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Kalamazoo County picks next interim administrator and board leaders

Kalamazoo County Administration Building - file photo from WMUK

In a politically charged decision, the Kalamazoo County board has picked a new Interim Director to step in when the current administrator steps down in two weeks.

The Board voted 6 to 4 Tuesday night to appoint Current Health Director Jim Rutherford to serve as Interim Administrator until a permanent administrator can assume the job sometime this spring. Democrats say Rutherford, who has already been assisting in the interim management, is far and away the most experienced and capable to hit the ground running. But Republicans, like Commissioner John Gisler say they can’t support Rutherford after he issued a mask mandate last year for schools in Kalamazoo County.

“I don’t know how long it’s been since Kalamazoo County tarred and feathered an elected official, but I know there are people in south county that if I voted for Jim, ‘that’s it, I’m through’”

Rutherford was picked after the board deadlocked on proposals that Clerk Meredith Place and former Portage City Manager Larry Schaffer fill the interim post.

Kalamazoo County Commissioners also picked leaders for the board at Tuesday night's meeting. After they failed to re-elect last year’s Chair and vice-chair two weeks ago, commissioners turned to new leadership for this year. Former Chair Tracy Hall nominated Mike Quinn to replace her, and the board elected him.

Former Vice-Chair Tami Rae was nominated but once again the board deadlocked. Commissioner Monteze Morales was then nominated and elected vice-chair. Morales has only served for six months. She was appointed to fill a vacancy last summer. 

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