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Proctor says plan for national search to find new health director is “beyond perplexing”

The former Mayor of Howell, who is seeking a seat on the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, is questioning what he calls “handwringing” by the board over who will be the new head of the county’s health department.

Nick Proctor, who is seeking to win the Republican nomination for the 5th District on the county board, says a proposal to pay for a national search when a qualified replacement is already in house is “beyond perplexing.”

Current director Dianne McCormick is set to retire on July 1, and has recommended her deputy, Matt Bolang, to fill the position.

Despite that recommendation, and the support of Bolang by both Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy and Drain Commissioner Brian Jonckheere, Chair Wes Nakagiri emphasized at a recent meeting that the board should conduct an “exhaustive search” for a replacement, a proposal supported by Commissioners Jay Drick and Brenda Plank. Drick is also seeking the 5th District GOP nomination.

The proposal to conduct a search came after public comment throughout the meeting in support of the concept of medical freedom, an ideology that has become synonymous with the anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement.

Proctor says while he doesn’t know Bolang personally, he has “full faith” in succession plans that identified him as competent and ready to take over the helm of the Livingston County Health Department.  

“To expend funds for a national search when there’s a qualified internal candidate is foolish and antithetical to fiscal conservatism,” said Proctor. “Additionally, it only serves to demoralize staff. In my experience, someone is either qualified to undertake a position or not. Seeking a “more” qualified person through a national search doesn’t make any sense.  One could wonder what the true motive could be and given that some on the County Commission see all issues through an ideological prism, it’s easy to draw a conclusion that those seeking a national search seek an ideological match to their own.  If so, the interests of the County Commission and the public would be ill served.”

Proctor said the board should be seeking employees that are competent and capable, willing to present an array of options and defend them, to be willing to challenge the elected leaders and be willing to be intellectually and substantively challenged in return.  

“Only through a healthy and civil dialogue can effective public policy be formulated,” he said.

Proctor added that external searches should be rare, and reasons clearly articulated to justify any expenditures.

“This is simply a basic principle of sound management which, apparently, a few on our County Commission fail to understand,” he said. “The August 2nd primary provides an opportunity to inject additional common sense into the Livingston County Board of Commissioners.”

The winner of the primary will take on Marion Township Democrat Kasey Helton in November.

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