As we reported last week, the Peninsula Township Board voted to hire Fred Gilstorff as the new Fire Chief for the Peninsula Fire Department. However, procedural questions arose regarding the Board’s voting process at that meeting, held on August 24, 2017.
After interviewing the final two candidates, Gilstorff and current interim Fire Chief Randy Rittenhouse, the Board then deliberated in an open meeting and voted by secret ballot, with Rittenhouse receiving two votes and Gilstorff receiving five votes. Immediately after the vote, the Board voted unanimously to select Gilstorff as the new Fire Chief.
However, when Township Supervisor Rob Manigold read the results of each vote, he noted only which candidate the vote was for, not which Board member made the vote.
At a special meeting of the Township Board today, Manigold explained the error, noting that, first, each paper ballot should have been signed, and second, when collected and read at the meeting, it should have been clear how each Board member voted.
“Our attorney’s advice was to meet as quickly as possible to re-do the vote so that everybody knows how they voted,” said Manigold. “Today is a procedure to correct that and take away any cloud that could be over the existing vote.”
Township Clerk Joanne Westphal said today’s vote is also the method recommended by Catherine Mullhaupt of the Michigan Townships Association. “It has to be out in the open, and the public needs to know who voted which way, as stipulated under the Open Meetings Act,” said Westphal.
A motion was then made by Trustee Isaiah Wunsch and supported by Trustee Maura Sanders “to vote again on the Fire Chief as we voted on our paper ballots, in order to rectify the August 24, 2017 vote for the Fire Chief.”
A roll call vote was taken, with the following results:
- Joanne Westphal voted for Fred Gilstorff
- Rob Manigold voted for Randy Rittenhouse
- Maura Sanders voted for Fred Gilstorff
- Margaret Achorn voted for Fred Gilstorff
- Brad Bickle voted for Randy Rittenhouse
- Isaiah Wunsch voted for Fred Gilstorff
- Warren Wahl voted for Fred Gilstorff
Manigold then noted that the spoken votes were the same as the paper ballot votes, and Fred Gilstorff is installed as the new Fire Chief, pending contractual obligations.
Township Treasurer Brad Bickle said that a contract will be drafted by Steve Schwartz, the Township’s union and human resources attorney, which will then be presented to Gilstorff.
“We anticipate it being completed by Friday or early next week,” said Bickle. “It will be presented to Fred Gilstorff for review and comments, and we should be able to reach a tentative agreement with Fred within ten to 15 days, and then we will determine his start date.”
Pending completion of Gilstorff’s contractual obligations with his current job as Deputy Chief of the Wayne Fire Department in Wayne, Michigan, it’s anticipated that he will begin the job of Fire Chief of Peninsula Fire Department around November 1.