ADRIAN – Five people were interviewed this week to represent District 2 on the Lenawee County Board of Commissioners.
Current District 2 Commissioner John Lapham, Township of R-Cambridge has announced his intention to step down from the board in September due to the growth of his business, Preferred Financial Solutions in Tecumseh. When he announced it, he said he was unable to give his county position the attention it deserves. His last official day on the board is December 31. He has served on the board since January 2015.
The council called for nominations from residents of District 2, which includes the townships of Cambridge, Rome and Woodstock, Onsted and the parts of Addison and Cement City that are in the Township of Woodstock. The five people who applied and were interviewed were Ron Bailey, Lindsey Brayton, Eric Cullum, Dustin Krasney and Scott Peters.
The board will deliberate and discuss its options to fill the vacant position at its Jan. 12 meeting, board chairman David Stimpson, R-Tecumseh said.
Candidates had 3 minutes to introduce themselves at the monthly board meeting on Wednesday. They were also asked three questions which were provided to them in advance:
- The County Commission is responsible for setting policy for many functions within county government. Please describe your understanding of the difference between formulating and establishing a policy for a specific function and developing and implementing an operational program prescribed by the policy.
- The County Commission has fiduciary responsibility over all funds entrusted and spent by the various departments of the county government. Please describe your experience or understanding of accounting for government funds or any other experience you have with budget preparation and financial reporting.
- As with all government operations, the Council of Commissioners operates in a transparent and open manner. Please describe what an open meeting means to you.
Bailey, former president of the village of Onsted and a member of the village council for 30 years, went first. He said that in addition to his experience in the village council, he was a firefighter for 35 years, including as a firefighter and EMS instructor. He said serving on the county board seemed like a natural progression from village government.
Regarding the question on policies and programs, he said that policies are made to improve situations and make black and white decisions.
âBefore, you could ask a manager to say, ‘You’re wrong’, and another manager walks up and says to an employee, ‘You are fine. Well, without a written policy, who is right? ” he said.
Implementing the policy requires knowing what the purpose of the policy is and delegating it to managers to make it operational, he said.
Bailey said he had experience with the Onsted Village budget, including government accounting requirements.
âAll funds are public,â he said. âIt makes it transparent to the public, and that’s what we want. ”
He said that when he was on the village council, the village always had “unqualified” audits, which meant auditors had no concerns.
The purpose of open meetings is to make government decision-making transparent, he said, noting exceptions in state law that allow closed sessions, such as employee matters, litigation, the purchase of real estate and collective bargaining.
Krasny said he has lived or spent time in the neighborhood all of his life. He is the regional director of operations for US Representative Tim Walberg. He said he also sits on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Lenawee.
He said board members should continuously analyze policies and programs to see if adjustments are needed to “improve the lives of constituents in the county.”
Krasney stressed the importance of being responsible with taxpayer funds.
âRight now there is a great distrust of government at all levels, and I think it is very important to have transparent protocols in place, ensuring strong fiduciary responsibility, is very important. important in earning the trust of our constituents and residents of Lenawee County, âhe said.
The state’s open meeting law is in place to earn the trust of “those who have given us the privilege of serving,” he said. He said the board should be “completely frank with the public”, use proper protocol and adhere to the disclosure requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
Cullum lives in Loch Erin and is on the owners board of directors. He said he worked for over 30 years as a patrol officer and narcotics investigator for the Dearborn Police Department, then worked twice with the state gaming control board and spent a year in Afghanistan training police officers.
While in the police service, he served on a union contract committee and the pension board. He is now president of the Dearborn Police and Fire Retirees Association.
He said that policy making starts with deciding if there is a problem to be addressed, and then policy formulation is like the police’s job of figuring out what, when, how and why before putting implement the policy. Part of implementing a policy was determining whether it is legal.
âAnother question is always: is this a problem? Is this something the commission needs to look at, or is it something that has already been done? ” he said.
Government accounting is “very heavy,” he said, because of tracking different sources of income and how the money is spent. He said that when he sat on the pension board, they followed the rules of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
Responding to the question about open meetings, Cullum said having discussions about what the government is doing in public helps to be able to go back and check the record to make sure things were done correctly.
âWe all know what happens when things are done in the dark,â he said.
Brayton said she, her husband and daughter lived on a small farm in Onsted. She said she was lucky that her husband’s job allowed her to stay home with their daughter. She runs a 4-H group, started a homeschool group, volunteers at her church, and sells children’s books. She worked as a teaching assistant in a special class, taught horseback riding and was a chaplain in a hospice.
âI didn’t want to become a commissioner for myself,â she said. “It’s not something I longed for, but it’s something I feel called to do, and I take calls very seriously.”
Policy making should involve brainstorming and troubleshooting where those involved can have a say in what goes into the policy. She gave an example of downtown parking. She said the policy would address parking rules, such as where, when and costs. The program would then address things like signs, meters and markings.
She said she worked for an accountant for over four years and had to reconcile files for more than 30 clients, help with payroll and help finalize tax returns. She was also an office manager for various companies where she was responsible for purchasing supplies and payroll. She said she also managed the finances of her own small businesses and was entrusted with the finances of her 4-H club, homeschool group and church programs.
She said she was not interested in government until about six months ago, but one of her neighbors started running classes on the Constitution, so she started to attend and s’ is interested in the workings of government and the history of the United States. This led her to start attending county board meetings.
âReal transparency happens first in meetings, where all citizens are allowed to come and listen to the meetings, find out what is going on and usually there is some kind of public commentary,â she said.
Peters was hired by Brazeway out of high school and advanced to where he now manages the refrigeration lab. He is a former member of the Onsted School Board.
âIt was the longest four years of my life, but I learned a lot,â he said.
He is a member of the Township of Rome Town Planning Commission and chairs the Buildings and Grounds Committee for the Baptist Church in West Rome.
On policy development and implementation, he said the board should let the ministry or agency do its job and get reports on whether the policies are working. He said the board needs to define the problem and determine if the policy will solve the problem along with the time and resources required.
Government funding, he said, is “far too complicated”. He said his school board experience had shown him that if “the going gets tough you have to make the cuts and you have to find what is best for the community and make the cuts where you can and not spend. more than what you do â.
Following the open assembly law, decisions can be made in public, he said.
“You have to make your decisions in a public meeting, they have to be recorded, you have to be able to go back and see how your commissioners or board members voted so that they can be held accountable”, did he declare.