By Ralph Echtinaw
County commissioners John Lemmermann and Sam Smith took one of their colleagues to task Tuesday for talking trash about county government at a We the County meeting on May 4.
(We the County is an activist group run by Alma resident Yvette Clark and meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at the Resurrection Life Church in St. Louis.)
Lemmermann and Smith mentioned no names, but St. Louis resident Robi Rodriguez confirmed that Jan Bunting was the sole sitting county commissioner who spoke at the May 4 meeting.
“I was contacted by someone who attended a We The County meeting and told me about a commissioner who spoke in very disparaging terms about the county; talked about embezzlement, talked about having a forensic audit,” Lemmermann said. “It seemed very egregious and very smearing to me. I did not like the sound of it. It just felt like the whole county had been slimed. Now it’s one thing to do that, and I don’t know of anything in place that’s going to trigger a forensic audit. However it’s another thing if a commissioner has knowledge of some kind of criminal activity and is not coming forward with it, intending an August primary surprise or an October surprise.
“If there is such a thing out there I would very much appreciate it if that subject would be brought forward. And if there were any other commissioners attending that same meeting and they did not speak up when these comments were made I feel like that is just as bad.”
Lemmermann joined the county commission in January 2021 after being elected in November 2020. “In some ways when I came on the board I was somewhat of a patsy myself, very suspicious of everything,” he said. “What I’ve found since I’ve been on is that (administrators are) very open, very transparent and very available. I can ask questions until I’m blue in the face and they say ‘Do you have more questions? How else can we help you? What else can we do?’ I’m proud of the county. I’m proud of how things are going. I would very much appreciate it if there is any knowledge of any criminal activity going on that it be dealt with immediately.”
Commissioner Sam Smith spoke up in support of Lemmermann. “If there is a criminal act, then let’s catch it,” he said. “If there isn’t criminal activity and you’re going about saying there is then you’re probably not fit to be here, because you’re doing nothing but spreading rumors. If it’s true, let’s do it, let’s catch them and get it wrapped up. And if it’s not true, maybe that person aught to look at doing something different. So I think it’s doing nothing but disparaging this county when the bulk of us are trying get this thing moving forward and I think we’ve done a pretty fair job in the last five or six years.”
The commissioners left it there and proceeded with the bulk of their meeting. You can see the comments of Lemmermann and Smith on the You Tube video of the commission meeting. Their comments begin at the 10 minute, 20 second mark.
This reporter is a candidate for county commission in District 2 and will face off against Bunting in the Aug. 2 Republican primary. Furthermore, this reporter is treasurer of the Gratiot County Republican Party, on which Murphy is chair. Smith, Bailey, Bunting and Lemmermann are dues-paying members.