Saturday, September 01, 2007

Replacing Bill French

Bill French, Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner remains in a coma after suffering a stroke while vacationing in Florida.

This created a problem for Kalamazoo County, since the drain commissioner needs to sign various documents necessary for building projects to proceed. With French incapacitated, these projects could not go forward. The law allowed French to designate a temporary replacement to do the job in his absence, but French did not do so before heading to Florida.

State law allowed other county officials to appoint a replacement for any incapacitated countywide office-holder--except the drain commissioner. The position of drain commissioner didn't exist when that statute was drafted.

In what must be a new record for government efficiency, a bill was rushed through the state legislature in a few days to amend the statute to allow for temporary replacements for incapacitated drain commissioners.

County Prosecutor Jeff Fink and Clerk Tim Snow, the officials in charge of making the selection, solicited applications a few days ago. They have received no fewer that twenty-seven applications. The applicants are:

Ansari, of Portage; Awe, of Kalamazoo; Cornelius J. Baden, of Portage; Michael E. Boersma, of Oshtemo Township; Walter E. Calhoun, of Richland Township; Thomas K. Cogswell, of Ross Township; Patricia Crowley, of Richland Township; Jose Escandon, of Richland Township; Gregory Ferris, of Alamo Township; Richard L. Fogarsi, of Portage; Ralph L. Freed, of Kalamazoo; Fred Gemlich, of Brady Township; Gregersen, of Climax Township; David W. Henson Jr., of Kalamazoo; Marion R. Hill, of Oshtemo Township; Patrick R. Hudson, of Kalamazoo Township; James Jenkins, of Comstock Township; Henry A. Kerr, of Portage; Patrick Krause, of Comstock Township; Stephen Lewis, of Kalamazoo; Steven M. Mejeur, of Texas Township; Gary J. Miller, of Brady Township; Mark E. Miller, of Kalamazoo Township; William Reed, of Pavilion Township; Alvin G. Ritsema, of Kalamazoo; Carolyn Rutland, of Cooper Township; and Richard C. Walsh, of Kalamazoo Township.
The best-known applicant is Nasim Ansari, a Kalamazoo County Commissioner representing northern Portage. Ansari, a conservative Muslim, is probably the favorite for the position. He is well-qualified, with a good education and much experience in local government, including "serving as a member of Portage Ground Water Commission and later as its elected councilor".

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