Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 9, 2013

East Bay having trouble filling park positions

Officials scramble for candidates; then two elected don't show


TRAVERSE CITY — First East Bay Township couldn't find enough people to run for seven open seats on its park commission.

Once it did, two newly elected parks commissioners failed to show.

"For some reason, no one is interested in this job," said Leslie Couturier, parks commission chair.

The township's trouble finding folks to serve on the commission dates back to the filing deadline for the 2012 August primary. The date slipped by last year with nary a candidate for the park commission in sight.

Township officials reached out, and five people took a shot in August as write-ins, including Couturier, the lone hold-over from the previous park board.

Supervisor Glen Lile had to talk her into it.

"I'm planning to move into town, but Glen talked me into staying on the board until I move just to give it some continuity," Couturier said.

The board oversees policy and planning for the township's seven parks and generally meets just once a month. The job pays $100 a meeting.

Couturier and two others made the November general election ballot, but two Democratic write-ins failed to garner the requisite 15 votes to qualify for the general election.

Officials reached out again with advertising and personal contacts.

The two Democrats, Jeffrey Brown of Peninsula Trail and Andrew Johnson of Trager Road, took another shot as write-ins along with Mindy Walters and former township trustee Butch Strait. Walters finished last with just six votes, but it only took one to win so the commission was full.

Until Brown and Johnson became no-shows.

Township terms began Nov. 20 and the two never showed up to a meeting or to take their oath of office, said Sue Courtade, township clerk.

Township officials called and sent letters and emails, but the men never responded.

Brown declined to comment and Johnson did not return messages left by the Record-Eagle.

Under state law the seats became vacant as of Jan. 1, Courtade said. Now the board must find two people to fill the seats by Valentine's Day or they will have to schedule a special election.

The board talked about converting the commission to an appointed body but it takes a vote of the people and the board had no interest in pursuing it, Lile said.

Anyone interested in a position should contact the township at 947-8647.