, cabinet member to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, is ambassador to the county's southend -- a diverse land of liberals, union members and retirees on fixed incomes.
, whose county job pays her
$72,000 a year, learned to schmooze by attending 19 schools by age 19.Once on the job, her
party affiliation "really didn't make a difference," said Don Fracassi, former mayor of Southfield.
Since then, Chamberlain
has "healed a lot of wounds," Fracassi said.
"I thought it would be a positive thing for Woodward Avenue, never dreaming it would be so big," Chamberlain
sent House to chambers of commerce up and down Woodward, then joined a committee overseeing the first cruise in 1995.
As the Dream Cruise swelled to become the world's biggest one-day car extravaganza, Chamberlain
ran its board meetings like a vintage muscle car -- alternately purring and growling -- as she
led the sometimes fractious group of seven cities that operates the Dream Cruise.
Last year, officials in Birmingham and Pleasant Ridge voted to pull out of the group unless it met their special demands -- including one from Birmingham that the Dream Cruise change its date.Ultimately, without Chamberlain kowtowing to either city, both stayed.
...Last month, Chamberlain stepped down as president of Woodward Dream Cruise Inc., remaining a board member.She
said it was time to give up the unpaid position that took hundreds of hours a year. Her
job with the county is permanent, however, Patterson said.
retires or leaves, I'd be hard-pressed to find someone with her
qualifications, but I would try because the south end deserves that voice in county government," he
said.Chamberlain's turf runs from diversity havens in Ferndale, Oak Park and Southfield to traditional enclaves in Berkley and Royal Oak; and from blue-collar bastions in Clawson, Hazel Park and Madison Heights to upscale pockets in Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.
To link those competing voices, she
helped found coalitions, including the Oak Park Business and Education Alliance
, a key booster of that city's public schools.Chamberlain's political stripes date to the 1970s when, while raising four children, she
became active in Republican circles.She
was a delegate to Gerald Ford in the 1976 GOP convention.
From 1986 through 1993, she
headed what was then a joint chamber of commerce for Oak Park and Royal Oak, tripling membership and quadrupling the budget in five years.
Contact BILL LAITNER at 248-586-2608. ....................
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