Ottawa County’s 1st District has secured a new County Commissioner after the Nov. 8 election

OTTAWA COUNTY, MI — Voters in Ottawa County’s 1st District will have a choice of two political newcomers to county council in the Nov. 8 election next month.

County 1st District includes Olive and Port Sheldon Townships and most of Park Township.

The district is currently represented by Republican Frank Garcia, who lost his August primary election to fellow Republican Gretchen Cosby in a close race. Cosby got 52% of the vote while Garcia got 48%.

In November, Cosby will face Democrat Danielle Smith for the county council seat.

Cosby is backed by the far-right conservative Republican group Ottawa Impact, which helped unseat several other Republican incumbents on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners in the August primary election.

In order to be approved by the Ottawa Impact, candidates had to sign a contract, promising to “thwart…the excesses of the government”, not to allow parents’ rights to “retain control of the care and their children’s education” from being controlled by the government. , and oppose all resolutions that curtail civil liberties in times of crisis. The contract also calls for candidates to promise to remove Ottawa County from the Government Alliance for Race and Equity, any county association with Planned Parenthood, and oppose the teaching of critical theory of race in schools.

Cosby describes herself as a constitutional conservative and is a nurse. She previously served as Chair of the Nursing Leadership Committee and as a member of Resthaven’s Board of Directors.

Smith is vice president of global human resources at Shape Corp. and mother of two Ottawa West Public School students. She serves on the Human Resources Advisory Board for Grand Valley State University and Talent 2025.

MLive/The Grand Rapids Press has partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information to readers. Each candidate was asked to state their positions on a variety of public policy issues listed below.

All answers in the voter’s guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary trimming if an answer exceeded character limits. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. Publication of candidates’ statements and opinions is in the public service interest only and should NOT be considered an endorsement. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.

Information on other state, county and local primary races can be found at Vote411.org.

From this list, rate your top 3 priorities for the Ottawa County Commissioner’s office: infrastructure and road funding, land use, water quality, social services, tax reduction, security, elderly funded by county-wide mileage, redistricting – county commissioner’s allowance . Discuss briefly.

Cosby:

“1. Proposed primary use of agricultural land for solar panels and decreasing water table for many in our community. 2. Increase in number of short term rentals along the shores of the lake. 3. Responsiveness community mental health to citizens who need their resources.

Black-smith:

“All of these are important, but I’m very passionate about the three below: Social Services: To maintain a strong and vibrant community, we need to attract and retain diverse talent. Providing a wide range of social services is key to ensuring that our residents have the resources they need to thrive and contribute positively within our community. Water Quality: The significant decline in groundwater supply is a serious issue facing our county. I fully support accelerating partnership with farmers and watershed organizations to develop policies that are imperative for future economic and population growth. Redistricting: I was involved in Voters Not Politicians’ early efforts to raise awareness and commit to drawing constituencies in a fair and transparent manner. I will continue to support the work that has been done by non-partisan advice as well as efforts to protect voter access and accuracy.

The county commissioners have done an effective job running the county over the past two years. Do you agree or disagree? Briefly explain.

Cosby:

“I disagree that the county commissioners have done an effective job and that is why I am running for this position. In August or 2021 the county commissioner did not listen to more than 1000 parents from our community, who attended the county commissioner’s meeting on a working day Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., parents were asking the commissioners not to mask their children for a second school year. Instead of listening to the objective data submitted by parents, county commissioners abdicated their responsibility by creating a “new” role in the health department, that of health officer Why did the county need a health officer when the county employs a doctor, medical director?

Members of the community, with whom I have interacted during my campaigning efforts, signal that they are ready for a change in government, they want to see a new people, capable of work, of the community take on the roles, serve then step aside for the next, community member to take their place.

Black-smith:

“I believe the County Commissioners have done an overall effective job of leading the county through a very turbulent environment, facing complex challenges brought about by the pandemic where there was no past experience and clear data on which lean. That said, I think the commission has struggled to communicate clearly with our community during the pandemic, which has inflamed tensions and created controversy. I am running because I believe it is possible for our commission to develop stronger communication strategies and become more proactive and engage with businesses and various community organizations.

What are your strategies for meeting with your district to get local insight into important county decisions?

Cosby:

“Ottawa County District 1 has 3 unique townships within its borders. If elected, I plan to attend monthly township board meetings, both to learn about issues and in turn share county information with all 3 boards. I plan to lead citizen roundtables, bringing together stakeholders who will be impacted by: sale of farmland, budget allocations, zoning and county departments.

The commissioners are obligatorily members of the departmental committees of the county. If elected, I hope to be able to select the committees I will serve on, and then plan, prepare and attend each committee meeting. As Nurse Leader my responsibility was 24/7, I made sure to take all phone calls and answer all emails no matter what time or day they received. This practice has prevented larger problems from developing, saved lives, and helped me gain the trust of my team. My plan, if elected, is to apply the same communications strategy to my role as County Commissioner.

Black-smith:

“My primary strategy will be to effectively engage with our residents by being accessible and visible within our community and taking the time to listen, debate and build consensus when necessary to drive positive change. . I will draw on my 20+ years of experience building relationships between diverse stakeholder groups by seeking understanding through empathy and listening, taking time to gather meaningful data and analysis comparisons, and working in collaboration with my fellow Commissioners and stakeholder groups.

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