GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – After right-wing group Ottawa Impact called for the resignation of Ottawa County’s public health officer, a group of left-wing residents have formed their own political action committee to “fight right-wing extremists’ influence in Ottawa County.”
ONTRAC, short for Ottawa North TRi-Cities Action Committee, said its goals are to “safeguard democratic processes, communicate factual information on issues relevant to local residents, promote responsible voting and recommend local candidates.”
“We have watched and listened as our county commissioners dismantled the good governance our community is known for,” said John North, a local resident and ONTRAC member. “We joined their meetings and spoke of our concerns, but they did not listen. Instead their ideology is spreading into our municipalities and cities, our libraries and schools.”
A majority of the county commissioners have ties to Ottawa Impact, a right-wing political group that formed in 2021 after concerns about restrictive COVID-19 policies, county creation of a DEI department, and closure of a private Christian school. The group’s first goal was to replace the commissioners, a task it completed during last year’s elections.
After the turnover, the board offered Adeline Hambley, the county’s public health officer, $4 million in exchange for her resignation. The sum is a quarter of the health department’s 2024 budget. The board said this was only a “tentative settlement agreement,” but Hambley’s lawyer filed a motion to enforce it.
The day Hambley’s suit was filed, one of the Republican commissioners resigned, citing “significant changes in his personal and professional life.” His position remains open until the board appoints someone to serve the remainder of the term, which ends in 2024.
ONTRAC officials said the group was created by residents who united to oppose Ottawa Impact and the affiliated commissioners.
“ONTRAC welcomes people of all political parties and persuasions who oppose Ottawa Impact and similar groups and are concerned about their exclusionary and anti-democratic influence on local communities,” the group wrote in a press release. “ONTRAC hopes to provide a place where independents, Democrats and disaffected Republicans can work together for better governance.”
The group said it has compiled a database of like-minded residents and has seen over 70 supporters at one of its recent meetings.
ONTRAC declined to comment on its activities. “We are joining together to plan and act to restore ethical conduct, transparency, fiscal responsibility and inclusion,” North said. “We will be ready at the ballot box.”