GUEST COLUMN: It’s time for commissioners to act like leaders and compromise

Judy Daubenmier

Our county commissioners consider themselves leaders. Right now, they’re acting like anything but.

The currently eight-member board has deadlocked 4-4 in four separate votes over filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Donald Parker. No one is willing to budge. If no one budges at a special meeting Thursday morning, the residents of County Commission District 5 will be without a voice on the board until after a special election, most likely in August.

On top of that, the board is likely to deadlock on other important issues between now and August. It won’t be able to carry out its basic duty of running the county.

It’s time to try something completely different.

Rather than permanently tipping the balance on the board one way or another by selecting one of the three Republican applicants, the board should opt for the Democrat, Glen Miller, and they should do it unanimously.

This solution has much to recommend it.

With a unanimous vote, Miller would not be beholden to either faction on the commission. He might vote with the Bezotte-Nakagiri-Green-Helzerman faction on some issues. On others, he might vote with the Dolan-Griffith-Lawrence-Childs faction. It will depend on the issue and how each side makes its case. Miller will be free to decide each issue based on the merits as he sees them, not based on loyalty to one faction or the other.

Without a compromise like this, the residents of the city of Howell and the townships of Cohoctah and Howell will be without a voice on the commission until August. That is unjust and un-American. It is taxation without representation.

Without a compromise, voters in District 5 will face a bewildering series of ballots – perhaps a primary vote in May, a special election in August and at the same time another primary for the November election, and then finally an election in November for the new two-year term.

Without a compromise, the board is likely to deadlock 4-4 on other issues that come before them in coming months. Will it be able to carry out its basic responsibilities of running the county? Will it also deadlock on selecting a new county administrator? Probably, and that is why each side has dug in its heels to avoid giving the other side the 5th vote.

The board risks becoming dysfunctional. It risks looking ridiculous.

If they truly are leaders, they need to use this compromise to get out of the stalemate they have put themselves in.

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