Tesanovich steps down from Baraga County Board

BARAGA – Long-serving Baraga County Commissioner and former state representative Paul Tesanovich has resigned from the county board.

After three separate stints as a commissioner beginning in 1987 and a term-limited 1994-2000 stint as the 110th District state representative, he’s likely leaving Michigan politics for good, Tesanovich said in a phone interview Monday.

He said he’s professionally retired and has decided to spend the winter in the South, with no plans to return consistently enough to make politics feasible.

“I didn’t feel I could fulfill my role as I should – it’s time to go off on a new adventure,” he said.

Tesanovich was not present when the county board accepted his resignation earlier Monday evening and put out the call for nominations to fill his seat until the end of his term in December 2014.

Letters of interest are due at the clerk’s office Feb. 7, and the board plans to chose a candidate at their Feb. 10 meeting.

“He brought a lot of experience,” Board Chairman Mike Koskinen said of Tesanovich.

“He was around a long time and knew a lot of people. We’ll miss him.”

In his letter of resignation, emailed to the board, Tesanovich listed the county’s senior meals and public transportation programs, building a new jail, and being awarded a state prison as board accomplishments he’s been a part of.

County clerk Wendy Goodreau noted that Tesanovich’s understanding of Lansing politics helped the board connect to state programs that could provide local benefits.

Tesanovich said he took pride in having chaired congressional committees at the state level, as well as in working locally in Baraga’s county government.

“It’s not like other places with the infighting,” he said of Baraga politics. “It’s a very good operation. The commissioners, agree or disagree – and there are some hot issues – have always worked rationally and maturely.”

He added the staff was also high-quality, and that it’s “always great to be a part of that.”

Tesanovich said he had one hope for future local political councils, which is that they would include more younger members and more women.

“It’s time for the young people to step up,” he said. “I always thought there was a lack of young elected officials. I’d like to see more women, but especially for young people step up. Their ideas are really important.”

He also offered thanks to his neighbors and constituents, who voted for him despite his out-of-town origins.

“Having been raised in Gary, Ind., people said I wouldn’t get elected,” he remembered. “The trust people put in me was appreciated.”

Tesanovich said he’d miss the adrenaline rush he still got from politics, but that scooping 278 inches of snow last winter at his home in Herman after selling off a snow blower and other equipment he decided to seek his excitement elsewhere.

“I’m 61 years old with a lot of life ahead of me, so we’ll see where that leads,” he said.