Senator Gregory, under his constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 204 and moved that the statement he made during the discussion of the bill be printed as his reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Gregory’s statement is as follows:
I rise in opposition Senate Bill No. 204. I rise in opposition to Senate Bill No. 204 because it will take away the rights of Michigan residents to choose in a special election who will represent their best interest as a county commissioner.
Senate Bill No. 204 would allow a person appointed to fill a county commission vacancy to remain in that position for the remainder of that term, rather than when a special election is called, as is the current practice. An example of this would be if a person filled a vacant position in April 2013, they would stay in that position until December 31, 2014, even though municipal elections, both a primary and a general election, would have been held in 2013.
Part of the argument is that by not holding a special election, this would save money. However, if elections are held in conjunction with municipal elections, there would be very little cost or no extra cost at all. Yet even if there is some cost, what about the vote of the people. The current law has been in effect for over 50 years with very few problems or complaints from the voters. Why change it now?
Could this bill be politically motivated? In my county of Oakland, the Board of Commissioners controlled by Republicans would make any appointment to the Board of Commissioners. This bill would then give the Republican majority the ability to appoint a Republican to a vacant, long-held Democratic county commission seat for the remainder of the vacant term, possibly as long as 20 months.
I was reminded by my colleague from Wayne County that the Wayne County Commission is controlled by Democrats, so the same thing will be applicable in Wayne County. If you had a vacancy in a Republican seat, the Democratic commissioners could appoint that person, and they would hold that seat for an additional 20 months even though the area may have been a long-held Republican area.
Another point is county commissioners are on the same election cycle as State Representatives. That is, they take office on the odd year. Yet regardless of the cost of an election, there will never ever be any talk of eliminating special elections for state representatives. My question is what makes a county commissioner position so much less important than a State Representative?