BOC supports adopting four-year terms

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published June 9, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — While the Michigan Legislature still needs to vote on it, commissioners in Macomb County are mostly in support of four-year terms.

At the May 27 Macomb County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board approved, in a 11-2 vote, supporting the passage of legislation to adopt four-year terms for county commissioners. Commissioners Julie Matuzak and Jeff Farrington voted no.

Currently in Macomb County, BOC elections are held every two years.

The resolution states that the 1963 Michigan Constitution stipulated four-year terms for the county Board of Supervisors, the preceding body to today’s Board of Commissioners.

A 1966 public act promulgated that the length of terms for the new county commissioners shall be concurrent with that of state representatives.

“The scope of duties of a county commissioner has greatly increased in the last century — road patrols, indigent defense, mental health treatment and substance abuse prevention programming, solid waste pick-up and disposal, food and water supply safety, park operations, economic development efforts, emergency management and response,” it states.

It adds that Michigan is one of only five states in the country that provides for exclusively two-year terms for county commissioners. All other county and township elected officials in Michigan are elected to terms of at least four years.

Matuzak, who represents Clinton Township, said she is against the resolution.

“I believe that two-year terms, while arduous, as any state or federal rep will tell you, puts us in close contact with constituents out of necessity,” she said.

The resolution notes that legislation to amend state law to enact four-year terms has been filed in the form of a couple of Senate bills.

It ends that the Board of Commissioners supports Senate bills 242 and 245 to enact four-year terms for county commissioners.

Senate Bill 242 reads that the term of office of each commissioner elected before the 2024 general November election shall be concurrent with that of state representatives.

“The term of office of each commissioner elected at or after the 2024 general November election is four year,” it reads.

Commissioner Mai Xiong represents Center Line and part of Warren and said that four-year terms allow for new commissioners, like herself, to do a better job in her third and fourth year.

“I feel two years is so short,” she said. “You’re campaigning every other year, and it’s very expensive to campaign.”

Veronica Klinefelt, who represents Eastpointe, Grosse Pointe Shores, St. Clair Shores and part of Warren, said in two-year terms, commissioners aren’t in contact with voters more often.

“You are more reliant on donors and more answerable to donors,” she said. “Six-year terms are too long, and you’re not answerable to the public often enough and you become aloof. Four-year terms for everybody is just right.”

Also at the meeting, the county extended a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site lease to the end of June.

Since December, the former Baker College campus site, at 34401 Gratiot Ave. in Clinton Township, has been used for COVID-19 testing. Funding for the extension is available through CARES Act funding for $10,000 a month.

In the last month, Vicki Wolber, deputy county executive, said over 3,000 tests were conducted at the site and that, now, it’s less than 100 tests a day.

Wolber added that also in the last month, 60,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Macomb County.