State Representative Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) got an earful from people living in her district Tuesday night. It was the first time Gamrat held office hours in Allegan County since news of a sex and cover up scandal broke last month.
“You need to resign!” someone in the crowd shouted, before the first question was asked. “Give up your job. You weren’t working in the first place.”
The standing room only crowd jammed into Fennville City Hall to talk to their state representative. The back door was propped open and people tried to hear, even through the rain.
Many offered Gamrat forgiveness for her role in an attempted cover up of an extramarital affair with another state representative and for lying about her role, but the majority raised their hands when someone asked who in the room wanted her gone.
Several people told Gamrat they simply can’t trust her. Others said her actions are tarnishing the Republican Party, even Christianity.
They wanted to talk details about what could happen if state lawmakers vote to censure Gamrat, which she’s requested, as opposed to removing her from office.
“How does (censure) do anything to improve your lousy level of effectiveness right now?” Sonja Skerbeck asked.
“It depends, I guess, on what your definition of effectiveness is,” Gamrat responded. She says some people tell her the way she’s voted is effective, or that having constituent services is effective, or that introducing bills she’s said she would is effective.
Though there were supporters, the standing room only crowd was pretty hostile at times.
Alan Vanderkooi approached Gamrat after the meeting.
“I think you’re ineffective. You ought to resign. You’re wasting taxpayers’ money. You cannot be effective for what you have done,” he said.
“Ok. Thank you” Gamrat replied quietly, before her son, Joey Gamrat told the group around her they had to go.
“I think it’s a witch hunt, but that’s me personally,” Pat Peterson said. She says establishment Republicans haven’t liked Gamrat since the beginning, and are turning the affair into a bigger ordeal than she thinks it should be.
“The whole thing, it’s a bit much,” she said.
“Some that are against her might have to look at, is bad better than none?” William Geresy asked after the meeting. “Why shoot yourself in both feet?”
If she resigns, or is recalled, he points out a special election wouldn’t be called until next spring, leaving residents without someone in Lansing working on their behalf.
“I’d rather have nobody in there,” Ken Altman said. His buddies Larry Holland and Ed Galka nod their heads. “I agree,” they add, “Me too.”
“I don’t think she should just be censured, she needs to lose her job. Because if she just gets censured then she still collects a paycheck.” Altman said.
Hearings in Lansing concerning Gamrat and State Representative Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) continue today.