary record as a businessman and in public service. Oakland County will benefit greatly from his incomparable experience in business development as both a Michigan legislator and White Lake Township supervisor.”

“Oakland County is the second largest county in the state of Michigan, so experience matters,” Kowall said in a news release. “Encouraging economic development, ensuring sound infrastructure and protecting the investment our citizens make through their tax dollars has to be the top priority.”

Kowall, a Republican, started his public service with White Lake’s planning commission. He became chair of the commission a short time later and continued to serve with that body for about 13 years.

For four years, 1998 to 2002, he held a seat representing the 44th District in the Michigan House of Representatives, and he gained even more business savvy while sitting on the economic development committee. Kowall left the state house in 2002 and ended up in China and Mexico working on large intermodal transportation projects.

He went on to serve six years as White Lake Township’s supervisor from 2004 to 2010. In 2011, he was elected state senator representing the 15th District and kept the seat through 2018. He was a Republican candidate for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House, however, he lost that bid during the August 2018 primary.

During his service with the state, his wife, Eileen, a Republican state representative, was elected in the 44th District representing residents of Highland Township, White Lake Township, Springfield Township, Milford Township and part of Waterford Township. Mike and Eileen were considered a power couple and were the first married Michigan legislators in 25 years.

Now, he’s beginning a new chapter of his political career in Oakland County. 

Eye to the future 

“I’m looking forward to going up to Lansing and working with former colleagues to direct and redirect a lot of benefits with the state of Michigan toward Oakland county,” the 67-year-old White Lake resident said.

Kowall said he will be working with all the local units of government in the county. 

“There’s a lot of things going on,” Kowall said. “We have a tremendous amount of inquiries with autonomous vehicle companies along the I-96 corridor running through Lyon, South Lyon, Novi, Wixom and the Walled Lake area, along with a lot of other companies that are looking to come into Oakland County, as well as small business development.” 

First steps in politics 

Kowall said he began to hone his expertise in economic development while he was White Lake supervisor, “and how we attracted businesses and development along the M-59 corridor. That brought a lot of attention to the township and to myself.”

He described White Lake as a sleepy community when he came to township hall.

“There was farm land that wasn’t being cultivated and used, and it was in need of sewer and water,” he said.

Meijer came to the township and put in a water tower paving the way to the township and state working on sewer and water projects.

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