McConnell appointed as new 1st District commissioner

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

Three weeks after former commissioner Steve Simasko resigned, the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners have found a replacement.

The board appointed Greg McConnell as its First District commissioner on a motion of 4-2 in Thursday’s full board meeting. Commissioners Howard Heidemann and Karl Tomion voted against the appointment.

McConnell, a Mussey Township resident, was sworn in and took his seat among the other commissioners.

“It feels good,” he said after the meeting was adjourned. “It’s been a short process and I’m very grateful to have the chance to see what can happen.”

McConnell was in Florida with his family last week when a special meeting was held to select three finalists out of the nine applicants. At the time, the board conducted an interview over the phone to allow McConnell to introduce himself.

The other two finalists who spoke Thursday night included Grant Township resident Scott Harris and James Marsh of Clyde Township.

Each commissioner asked questions, which ranged from the candidate’s experience in handling budgets to representing the county as a whole.

Commissioner David Rushing asked each candidate if they were applying to fill a space or if they were intent on running for the next election.

McConnell said he plans on running again after completing Simasko’s current term, which he called a “22-month learning curve.” The term ends in November 2016.

Commissioner Tom Reilly asked what McConnell would do if faced with a difficult decision.

“You have to represent your constituents, but you have to look at the big picture,” McConnell said. “There will be a lot of times when decisions are made that will not make everyone in your district happy.”

In his closing comments, McConnell said he will always be honest with the board on where he stands on an issue.

“I don’t pull any punches,” he said. “You will not have to worry about what I’m thinking.”

Other business

County Administrator Bill Kauffman gave the commissioners an update on the Blue Water Convention Center.

Kauffman said they will announce what day the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening for the convention center will be at the State of the County address March 27.

Kauffman also said he expects the convention center to remain on budget while a few more punch list items are addressed.

The board approved the proposal to purchase a new dispatch and records management system called the Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System. The proposed 2015 fees for acquiring the CLEMIS system will be about $104,000, with nearly $49,000 going toward a one-time installation cost.

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 19, 2015)

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