By Ralph Echtinaw
Gratiot County Commissioners voted 3-2 on Oct. 4 to appoint David Ringle, 40, of Arcada Township, to fill a vacancy on the county planning commission.
Diandra Messer, 24, of St. Louis and Bonnie Gustavison, 67, of Sumner, were the other applicants.
“I know all three of them and recommend that we approve and appoint Mr. Ringle,” said Commissioner George Bailey. “(He has) served in many different capacities. He’s very familiar with Gratiot County.”
Indeed, Ringle already serves on the Arcada Township board and planning commission as well as the Gratiot Area Water Authority and Gratiot County GIS Authority. His day job is public services director in Alma.
Ringle was recommended by Planning Commission Chair Karla Childers in a letter to commissioners: “Mr. Ringle brings deep experience in the planning process, in interpretation of codes, ordinances and regulations, and has served extensively on local government boards, commissions and authorities,” she wrote.
Commission Chair Chuck Murphy indicated that he supported Gustavison. But his hands were tied after Bailey nominated Ringle and John Lemmermann seconded the motion.
Bunting suggested taking a vote on each of the three applicants.
“I guess we could do that if you want to,” Murphy replied.
Then he changed direction and said: “We do have a motion on the floor. So I guess if you want to vote for someone else you should vote no (against Ringle).”
A roll call vote ensued with Lemmermann, Sam Smith and Bailey voting yes. Bunting and Murphy voted no.
Republican party connection
Murphy and Bunting are active members of the Gratiot County Republican Party, as is planning commission applicant Gustavison, whom Murphy supported over Ringle and Messer. Gustavison, a retired nurse, is treasurer of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (Region 10) and involved with a local activist group called We the County. She ran for county commission this year as a Republican against Smith, who beat her 661-400 in the August primary. Messer is deputy permits officer for Gratiot County.
The planning commission vacancy was created by the resignation of Marc Raycraft, 75, earlier this year.
Ringle’s first planning commission meeting begins 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, in Gratiot County’s Ithaca headquarters.