Mackinac Policy Conference's man of billboards



Bill Wild

If you've recently driven along Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit you've probably noticed Bill Wild's name. It's plastered across an entire storefront on the west side of the corridor near Campus Martius.

Wild, the current mayor of Westland, is running for Wayne County Executive -- and the advertising blitz in support of his candidacy is prevalent. Those attending the annual Mackinac Policy Conference this week, the annual gala on Mackinac Island that features most of Michigan's movers and shakers, were almost certain to take notice: Wild's camp purchased a handful of billboards along I-75 near the island, hundreds of miles away from his hometown and the county he's hoping to run.

We wondered what the deal was, and (perhaps in a sign of Wild's presence) was immediately directed by his team to just ask. The answer was unsurprising. (And, later we'd find, something they personally took note of.)

"We're just setting ourselves up for the conference here," Wild says. "We actually kicked off our campaign last year at the policy conference, we're a year into this... and the billboard's will hep create the buzz."

Asked about current County Executive Bob Ficano's plan to slash $175 million in debt, Wild says portions of the plan are sound, like the use of $81 million from the delinquent tax revolving fund. But, he says, Big Bob's plan to sell the county's wastewater treatment facilities could be an issue. The county contends the sale would generate a $121 million profit.

If that's the case, some mayors representing downriver communities where the facilities are located have offered a different perspective, Wild says.

"I've talked with those mayors, and the number I've heard is $2 million," Wild says. "So there's a big gap there."

Ficano is expected to arrive on the island later in the week.

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