New Commission Chair McGrain hopes for steady year

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By Jamie Brewer
Ingham County Chronicle

Brian McGrain was elected as Chairperson of the Ingham County Board of Commissioner Jan. 2 with plans to have an amicable year leading the board.

McGrain has been District 10 commissioner since 2008.

“After six years as a commissioner, I felt that I had sufficient knowledge of the county to volunteer for the role of chairperson,” McGrain said.

McGrain works as associate director and chief operation officer of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). The non-profit group of businesses, organizations and individuals strives to rebuild and revitalize communities and neighborhoods in Michigan.

As chair, McGrain is required to attend board meetings and provide guidance to top-level staff about the commissioners thoughts.

“I did promise to my colleagues that I would do my best to act on their behalf and to hopefully lead us through a quiet, non-contentious year,” McGrain said.

Important issues that will be decided in 2015 include reconstruction of the Ingham County jail, how to expand trails and how to handle health care millage dollars, according to McGrain.

“I want to make sure we make those decisions in a genial way,” McGrain said.
McGrain’s goal is to ensure that the board has a leader who is able to mediate and lead the group through decisions.

There have been some volatile issues in past years that have caused a lot of controversy, according to McGrain. He does not want to see another year like that.

McGrain graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in urban planning and graduate degree in public administration and urban studies.
“I never considered in college that I would end up in county government,” McGrain said.

McGrain comes from a family that volunteers in the community.

“My interest in politics stemmed from my personal interest in urban planning issues, and realizing that elected office would be a place where I could advance my interests in those issues,” McGrain said.

Commissioner Todd Tennis knew McGrain before he was elected commissioner during his service for the Community Development Association of Michigan.

“Brian is witty and outgoing. He is very friendly, but he is not afraid to battle it out over issues he feels strongly about. He has improved his efforts to make sure he is communicating well with all board members,” Tennis said.

McGrain thinks the best way to improve the quality of life for Ingham County residents is to improve the economic climate, according to Tennis.
Commissioner and Chair of Law and Courts Penelope Tsernoglou has worked with McGrain for eight years.

“Brian is dedicated to his role as chairperson. He has taken the time to become familiar with the specifics of all issues facing the county and is respectful and open to everyone’s views,” Tsernoglou said. “He takes the extra time to ensure that everything is going as it should be.”

McGrain focuses on creating an open environment where commissioners are able to come to decisions easily.

Tennis said, “Even on those issues where Brian and I don’t see eye to eye, I still respect his view and know he is strongly representing his constituents.”

McGrain said his favorite part of serving on the commission is seeing the community in action.

“Whether it’s enjoying one of the parks we operate, or seeing people receiving health care or access to critical needs — I enjoy knowing that our tax dollars are providing real benefit to all of us,” McGrain said.

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