Woronchak elected chairman of County Commission

Photo courtesy of Greg Eno

New Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak (D-Dearborn) addresses the commission and observers as he accepts unanimous election to his new position Tuesday at the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.

DETROIT — The Wayne County Commission elected Commissioner Gary Woronchak as its chairman for the 2011-12 term.

Woronchak (D-Dearborn) was elected at the commission’s organizational meeting Jan. 4 at the Guardian Building. He succeeds Edward Boike Jr. (D-Taylor), who served as chair for the previous term and retired from the commission at the end of December.

Also elected to leadership positions Tuesday were Commissioner Alisha Bell (D-Detroit) who will serve as vice chairwoman, and Commissioner Laura Cox (R-Livonia) who was elected vice chairwoman pro tem. The 15-member commission elects its officers at the first meeting of each two-year term.

As chairman, Woronchak will be responsible for the commission’s $9.4 million budget and its employees, as well as scheduling and running meetings and appointing members to standing committees and special task forces.

Woronchak, 55, is beginning his fourth term on the commission, representing Dearborn, Allen Park and Melvindale. Prior to being elected to the commission in 2004, he served three terms in the state House of Representatives. Before government service he worked more than 20 years as a newspaper editor.

While he said the commission will work with the executive branch and County Executive Robert Ficano to address challenges facing the county, Woronchak added, “we must never lose sight of our function and duty as the legislative branch—to be the check and balance, to always question and, when necessary, to challenge the administration.”

“The powers and duties of this commission are listed clearly in the county charter, and are granted to us by the people of Wayne County who adopted that charter,” Woronchak said in his acceptance speech Tuesday. “Legislative oversight is a vital function. We will regard it as such, and insist that others within county government do as well.”

The commission is the legislative branch of county government, responsible for approving contracts, enacting ordinances and oversight of the $2.1 billion county budget.