Excuse me boss fellow commissioner?
|By Kyle Melinn|
Among the growing stampede of East Lansingites looking to replace Marc Thomas as an Ingham County commissioner in District 8 is someone with a rsum that would pop to the top under normal circumstances.
Professionally and politically, Penelope Tsernoglou makes a convincing case why the Board of Commissioners should pick her later this month as Thomas replacement until a special election can be held next year.
The 30-year-old attorney represented juveniles and low-income domestic assault victims in county court. For a couple years, Tsernoglou was a legal advocate for the countys domestic violence support team. She substitute taught in the Lansing School District and served on the countys Animal Control Advisory Board.
The 12 Democrats on the now-15-member board like that.
The issue is where she works — Practical Political Consulting (PPC) — and, in particular, who her boss is, longtime Ingham County Commissioner Mark Grebner. PPC is one of the states go-to places for political campaigns. It supplies voter registration lists and political advice, among other things.
The deadline for applying for the Thomas seat is Sept. 9. Interviews would take place in the coming weeks.
In fact, their first interaction with each other came when she took up the banner for animal welfare groups in 2003, when Grebner was outspoken in his support of the countys practice of selling animals for medical research. Obviously, the two were not on the same page.
If she were to become a county commissioner, Tsernoglou said she would be an independent commissioner. She would not be a puppet of Grebner, who represents the 10th district, made up almost entirely of Michigan State University. In short, there would be no PPC caucus, she told me.
For his part, Grebner said he finds himself in a complicated bind. As, literally, the author of the county commissions book on ethics, Grebner has opted to neither support nor oppose his subordinate in her quest.
One county political insider told me hes confident Tsernoglou would be an independent voice and that she and Grebner would work out a professional relationship.
County commissioners do have a deep pool of alternatives. Shelby Bupp is a former Gov. Jennifer Granholms hand who runs her own political fundraising operation. She has support in the form of Commissioner Rebecca Bahar-Cook and the local organized Labor Council.
Jon Beard, son of East Lansing City Councilman Kevin Beard, has been seen at commission meetings. Hes told folks hes in.
And dont forget about the two folks Grebner called — Reimann, who is an attorney at Willingham & Cote, and Wein, a software developer seeking his masters at Michigan State.
(Kyle Melinn is the editor of the Michigan Information and Research Services. His column appears weekly.