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Matt Bolang named Livingston County Health Officer

After five months of deliberation and searching, the Livingston County Board of Commissioners has named their appointment for the position of Public Health Officer.

The Board voted 6-3 in support of Matt Bolang, with Commissioners Griffith, Gross, Plank, Reader, Smith, and Zajac in support. 

Most public comments concerned this appointment, and many of those who addressed the Board were repeat speakers who have been critical of the Health Department from the beginning. Several speakers, including Connie Robinson of Hartland, expressed concern that the Board was acting in haste. Citing “the gravity and the long-lasting effects of this decision,” Robinson explained that, since four out of the nine sitting Commissioners will not be returning to the board in January 2023, the decision to appoint a new health officer should be postponed until February. However, this process has already been drawn out substantially: the original goal was to have this vacancy filled by July 1st.  It should be noted that three of the four Commissioners-Elect– Roger Deaton, Dave Domas, and Nick Fiani– were present in person at the meeting, and congratulated Bolang on his appointment.

Bolang has a background in environmental health and has been serving as interim director following the retirement of Dianne McCormick in July. Bolang has worked with the Livingston County Health Department in a variety of scenarios, including emergency preparedness services, environmental health services, public beach, campground, and swimming pool codes, body art facilities, adult care facilities, food protection, housing, and water quality.

As early as mid-June, Chairman Wes Nakagiri has been adamant that a master’s in Public Health is critical to the position of health officer, and that an ideal candidate should have a medical or clinical background. He reiterated this, despite the fact that neither of the two final candidates specialized in the medical realm. Nakagiri added that the goal of a health officer should be to “critically assess and push back when needed against misinformation, whether it’s from the CDC or the State.”

Nakagiri and other advocates of medical freedom have spoken against Bolang in the past five months, with many blaming him for the implementation of mask mandates, quarantines, and vaccines. However, Bolang has stated that he “wasn’t directly involved in a lot of the initial Covid response.”

Bolang’s experience in administration and management set him apart from other candidates, as did his familiarity with Livingston County. 

“There’s a pretty strong network here,” Bolang explained in his interview. “Livingston County government operates as a family, a lot of us care about the community, live in the community, and work together best we can for the folks in Livingston County.” 

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