BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
With Pat Kittle’s resignation as Independence Township supervisor official as of September 8 and accepted by the Township Board of Trustees at their July 20 meeting, the pressing matter now is who will succeed Kittle.
Kittle hoped to appoint longtime Independence Township resident Paul Brown, also a township trustee, on an interim basis for the next 13 months until the 2022 Primary Election, but that was taken off the table just prior to last week’s meeting. At the meeting when the motion was made and seconded to approve Kittle’s resignation, all were in favor, save for Brown, who gave a “no” vote.
“You guys could have done that, and he would have had to stay,” laughed Brown, who has been on the board for seven years.
“I’ve been asked a lot of questions on why I’m resigning,” said Kittle. “No one should ever enter public office thinking they can stay there forever. When you feel you’ve done all that you can on your watch, it’s, in my opinion, better to turn over command than to just be a placeholder.”
The process and appointment of a new township supervisor is made at the discretion of the board but must be made within 45 days of the vacancy (September 8, 2021). The newly-appointed supervisor must run in the primary and general elections to continue in office.
Brown went on to say the more he reflected on the possibility of succeeding Kittle, the more he realized mistakes he had made, saying, “If you’re smart, you always try to think about your mistakes.”
“That’s where I start to think about this respect piece that the three full-time elected officials have to have because what happens when you have problems, and the whole board runs the township, but those three full-timers are there every day,” said Brown. “They have to have a relationship that allows the employees to not worry, and that’s the most important thing, the employees. If that is not a cohesive unit, you have people that will leave, and that’s the worst thing for the township. For me, the reason I became treasurer is because I wanted to give back to the place I grew up and I think I brought something good. When some employees heard that maybe I was coming back, they were like, ‘Oh, boy.’ I always stuck my nose into things. I’m an accountant and that’s what I do. I ruffled feathers, and my management style, I know what it is, and I don’t think my management style is the right thing right now to go with the two full-time elected officials we have. I don’t think it’s the best thing, and I will not put my hat into the ring.”
Brown concluded his comments saying he’ll be paying close attention to who Township Treasurer Rachel Loughrin and Township Clerk Cari Neubeck think may be a good fit as the interim supervisor.
“I’m here to help any way I can in the township,” said Brown. “I’ve talked to Rachel and Cari and my knowledge and things I know from the seven years I’ve been here, and that’s a long time, that’s here for them to use and I just want to be a source of helping this township be successful and for the elected officials to be successful. I look forward to that process.
“Once the elections come, whoever wants to run in the election can come in. I hope they’ll think about my insight into this as well.”
He then turned to Kittle and thanked him for his experiences, saying he “learned more from you than I ever could have hoped for, coming in here just as a person who just wants to get better at being a leader.”
“One thing people might not know is that I disagreed with Pat quite a few times and on a few occasions actually said, ‘You’re dead wrong. You can’t do what you’re thinking about doing.’ And Pat listens. He really does,” Brown said. “He’s probably not wrong that often, but sometimes he is. I appreciate everything (Kittle has done) and I’m happy to be part of this board.”
“Crazy times,” quipped Kittle. “There’s no playbook on how this sort of thing is handled, especially in which the timeline to do it with the clock starting to tick 45 days after the 8th. At the time, when I first announced my resignation and a nomination for my appointment (Brown), I thought it was a wise choice to offer it to a well-qualified, ready-to-work from Day 1 successor. That’s just the way I am. I have the utmost respect for my colleagues on the board and they have the skill set and every right to determine how they wish to proceed. I believe the candidate that I had named (Brown) would have been an excellent choice for the community.
“Upon further reflection, the best way to handle this is for my colleagues to make their choice in the manner in which they choose. I have every confidence in that whoever succeeds me will be a person who has demonstrated remarkable public service to the board and to the voters if an election is called for.”