2016-12-22 / Front Page

County chair stays on boards

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

“PEACHY” RENTENBACH chaired her last regular County Board meeting Tuesday evening and received a Certificate of Recognition for her four years of service on the board. She will chair one more meeting next Thursday, Dec. 29, as the board makes fiscal year-end budget adjustments. A Democrat, she lost her seat as the District No.6 commissioner in the Nov. 8 election to Republican Casey Noonan. “PEACHY” RENTENBACH chaired her last regular County Board meeting Tuesday evening and received a Certificate of Recognition for her four years of service on the board. She will chair one more meeting next Thursday, Dec. 29, as the board makes fiscal year-end budget adjustments. A Democrat, she lost her seat as the District No.6 commissioner in the Nov. 8 election to Republican Casey Noonan. Don’t say goodbye to Carolyn “Peachy” Rentenbach quite yet.

Having lost her seat as the District No. 6 Commissioner on the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners to Casey Noonan in the General Election, starting on Jan. 1 Rentenbach will no longer hold that post as well as chairmanship of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners.

However, in a series of split votes at meetings held Tuesday night and last week, the County Board has kept Rentenbach involved in county government as a member of two appointed bodies of local government.

Also on Tuesday evening, she was recommended by just-seated Glen Arbor Township supervisor Peter VanNort for an opening in the township Planning Commission. However, VanNort’s nomination failed to receive a second at the township’s monthly meeting.

“Am I saying goodbye to government service?” Rentenbach was quoted as saying in a Dec. 8 interview with the Enterprise during which she pushed for change in several areas. “No, I’m not.”

Rentenbach is currently serving as County Board representative on the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, a seat she must vacate when she is no longer a commissioner. Next month, however, she will replace another member of the Brownfield Authority, Frank Goodroe, who last week announced that he’s stepping down.

Goodroe had two years remaining on his three-year term. Rentenbach was appointed to the position Tuesday in one of those split votes.

It’s also possible that Rentenbach will be appointed to a seat on the county’s Land Bank Fast Track Authority in the future when one becomes available. For many years, the county’s practice has been to assign members of the Brownfield Authority to the Land Bank Authority because the work of the bodies overlaps.

However, the County Board as a policy seeks to limit the number of seats one person holds on committees.

Rentenbach was given a seat on the Benzie-Leelanau District Board of Health in a split vote of the County Board at last week’s executive meeting, held Dec. 13. A motion to re-appoint Marjorie McCullough to the Health Department board failed in a 3-4 vote and led to a 5-2 vote in favor of appointing Rentenbach in her place.

A retired Registered Nurse, McCullough is also an active member of the Leelanau Republicans. During a public comment opportunity at the County Board’s executive meeting last week, David McCullough said his wife is far more qualified than Rentenbach to serve on the Health Department board. At one point he called Rentenbach a “loser.”

Rentenbach noted that before running for elected office for the first time in 2012, she worked as a restaurateur and as a food company executive, experience that makes her familiar with Health Department regulations and procedures.

The County Board votes involving Rentenbach’s appointments to public bodies somewhat followed party lines, with important differences. In many cases, District No. 1 Commissioner Tony Ansorge, a Republican, cast swing votes in favor of appointing Rentenbach. District No. 2 Commissioner Debra Rushton, also a Republican, consistently opposed Rentenbach’s appointments.

Republicans Will Bunek and Melinda Lautner, representing Districts No. 3 and No. 7 respectively, shifted sides in a series of votes on the issue.

A motion by Lautner Tuesday to rescind the entire slate of County Board appointments made earlier in the meeting so the board could replace Rentenbach with McCullough as the Health Department appointee failed in a 4-3 vote. Ansorge sided with Democrats.

Rentenbach, 67, said she will likely seek the Democratic nomination for her commissioner seat representing Cleveland, Empire and Glen Arbor townships in the August 2018 Primary Election.

For the next two years, however, the District No. 6 seat on the County Board will be held by Noonan, 28, a Republican.

Rentenbach was the only incumbent member of the seven-member Leelanau County Board of Commissioners to be unseated in the Nov. 8 election. As of Jan. 1, 2017, the board will consist of two Democrats and five Republicans.

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