Patricia Herring-Jackson, a Meridian Township trustee, was appointed supervisor at a special meeting on Tuesday after Township Supervisor Ron Styka died unexpectedly last week.
“I’m excited while being saddened and surprised, but I’ve worked with most of these people at least four years in this capacity so I think this is an opportunity for us to continue how well we work together to accomplish a lot of things,” Herring-Jackson said.
Her appointment opens a second spot on the board of trustees that the township is looking to fill next month. Dan Opsommer left the board earlier this month to be the assistant township manager.
Herring-Jackson said she has been in the township for about 35 years. From 2000 to 2016 she served on the planning commission. She was chair and vice-chair several times in those 16 years. She ran for a seat on the township board in 2016, and she was also one of the volunteers to lead the township’s Task Force for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2020.
Under state law, Herring-Jackson and the two trustees who will soon be determined will serve until Nov. 20 of this year. The appointees and anyone else seeking to be elected to serve the remainder of the term until Nov. 20, 2024, <no comma -2> must run in the 2022 August Primary and General Election.
Herring-Jackson said at the meeting she intends to run for the supervisor position
Meanwhile, applications for the two trustee positions are due on March 4 and can be accessed on Merdian Township’s website.
The board decided at the special meeting that the full board instead of a three member search committee— as previously planned— will review the applications March 8. Interviews will be held March 15. The trustees would get sworn in the following day and attend their first board meeting April 12.
“Supervisor Styka was a gentle man and wise man,” Herring-Jackson said. “And I think he gave us a great start to finishing this term since he was with us all through our first term. We have in place our goals and objectives for the next year.”
The board’s clerk, Deborah Guthrie, said some of these goals are a continuation of Styka’s projects that include revitalizing Downtown Okemos.
As for the qualities the trustees are looking for in trustee candidates, Herring-Jackson said she hopes to get back some of the qualities and characteristics of the board members that they recently lost. Herring-Jackson said Opsommer brought energy and enthusiasm as the youngest board member.
“He brought a very rich experience in the legislative process of state level,” Herring-Jackson said. “If we could find someone with experience, contacts that would be a plus. It certainly is not required, but it would be a plus.”
Trustee Courtney Wisinski said she seeks a candidate with a policy background in government and community planning and research experience