Peacock Township supervisor, clerk resign

Supervisor: Verbal assault, physical threats captured on video

During a special meeting last Friday, Peacock Township supervisor Mark Venema and Peacock Township clerk Diana Venema announced their resignations.

During a special meeting last Friday, Peacock Township supervisor Mark Venema and Peacock Township clerk Diana Venema announced their resignations.

Star photo/Shanna Avery

PEACOCK TWP. — The residents of Peacock Township are currently without a supervisor and a clerk. 

Peacock Township Supervisor Mark Venema and Clerk Diana Venema announced their resignation during a special board meeting Friday, March 4.

The resignations, they said, are due to various grievances pertaining to internal conflict on the board, as well as a verbal threat addressed toward Mark during a regular township board meeting in February.

"I have served the people of Peacock Township for the past seven years, with two years being on the planning commission. In the initial years, I witnessed a substantial amount of questionable behavior by this township board/employees. But when you are the lone voice, you take it in and keep it to yourself," Venema read in a statement, listing several examples he witnessed during his tenure stemming from February 2021 to the last regular board meeting.

"On Feb. 23, 2022, a verbal assault and physical threats directed at me, and that I suspect was instigated by members of this township board, (township) employees and others, were all captured on township video surveillance, and after watching, could clearly see it was planned to include a videographer to catch it all on film,” he stated. “Those in attendance could clearly see the plan was foiled, as I conducted the meeting as best as I could without incident.

"It is for these and other reasons too numerous to list, I regret to inform the electors of Peacock Township that I am submitting my resignation as township supervisor effective March 4, 2022, at 6 p.m.,” he said.

The motion for Mark Venema’s resignation was approved.

Township Clerk Diana Venema also made a statement announcing her resignation during the meeting.

"In 2020, I chose to run for Peacock Township clerk and was excited to serve the electors/taxpayers of Peacock Township,” Diana stated. “I have taken hours of training via MTA (Michigan Township Association), Michigan E-Learning Center and Michigan Bureau of Elections to become familiar with township law. 

“Attempts to implement positive process changes and guidelines are only met with resistance,” she continued. “Board members comments such as ‘She thinks she knows everything’ and ‘Why are they pushing MTA guidelines?’ are only a few comments to substantiate this resistance. I do not understand why Peacock Township continues to pay MTA annual membership fee of approximately $700, but chooses not to utilize and stay current on elected officials' training.

"In my tenure as township clerk, I have experienced bullying tactics by a board trustee and recently witnessed a community member verbally assault the supervisor while the board members chose to watch this outrage and do nothing,” she said. “I am appalled at the behavior of this board and no longer wish to serve with them.

“While I am disappointed in this decision, I believe immediate resignation is in my best interest. My hope is that the Peacock Township board of trustees will push past personal agendas and focus on what is in the best interest of the electors/taxpayers of this township,” her statement read. “After all, we are elected by the people to serve the people."

The motion for Diana Venema’s resignation was approved.

With Mark's resignation as supervisor, he is no longer qualified to serve as president of the Lake County Township Association or be on that board, as well.

With the resignation of Diana, her deputy clerk, Chris Walker, also will no longer serve her position, unless the board agreed to keep her on. When asked if she would be interested in the clerk's position, Walker declined.

Trustee Marsha Bouwkamp was designated as the board member to deal with the township attorney, as Mark was the contact person up to this point.

During public comment, several citizens expressed regret that the supervisor and clerk resigned, and thanked them for their service, encouraging them to stay on the board and fight this through.

Sauble Township Clerk Gail Raad, who was in attendance to show support for the Venema's, said during the public comment portion of the meeting that Peacock Township residents can recall officials by going to the Lake County Clerk Patti Pacola, if they want to attempt to have board members removed before the 2024 election.

The deadline to run for Peacock Township clerk or supervisor is April 19, for the August primary.