The year of angry voters: Michigan county tosses out almost all county commissioners for overspending

This election year is unlike any I can remember, and unpredictable, but one major factor is the level of voter anger toward abuses by those who govern us.  Prepare for big surprises, and learn from the example of Emnet County, Michigan, where voters threw out 6 of 7 members of their county commission.  Anne Schieber Dykstra of Michigan Capitol Confidential reports:

While primary elections for local offices rarely garner much attention, the results of the August election were dramatic for one county in northern lower Michigan. Of seven members of the current county commission, only one will be on the fall ballot.

“I did not anticipate such a dramatic and historic turnover on the Emmet County board,” said Commissioner Charlie MacInnis, who ran unopposed in the primary. “The community clearly didn’t support the massive spending projects that were undertaken without adequate planning or voter approval.” Four of the seven incumbents lost primary contests while another two did not seek re-election.

Last year, county commissioners built a $1.7 million substation for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and planned to break ground on a $9 million “dark sky” observatory. MacInnis criticized both decisions.

Now, I am all for observatories, and I understand the issue of light pollution, requiring observatories to be built far, far from human settlements to keep the skies dark enough for research.  But why should taxpayers in a rural county with just over 32,000 people lay out millions for research that benefits all of mankind?

(I would also note that the low altitude, humidity in the air, and frequency of cloud cover make Emnet County not the most favorable site for observatories.  Desert sites on mountaintops are much better, as, for exmaple, the MacDonald Observatory in Fort Bend County, Texas.)  

As it turns out, one person made the difference in reversing the spending-spree pols’ control of the county coffers.

Nancy Sarowski, chairperson of the Emmet County Republican Party, pointed to MacInnis’ commentaries written in local newspapers to explain the election results. The commentaries gave details on county projects that the commissioner got through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Many people, at first, thought he was exaggerating: no contracts, except an hourly rate, no scope of project, no budget, no performance bonds and the like. When the sitting commissioners failed to rebut Charlie, the public began to pay attention,” she said.

Undoubtedly helpful was this video MacInnis made with the help of the Mackinac Center, parent of Michigan Capitol Confidential:

 

As you can see, Emnet County occupies some spectacularly beautiful real estate, on the Lake Michigan coast of the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.  It is heavily Republican.  I have been there a couple of times, attending the Interlochen music program a couple of summers in high school, and it is very empty, mostly.  There are wealthy nonresidents who maintain summer homes, especially on the lakefront, but mostly it is typically rural, with people independent, close to nature, and believing in individual responsibility.

Hat tip: Bryan Demko

This election year is unlike any I can remember, and unpredictable, but one major factor is the level of voter anger toward abuses by those who govern us.  Prepare for big surprises, and learn from the example of Emnet County, Michigan, where voters threw out 6 of 7 members of their county commission.  Anne Schieber Dykstra of Michigan Capitol Confidential reports:

While primary elections for local offices rarely garner much attention, the results of the August election were dramatic for one county in northern lower Michigan. Of seven members of the current county commission, only one will be on the fall ballot.

“I did not anticipate such a dramatic and historic turnover on the Emmet County board,” said Commissioner Charlie MacInnis, who ran unopposed in the primary. “The community clearly didn’t support the massive spending projects that were undertaken without adequate planning or voter approval.” Four of the seven incumbents lost primary contests while another two did not seek re-election.

Last year, county commissioners built a $1.7 million substation for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and planned to break ground on a $9 million “dark sky” observatory. MacInnis criticized both decisions.

Now, I am all for observatories, and I understand the issue of light pollution, requiring observatories to be built far, far from human settlements to keep the skies dark enough for research.  But why should taxpayers in a rural county with just over 32,000 people lay out millions for research that benefits all of mankind?

(I would also note that the low altitude, humidity in the air, and frequency of cloud cover make Emnet County not the most favorable site for observatories.  Desert sites on mountaintops are much better, as, for exmaple, the MacDonald Observatory in Fort Bend County, Texas.)  

As it turns out, one person made the difference in reversing the spending-spree pols’ control of the county coffers.

Nancy Sarowski, chairperson of the Emmet County Republican Party, pointed to MacInnis’ commentaries written in local newspapers to explain the election results. The commentaries gave details on county projects that the commissioner got through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Many people, at first, thought he was exaggerating: no contracts, except an hourly rate, no scope of project, no budget, no performance bonds and the like. When the sitting commissioners failed to rebut Charlie, the public began to pay attention,” she said.

Undoubtedly helpful was this video MacInnis made with the help of the Mackinac Center, parent of Michigan Capitol Confidential:

 

As you can see, Emnet County occupies some spectacularly beautiful real estate, on the Lake Michigan coast of the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.  It is heavily Republican.  I have been there a couple of times, attending the Interlochen music program a couple of summers in high school, and it is very empty, mostly.  There are wealthy nonresidents who maintain summer homes, especially on the lakefront, but mostly it is typically rural, with people independent, close to nature, and believing in individual responsibility.

Hat tip: Bryan Demko