Voters took to the polls on Tuesday, but board of health members with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan had a different kind of vote.
They had to make a choice on whether or not to keep current Health Officer Lisa Peacock, or to terminate her contract.
It was close with board members voting it down by a vote of five to three, meaning she will stay in the position.
Those hoping to remove her say the universal mask mandate for schools in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego Counties was made too quickly and without any input from board members.
“Never once have I heard Lisa say ‘perhaps I was hasty. I did what I needed to do in a time period that I thought I needed to do it. Perhaps I should have had some input from someone else’,” said Julie Powers, board member and Otsego County Commissioner.
Board Member and Antrim County Commissioner Jarris Rubingh made the motion to terminate Peacock’s contract.
“I feel sorry for the kids that have a hard time wearing a mask and for the parents who felt blindsided by it being issued at the last minute,” said Rubingh. “I did what I thought I had to do.”
After the vote, Peacock was pleased to move on.
“According to Robert’s rules and the orders of procedure, its the final vote that matters and the outcome of that vote and with a positive vote we just move forward, and I think that that’s what I’m going to concentrate on,” said Peacock.
Regarding concerns about the mandate from board members, Peacock said it was a necessary move. “When you’re issuing a public health emergency order it’s usually because there is an emergent issue, and so the emergency in this case was the imminent start of school and the rising risks related to the pandemic.” she said.
Tensions have been high since the order was put out, and during their last meeting at the Charlevoix Library, parents and others showed up to voice their concerns.
It was such a hectic meeting that the library has no plans to host another health department meeting due to safety concerns.