2017-01-05 / Front Page

Bunek to lead Co. Bd.

Takes just one vote, unanimous
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


WILL BUNEK, the District No. 3 Commissioner, was elected chairman of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners at its organizational meeting Tuesday morning in a 7-0 vote on the first and only ballot. WILL BUNEK, the District No. 3 Commissioner, was elected chairman of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners at its organizational meeting Tuesday morning in a 7-0 vote on the first and only ballot. Unlike the last time the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners picked a new chairman two years ago, there was no drama surrounding the selection of District No. 3 Commissioner Will Bunek this week.

At its organizational meeting held Tuesday morning, the board voted 7-0 on the first ballot to name Bunek, a Republican, as chairman of the board for the next two years

Bipartisan agreement on the biennial decision was remarkable in relation to recent history. Two years ago, District No. 6 Commissioner Carolyn (Peachy) Rentenbach, a Democrat, was elected chairman by her peers only after multiple votes were cast on the issue, with the board split along party lines on most of the votes.

However, the partisan balance on the board went from three Democrats and four Republicans last year to a 5-2 Republican advantage this year. The shift resulted from the election Nov. 8 of Republican Casey Noonan to the District No. 6 seat, replacing Rentenbach.

The motion to name Bunek chairman came from arguably the most liberal Democrat on the board, District No. 4 Commissioner Ty Wessell, and was seconded by arguably the most conservative Republican on the board, District No. 2 Commissioner Debra Rushton.

Until the votes were cast, the board’s organizational meeting was chaired by Leelanau County Clerk Michelle Crocker. After the vote, Bunek assumed his position at the end of the commissioner’s table and took possession of the gavel.

“I am very humbled by the support the rest of the board has given me,” Bunek said. “I will do my very best.”

Two years ago, Bunek nominated himself for the chairmanship, but his motion failed in a tie vote.

The election of vice chairman, a one-year position, didn’t go as smoothly this year as the vote for chairman.

District No. 5 Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little, a Democrat, nominated Wessell for the vice chairmanship. Her motion was supported by District No. 1 Commissioner Tony Ansorge, a Republican.

The motion to appoint Wessell failed in a 4-3 vote, however. Only Ansorge sided with the two Democrats on the vote.

Rushton then nominated District No. 7 Commissioner Melinda Lautner for the vice chairman’s slot. Rushton’s motion was supported by Noonan.

Although Lautner is the longest-serving member of the County Board, she has never served as chairman. She’s been nominated several times.

She has a long history of serving as vice chairman, however, and will again this year following a 4-3 vote of the board.

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