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Two reappointed to mental health board

The Record-Eagle - 5/20/2019

May 20-- May 20--TRAVERSE CITY -- Two Grand Traverse County applicants for the Northern Lakes Community Mental Health board will serve another term.

Both are qualified for the task, county commissioners agreed. But they deadlocked on sending a third and on replacing Mary Marois, one of the board members seeking reappointment with someone new.

Marois asked to be reappointed and said she believed to be uniquely qualified to serve on the board.

"I'm proud of the work I've done representing this community on the Northern Lakes board, and I would very much like to continue in that role," she said.

Commissioners reappointed Randy Kamps. They also kept Marois on the board after Addison "Sonny" Wheelock moved to keep her there.

That's counter to an interview subcommittee's unanimous recommendation to appoint someone else, Wheelock said. But he believed Marois' experience is needed on a board setting policy for an organization with a roughly $70 million budget.

"I think it's absolutely crucial that we have the most knowledgeable people on that board," he said.

Commissioners Betsy Coffia and Gordie LaPointe supported the move.

Marois is unquestionably qualified, said Rob Hentschel, board chairman. But he was reluctant to go against the recommendation to appoint Barb Willing, he said. Marois had others speaking and writing out for her, and he wanted the application process to be an "even playing field" without influence from who or how many others vouch for applicants, he said.

Willing echoed this in speaking to the board and told them she thought she was being "slandered." She has a lengthy mental health background as well, and wanted the chance to keep better track of how Northern Lakes Community Mental Health's budget is spent, she said.

Hentschel proposed appointing Willing as an alternate who would fill any vacancy Grand Traverse County commissioners must fill. County leaders did this informally before when someone resigns shortly after joining a board and commissioners replace them with another candidate they've already interviewed, he argued.

He dropped the request after Coffia and Wheelock questioned it. Wheelock said he saw no reason to start appointing alternates now, and Coffia said she believed Hentschel's proposal amounted to changing the appointment process.

Hentschel also dropped a request to send former commissioner Dan Lathrop to the board as they seek clarification for who they should appoint to a vacancy there -- certain slots call for certain qualifications, county Deputy Administrator Chris Cramer said.

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