Kevin Codere appointed to Houghton County Board
HOUGHTON — Less than a week after deciding to hold off on a replacement for late chairman Al Koskela, the Houghton County Board reversed course Monday and appointed Kevin Codere to serve out the partial term.
Codere was chosen 3-1, with Chairman Tom Tikkanen voting against.
“He’s got a lot of great experience, and the fact that he’s not going to be running for the seat evens out the playing field for the candidates who are running,” said Commissioner Gretchen Janssen, who made a motion to appoint Codere. Also voting for him were Vice Chairman Roy Britz and Commissioner Glenn Anderson.
At its May 10 meeting, the board decided to wait until after the August primary election to choose a new commissioner.
Administrator Elizabeth Bjorn spoke with legal counsel and the Michigan Association of Counties, who told her state law requires a replacement be appointed within 30 days.
“Then if we get to a situation that we have a tie or we’re indecisive, then we’ll ask MAC and our legal expert as far as how we’ll proceed from there,” she said.
Anderson said based on his understanding, because the filing deadline had passed for August, there could not be a special election for the seat before the general election in November.
Codere addressed the board via Zoom during public comments. He mentioned his experience, including 35 years of business experience, and involvement with boards including Schoolcraft Township, Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance and Michigan Tech Enterprise Corp. SmartZone.
“I have a basic understanding of both business and local government, and I put my name in for consideration because I have no interest in running for the position, so you won’t find me filing for petition to be a candidate on the independent ticket or anything of that nature, certainly in this election cycle,” he said.
Codere will be sworn in Wednesday after returning from a trip out of state.
The board’s decision last week had met with disapproval from several of the applicants, as well as the Copper Country Republican Party. It had earlier endorsed Schoolcraft Township Supervisor Joel Keranen.
Tikkanen made a motion to appoint Keranen, which died for lack of a second. He pointed to the Republican endorsement, along with the district’s history of electing a Republican candidate.
“We’ve tried our best not to insert ourselves into the mindset of the voters of District 2,” he said. “However, Mr. Koskela ran successfully five times as a Republican, and the Republican Party has endorsed Joel Keranen,” he said. “And of course his experience as a businessman and a trustee for Schoolcraft Township, and supervisor.”
Most of the applicants for the position had also filed to run for the position after Koskela declined to seek another term. Keranen, Torch Lake Township Trustee Lou Ambuehl, former Dollar Bay school board member Richard Nye and Lake Linden Village President Glenn Schuldt are running in August’s Republican primary. Houghton County Planning Commission member Timothy Sears is running as a member of the U.S. Constitution Party.
Anderson said he would prefer appointing a candidate who is not running this year. Codere and two other applicants, Eric Forsberg and Hans Impola, are not on the ballot.
Britz nominated Forsberg, who previously served as county administrator.
“As a past county administrator, I believe he has the knowledge and wisdom to help us get through the rest of this term,” he said.
Prior to the vote, Tikkanen said he had received an email from a township resident asking Forsberg not be appointed due to his past affiliation with the county.
The board deadlocked 2-2, with Britz and Anderson voting for him and Janssen and Tikkanen voting against.
After appointing Codere, the board also appointed Tikkanen to fill Koskela’s spot on the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress board.