Two years of organizing and campaigning culminated the morning of January 3, 2023, when the newly elected commissioners changed the face of Ottawa County government.
The board of commissioners, now dominated by members of the Ottawa Impact political group, installed John Gibbs as the new county administrator. Mr. Gibbs reports directly to the county commissioners.
The 11-member board, comprised for the first time with five women and six men, took the following actions:
- Elected Commissioners Joe Moss and Sylvia Rhodea respectively as chair and vice-chair.
- Selected a new law firm to serve as its legal advisor.
- Abolished the county’s office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.
- Appointed Nathanial Kelly as its new health officer.
- Adopted a new county motto, “Where Freedom Rings.”
- Named a new administrative director to serve the board of commissioners.
Chairman Moss also appointed the chairs and members of the board’s five standing committees:
- Gretchen Cosby, Finance and Administration
- Roger Belknap, Planning and Policy
- Sylvia Rhodea, Health and Human Services
- Joe Moss, Board Rules
- Allison Miedema, Talent and Recruitment
As is true of most legislative bodies, county commissioners do a great deal of their research, debate and deliberation during committee meetings. The committees then bring recommendations forth for action by the full county board.
Mr. Moss also appointed commissioners to serve on nearly three dozen boards and commissions such as the Central Dispatch Authority, Kent-Ottawa-Muskegon County Free Trade Zone, Community Mental Health, and the Agricultural Preservation Board.
Commissioners also serve on other boards dealing with economic development, parks and recreation, veterans’ affairs, solid waste disposal, and more.
As Commissioner Rhodea pointed out during the organization meeting, the commissioners – like the county administrator — invest a lot of time representing The People of Ottawa County.
The meeting was located in the commissioners’ chambers at the county’s Fillmore Complex and lasted approximately five hours.