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Residents voice their disapproval at Ottawa County Board meeting

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Over 40 spoke at public comment period on recent decisions by the board

One week after the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners made several “surprising” changes to its local government, a number of area residents Tuesday voiced their disapproval.

The newly-elected Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, made up of 10 Republicans and 1 Democrat, reportedly “shocked” a number of county officials last week, when commissioners voted to fire Ottawa County Administrator John Shay and replace him with former congressional candidate John Gibbs.

The board also “blind-sided” the county’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the decision to permanently shut it down, while commissioners also voted to change the county’s motto from “Where You Belong” to “Where Freedom Rings.”

On Tuesday, while some voiced their approval of the decisions, several area residents shared their frustrations during the public comment portion of the Board’s Second meeting of the year.

Here is Allendale resident Kevin Crowe:

“You slapped them in the face, every one of them. Everyone who is gay, or a minority,” Crowe said. “Just because of your religious beliefs doesn’t mean you get to shove it down everybody else’s throats,” he said. “Just because you’re white, Christian conservatives does not mean everybody in this county, everybody in this room thinks the way that you do.”

Meanwhile, Board member Sylivia Rhodea defended the decision to hire John Gibbs.

“Our voters spoke very clearly about wanting a change in direction in our county and county leadership starts at the top with the county administrator,” Rhodea said.

The Democratic Party of Ottawa County says the Board is forgetting that 42 percent of the county did not vote for Gibbs in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional race for the US House back in November, a race Gibbs lost--to Democrat Hillary Scholten.

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