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Wednesday, January 22,2014

Political notes from around town

Filling a vacancy when Hertel leaves, inauguration no-shows and saying goodbye to Ingham County’s director of animal control

by Walt Sorg

Filling a vacancy when Hertel leaves, inauguration no-shows and saying goodbye to Ingham County’s director of animal control

It’s highly likely Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. will resign mid-term to become state senator next year (the 23rd District has a 2-to-1 Democratic base) and replace Gretchen Whitmer. Hertel’s been campaigning for the Senate seat and racking up major endorsements, and his county-office term runs through 2016.

 

That leaves an opening for someone to occupy the position before the term expires, and preliminary maneuvering has already begun. County Commissioner Carol Koenig, D-East Lansing, Lansing School Board member Nicole Armbruster and Lansing City Councilman Derrick Quinney, the health and safety director of the state AFL-CIO, all appear interested in the job. Quinney is publicly non-committal; Armbruster said she is interested and Koenig said she’s “definitely interested” in the position.

While there’s been some talk about combining the deeds office with the county clerk to save money, it won’t happen. The idea was floated six years ago by Commissioner Randy Schafer, R-Williamston, when longtime Register of Deeds Paula Johnson retired, but it was rejected by the county board. Washtenaw County, for example, has combined the two offices.

Hertel opposes the consolidation. He says it likely would only save taxpayers about 5 cents each per year, and would dilute the office’s ability to advocate on behalf of consumers. Hertel has been a state leader in attacking mortgage and foreclosure abuses.

He also notes that the two offices could not be consolidated in mid-term. Should he resign, the law requires a successor to be appointed by a committee comprising County Clerk Barb Byrum, Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III and Probate Court Chief Judge Richard Garcia. Their choice would serve through the 2016 election and Byrum could not hold both offices.

Democrats, who dominate Ingham County politics, would be reluctant to then turn around and create a 2016 primary race between Byrum and the newly appointed register of deeds.

Kumbaya … for now Two Lansing City Council members were “no-shows” at last week’s inauguration ceremony for Mayor Virg Bernero, City Clerk Chris Swope and four members of Council. But the two absentees, Carol Wood and Jody Washington, cautioned against reading anything into their absences.

Wood said she was working at her City Hall office on constituent issues and “time just got away from me. When I looked up it was also 5 p.m. and I kept working,” Wood said in an email.

The change in the inauguration schedule, forced by the winter storm, tripped up Washington. She was babysitting a grandson while her son-in-law was having hip surgery. Washington had let the Mayor’s Office know she’d be unable to attend. After being contacted by City Pulse about her absence, the 1st Ward Councilwoman posted her explanation of the absence on her Facebook page.

One person who surprised some by attending: former Councilman Harold Leeman, who lost the mayoral election to Bernero. Leeman applauded from the audience as Bernero took the oath of office.

McAloon-Lampman says goodbye Ingham County Animal Control’s director, Jamie McAloon-Lampman, is leaving her post to become executive director of the McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, Tenn. Before coming to Mason she had run shelters in Battle Creek and Norman, Okla.

In her 10 years here, she has worked to promote adoptions of stray/abandoned pets. Last year she succeeded in not euthanizing any animals due to overcrowding at the Mason shelter. She capped off the year with a marathon animal foster care promotion before Christmas, placing dozens of cats and dogs in temporary homes over the holidays to relieve the strain on the shelter’s staff and space. Many of the animals were adopted by their “temporary” caretakers.

County Commissioner Todd Tennis, who chairs the Animal Control Shelter Advisory Committee, said he was sorry to see her go.

“Jamie has presided over Ingham County Animal Control during a time of award-winning service and progress both in the areas of animal welfare and public safety. She has helped make Ingham County’s animal control programs a leader in Michigan and around the country,” Tennis said.

McAloon-Lampman and her husband will be joined in the move south by their two horses, two dogs and two cats. All of the family critters, even the horses, were adopted from the Ingham County shelter.

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