Ottawa County Board of Commissioners grabbed the steering wheel and course corrected
Published March 8, 2023
Written by Jefferson
Photography by Simply American
Imagine you’re on a long road trip with your spouse or friend. It’s late at night and you’ve been driving for hours. Fatigue sets in. You start to doze off and your car moves toward the center line and eventually crosses it.
A blaring horn and flashing lights in your path shocks you awake. You quickly give a sharp wrench to the wheel, steering to recover back to your lane. Crisis was averted, yet your passenger is likely startled and irritated.
Our county government has sleepily drifted to the political left for years. In their first week, the new Ottawa County Board of Commissioners grabbed the steering wheel and course corrected. Why did this cause such an uproar among some of the constituency? Maybe they were also asleep at the wheel, or along for the ride, and just jolted awake in the passenger seat.
What made the board’s actions shocking to some was that those actions were something the public isn’t used to seeing conservatives do: governing. One tenet of conservatism is limited government. As such, the default action of conservatives is oftentimes inaction in the name of limited government, or limited governance. So, when conservatives are elected into office with specific goals and actions to achieve, then actually follow through using the power entrusted in them by the people, it can seem like a foreign concept.
The new board followed through on their campaign promises (another foreign concept) by taking five notable actions their first week in office. They replaced the corporate counsel, bringing in the Kallman Legal Group, replaced John Shay with John Gibbs as county administrator, changed the county motto to “Where Freedom Rings,” dissolved the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DIE) office and replaced the county’s administrative health officer. If you followed their campaigns, none of this should have been a surprise. The uproar is due to the shock of being awakened to the blaring horn and flashing lights, as well as the shock of true conservatives governing. This begs the question: how does this compare to standard operating procedure for other elected officials assuming office?
After being sworn in, President Biden, on day one, signed not one, not two, not three, but seventeen executive orders. While county commissioners can create and execute policy, which the new commissioners did, Biden, through executive fiat and not the legislative process, pushed through seventeen orders from on high on day one. Some of Biden’s orders included forcing mask wearing in federal buildings, revoking the construction permit for the Keystone pipeline, dissolution of The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission and a halt to construction of the border wall, among others.
There are some interesting parallels in these in particular with what just took place in Ottawa County. Biden, not through the legislative process, but through executive fiat, ordered a mask mandate. The new county commissioners just hired, through their administrative process, a county administrative health officer who will make data based decisions and respect individual liberty. The new commissioners ended the divisive DEI Office and changed the county’s motto. Biden ended in-progress programs or projects, such as the Keystone pipeline and the border wall, and closed a “committee,” the 1776 Commission.
On a more local level, upon taking office in January of 2019, Gretchen Whitmer signed ten executive directives within her first two weeks. From the linked article, her activity was described as, “Whitmer’s executive directives so far reflect priorities she laid out on the campaign trail.” This is exactly what the new county commissioners did, only through the deliberative process, rather than by executive fiat.
Keeping Campaign Promises
Nothing the new board did is out of the ordinary, except for the fact that it is being done by conservatives.
The shock comes from being jarred awake from the slumber induced by so-called Republicans such as the progressive Roger Bergman, whose campaign signs were predominantly placed with far-left candidates around the community. Compared to the previous so-called Republican administration, these true conservatives keeping their campaign promises and upholding conservative values looks like a major shift.
Back to that long road trip—when the driver fell asleep and drifted over the centerline, he had to wrench the steering wheel rather forcefully, not to wildly go off course, but to course correct to the proper lane. And when he course corrected, which way did he wrench that steering wheel? To the right.