Williamson, Ziliak retain leadership of commissioners

Published 10:04 am Monday, January 11, 2016

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Despite the deep divisions caused by the recent departure of the county administer, the leadership of the Cass County Board of Commissioners remains unchanged following the its first meeting of the new year.

District 6 Commissioner Bernie Williamson was reelected as chairperson of the seven-member board during its first meeting of 2016 at the county annex in Cassopolis Thursday. District 5 Commissioner Robert Ziliak was also reelected as vice chair during the meeting.

Williamson was one of two commissioners nominated for the position, which was decided in a secret vote conducted at the start of the meeting. She was voted into the office in a 4-3 vote over District 4 Commissioner Roseann Marchetti.

With her reelection, the commissioner becomes the first person to lead the board in consecutive years since it shrank from 15 members to seven in 2013. Williamson was elected to the chairperson position in 2015 by a 6-0 after serving as vice-chair for the previous two years.

Williamson’s reelection comes a month after her opposition to the termination of County Administrator Roger Fraser. The chairperson was one of three commissioners who voted against his firing during a meeting in early December.

“There has been a lot of challenge this last year, and I’m committed to those who felt we needed to go another way,” Williamson said. “I will work real hard to earn your trust.”

Prior to becoming a commissioner, Williamson served as supervisor of Jefferson Township. She also served as the county’s emergency manager from 2001 to 2005, receiving the Michigan Emergency Management Association’s Coordinator of the Year award for counties with populations of 50,000 or less in 2003.

Ziliak was also voted into the vice chair position in a 4-3 vote against Marchetti, who was also nominated for that position.

The Republican has served on the board of commissioners for the past 14 years, and served as the board’s chairman in 2010.

Both positions are one-year terms.