“It’s almost as if instead of leading with, ‘OK, what’s our job in this jurisdiction in this county? What services do we provide?’ – and then sort of taking the cues from citizens and policy from there – it’s like a flipped script,” said Stephanie Leiser, a lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “I come in and I have an agenda: How can I implement this agenda through the actual levers of power I have control over?”
While local government have begun trending more partisan in recent years, Leiser said it’s a “pretty unusual thing,” to garner national headlines for it, like Ottawa County has. The lasting impact of a partisan-focused policy is something experts say they continue to watch closely.
Most recently, there’s been an enduring focus on the county’s health department, a topic Leiser said the group had “really chosen to take advantage of the fact they have control of that level of policy to make a partisan statement about it.”