Republicans ousted from Delta County board after firing county administrator

Voters in Delta County went to the polls and recalled three of five county commissioners.

By Michigan Advance

May 10, 2024

BY JON KING, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—Voters in an Upper Peninsula community have successfully recalled three county commissioners, setting the stage for a change in direction.

While most of the media attention has been focused on Tuesday’s recall of Ottawa County Commissioner Lucy Ebel, a member of the right-wing Ottawa Impact organization, that same night voters in Delta County also went to the polls and recalled three of five county commissioners for their votes in February 2023 to fire County Administrator Emily DeSalvo.

DeSalvo, who had served as the county’s administrator since 2019, was fired immediately after she openly criticized the board for unethical and disrespectful behavior.

“I am concerned this board is more concerned about their political capital or personal gain than serving the county. The board’s recent elimination of the Ethics Committee supports this concern,” said DeSalvo at the board’s Feb. 7, 2023 meeting. “I will not be silent if I witness unethical behavior, so stop behaving in a manner which disrespects the office you hold in the community that you serve.”

The main issue that prompted DeSalvo to speak out involved the Delta Conservation District and its contract to oversee the county’s parks, which she said was not being handled in a transparent manner.

The board then voted 3-2 to terminate DeSalvo’s employment, with the three votes to do so coming from Republican Commissioners Robert Barron, David Moyle and Robert Petersen, each of whom was recalled Tuesday by voters.

Their respective challengers were Myra Croasdell, an independent, Kelli Van Ginhoven, a Democrat, and Matt Jensen, also an independent. They each won by an approximately 3-1 margin, with just under a 24% turnout rate, which Barron blamed for his loss.

“There was very poor voter turnout. The general public doesn’t realize the woke agenda that the newly elected have, which will be put into play very quickly,” Barron said in a statement to WLUC. “I’ll be running in the August primary, and we’ll see if the people of Delta County want that mob-rule type of governance or do they want the constitutional representative republic, which is the rule of God’s law.”

Jensen, however, told RRN News, that voters clearly wanted a new direction from the board.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your political party or ideology is,” he said. “At this level you need to be able to work with those in the community for the better good of our community. They [voters] really didn’t like the direction it was headed, or how it was being perceived, or how they were conducting business. You didn’t seem to have civility within the board. There was no decorum. We need more civility and agreeing to disagree on issues. I think the numbers definitely reflect that the people did not agree.”

Jensen added that he plans to seek a millage for the November ballot that would expand veterans services in Delta County.

However, the three new commissioners will only serve through the remainder of the year, and would need to win a full term in November. All six, both the recalled commissioners and their replacements, have filed to run in the August primary.

READ MORE: Voters recall far-right Ottawa Impact member from West Michigan county commission

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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CATEGORIES: POLITICS | ELECTION

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