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Ottawa County Board to vote on censure of commissioner

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Posted at 2:14 PM, Jun 27, 2023

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — The Republican-led Ottawa County Board of Commissioners will try to censure one of its colleagues and strip him of his committee assignments at a meeting Tuesday night.

Last year Commissioner Jacob Bonnema won his election with backing from Ottawa Impact.

But the Zeeland commissioner left the conservative PAC this spring claiming it had strayed from its conservative values.

Tuesday night, the board plans to try to censure Bonnema.


The Ottawa County Republican Party claims Bonnema betrayed the GOP by advocating for a pandemic panel, voting three times against conservative proposals and telling the Washington Post that a board member "is not afraid to hurt people."

The resolution to censure also says Bonnema filed a harassment complaint against Administrator John Gibbs. Those claims reportedly included threats, misconduct, intimidation, and “indecent conduct.”

Bonnema_complaint_3.21.23 by WXMI on Scribd

The Ottawa County GOP says the HR director released a statement months later explaining the claims against Gibbs were deemed “unfounded” after an investigation took place.

If the censure is approved, Bonnema will be taken off all his committees until the end of the year.

The board's only Democrat, Doug Zylstra, said there was "no basis" for the censure.

Bonnema himself said he works for "no political party" but for "the people of Ottawa County."

You can read the full censure resolution online.

Bonnema released a statement about the censure resolution:

“I am a common-sense conservative who is known for being a rugged individualist and proud to represent the hardworking, honest individuals who value their liberty and freedom. My district includes Zeeland City, Zeeland Township, and parts of Holland Township. As commissioner, I have worked hard to listen to the people’s voice and vote honestly and consistently with the values of this thriving county. I will continue to fight for common sense conservative values and principles to be the standard by which we do the business of the County. I work for no political party or special interest group; I work for the people of Ottawa County.

"I am for:
◦ Government Transparency through the First Amendment
◦ Competency with ideology
◦ Fiscal Responsibility
◦ Limited Government
◦ Governing with the least force and authority with grace
◦ Sanctity of Life
◦ Honoring all people equally due to their individual intrinsic value and worth
◦ Pro-Second Amendment

"I am against:
◦ Medical Mandates
◦ Limiting Free Speech
◦ No bid/non-cancelable contracts
◦ Wasteful Spending
◦ Virtue Signaling/Activism
◦ Group Think

"I was elected, as were others on the county commission, by the people who sought change, rational leadership, transparency in government and assurance that Ottawa County would lead with the interests of the people first. We were elected to return trust in county government. It is my desire to rebuild that trust in our elected officials by advocating for transparency, fiscal responsibility, and good governance.

"I am committed to continuing this work, and I will always strive to put the interests of our district first. From fighting for lower taxes to advocating for small businesses, I will work tirelessly to uphold the values that have made District 4 a great place to live and work.

"The Ottawa GOP censure simply limits my participation at county-level GOP executive committee meetings and will have no impact on my commitments or voting as a commissioner.

"I pray the Ottawa GOP establishment can return to its conservative roots and its primary purpose, so we can get back to supporting winning candidates, like me, and winning future elections.”

The meeting can be watched below:

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