County Commission Races Heat Up

Posted on November 17, 2022 View all news

Joe Tilton

April 26, 2018

Tuesday, the 24th, was the deadline for candidates filing for a seat on the Board of Commissioners for Montcalm County.  Next week, a full list of candidates will be published here.

Two candidates are already reaching the public in full campaign mode.  John Johansen and David Overholt, both Republicans, have released statements in an attempt to pull voters their way.

In a press release dated April 20, Johansen wrote, “It’s come to my attention that one person who filed for the office of Commissioner has decided to use what public influence he can muster to influence the City of Grand Rapids to allow his business to operate there.  My focus is on Montcalm County and not what a neighboring community should do that is against their policies and ordinances.”

The press release continues, “Johansen has never been involved in illegal activities, not even minor ones, while he sees interest in Montcalm County’s Commission by someone brought to trial for violations.  I believe the spirit of the law is critically important. And I’ve familiarized myself with laws that apply to county government and our relationship with the State of Michigan and our neighbors.”

Johansen is referring to David Overholt’s recent announcement in Grand Rapids that a petition is being circulated to allow medical marihuana dispensaries to operate within the city limits, something Grand Rapids has rejected in the past.  Overholt is banking on a change of attitude in the city that has yet to reach their government leaders.

During a call with Overholt, we asked if he would draw a distinction between selling medical marihuana and pot (recreational use) from dispensaries should the state-wide proposal to legalize pot be approved in November.  An answer is anticipated.

Overholt has been critical of the Commissioners, blaming financial ills on the seated Board while Montcalm County has asked for a jury trial in their suit against Abraham & Gaffney, their previous accounting firm they claim failed to notify them of irregularities.  Overholt has promoted that taxes from marihuana sales will help rebuild the Sheriff’s Department that has cut back on services because of financial shortfalls.

The Lakeview Area News has asked Representative James Lower about a $35-million State fund, money collected from medical marihuana cards and new license applications, intended for sheriff’s offices to enforce existing marihuana laws.  The funds have not been released as the Legislature called for.

Johansen appears to be clear that he is opposed to marihuana sales in District Nine, while campaigning on sound financial management of available tax dollars.

The election determining which candidate will serve their district will happen in August.

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