I was heartened to see a change in leadership occur at the special Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners meeting Sunday. Jeremy Root had resigned his chairman post earlier in the day. Four of the seven commissioners — Brandon Marks, Marlene Webster, Greg Brodeur and John Plowman attended and heard comments from a crowd of hundreds of understandably angry residents. These actions are important steps on the long road toward restoring the public trust.
This followed a nationally criticized attempt to award COVID-19 hazard pay bonuses to commissioners and other county elected officials, including $25,000 to Root. Some commissioners have stated that the proposal was hidden within what was discussed as bonuses for county employees only.
Shiawassee voters have entrusted Republicans with more elected leadership within our region in each successive election. It is the responsibility of elected Republicans who have been granted the honor of serving this county to hold true to the values our hard-working taxpayers expect. Chief among these is effective, transparent and conservative stewardship of public funds. It’s simply not our money.
While Root resigned his chairman role, he has refused to step down from his commission seat. His continued deflection of blame and refusal to face residents at the public meeting show that he still takes no responsibility for his actions. This is untenable and denies effective representation to his constituents in greater Byron and Bancroft. Absent his resignation, a recall effort is almost certain to be launched followed by his removal in disgrace.
Root should resign his board seat immediately and allow the commission and community to move forward.
The board has some difficult work ahead of it and must be willing to follow the facts wherever they lead. It is imperative that commissioners both listen and lead while continuing to root out any further impediments to operating effectively and with transparency. The public expects nothing less.