Grand Traverse County trimmed its county board membership from nine members to seven this year, and voters will select from incumbents and challengers in four contested races.
One such race — the First District — features incumbent Commissioner Ross Richardson and challenger Dan Lathrup.
Richardson, of Traverse City, seeks his third term on the county board. He's one of the precious few bright lights on the board, a thoughtful, studious sort who's well-versed on local issues, isn't afraid to challenge the status quo and has shown a penchant for standing up for programs that benefit senior citizens. Richardson is the board's lone Democrat and may be threatened because a redistricting plan this year lumped conservative Peninsula Township into his territory.
Challenger Dan Lathrop, of Peninsula Township, is a Republican who said several people urged him to run for the board. He opposes a special tax on septic tank users, but Lathrop hasn't shown an overly strong grasp of that or other top county topics.
Richardson is a moderate who has shown he can work well with county board Republicans. This is an instance that would behoove First District voters to overlook political party affiliations and support the best person for the job. Ross Richardson is a proven commodity who's earned re-election and our endorsement.