It didn’t take long for large media outlets and high-profile celebrity activists to come calling on Clare County Sheriff John Wilson. A post on his personal Facebook page on Thursday, July 30 about the youth livestock auction was born out of his frustration with ever-changing executive orders.
“Prior to Wednesday we had everything set up to do this live animal auction according to the current orders,” Wilson said. “We were fine. Jerry Becker [Clare County emergency manager] was involved and Steve Schunk, we were all working together. We had counters at the door, plans to wear masks. Then they changed it.”
“If it was a retail thing and you go by square footage in the T-barn, you could have way more people in there. It was considered a social gathering so we could only have 10 people in the barn.”
He uses the Detroit casinos as an example: “If the casinos are open in Detroit at 15% capacity, what does 15% look like? Probably a lot more people than a 4-H auction.”
Wilson said there are too many differences between our rural county and other counties in our region.
He points out the inconsistency in the executive orders and the fact the county is lumped in with Grand Rapids.
“We have 30,000 people [in the county] and we are still trying to do things safely,” Wilson said. “And I didn’t mean we are defying her orders, but I said carry on because we are still going to do it, but we had to move it outside.”
“Kids have missed an entire semester of school; they finally have something to look forward too. Not just the farm kids, but all the kids that have worked on their projects this summer being able to go and be recognized for their accomplishments.”
Wilson wrote his Facebook post with these emotions in mind, “A good event compared to something you go and gamble money on – and our event is outside.”
Other Michigan sheriffs feel the same as Wilson and have reached out to support him. Their counties are lumped into the same region as large metropolitan areas.
Wilson made it clear, “I’m not defying the governor.”
Nor does Wilson envy any governor in the U.S. right now.
“I wouldn’t want to be governor of any state,” he said. “It’s a hard job, but the blanket effect of the executive orders doesn’t work.”
In addition to calls of support, Wilson has received phone calls of disappointment about his language and the seriousness of COVID-19. He addressed those living in Clare County with words of apology, explaining his duties are beyond keeping law and order. Organizing, coordinating, and supporting youth and community events is something he takes to heart.
John Wilson may let some of those other phone calls go unreturned. He is not looking to align himself with any party or group, and he is running unopposed in November’s election. His comments were not politically motivated.
For history buffs and statisticians, the sheriff race in Clare County has not been unopposed since 1968.