Eight candidates apply to replace Commissioner Simasko

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

Eight residents have applied to fill a vacancy on the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners.

Fred Fuller, John French Jr., Scott Harris, James Marsh, Mike McGriff, Greg McConnell, Denise McKernan and Randy Schultz filed applications to replace 1st District Commissioner Steve Simasko — whose resignation became official Saturday.

Simasko announced in an open letter at the board’s Feb. 5 meeting that he would be resigning at the end of February so he could receive his county pension. His term runs through 2016.

In order to apply, candidates have to be registered voters and live in the district which includes Capac and Yale and the townships of Brockway, Clyde, Emmett, Grant, Greenwood, Kenockee, Lynn and Mussey.

The board of commissioners will choose Simasko’s replacement March 20.

Fred Fuller, 63, is a former Yale mayor and former county drain commissioner. He is running because he thinks his years in local government would provide a perspective that would benefit the board.

John French Jr., 52, of Greenwood Township, said he is at a time in his life when he wants to be more involved in county proceedings. French said he was tired of complaining and wanted to be in on the discussion.

Scott Harris, 50, of Grant Township, is running because of his interest in government and experience working on large projects.

James Marsh, 71, of Clyde Township, has done community service in the past and thinks this is another way to give back to the community.

Greg McConnell, 53, of Mussey Township, said he has knowledge with finances and budgeting and was already interested in becoming a commissioner a few years down the road.

Mike McGriff, 64, of Clyde Township, said he wants to bring diversity to the commission and help plan for the county’s future.

Denise McKernan, 32, of Kenockee Township, is running because she wants to offer her experience and dedication to the area.

Randy Schultz, 58, of Mussey Township, said he doesn’t want the western part of the county to be forgotten and intends to look out for its best interests.

County Administrator Bill Kauffman said the board will sit down and compare notes on each candidate at Thursday’s meeting. The board will then decide which applicants to interview.

A special meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 12 for the board to discuss the applicants. The finalist candidates will be interviewed at the commissioners’ regular meeting March 19. The final decision will be made at a special meeting March 20.

Kauffman said the board has one other option when it comes to filling Simasko’s seat.

State law gives the board has 30 days after the vacancy was created to find a replacement.

If the board does not act within those 30 days, an election would be held, which could take up to several months, Kauffman said.

“The board would like to avoid the cost of an election because that would further delay the lack of representation from the district,” Kauffman said.

The county began accepting applications for Simasko’s replacement on Feb. 16. The deadline was 4 p.m. Monday.

Simasko bid farewell to his colleagues in the closing minutes of Thursday’s meeting.

“It’s a business decision. I would have stayed on had it not been for the pension issue,” Simasko said at the meeting. “I love the people, I loved working with the board and I loved working for and on behalf of the community.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 2, 2015)

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