Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

County Commissioners risk recall over road patrol subsidy?

23. October 2005 • Murph
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According to the Chelsea Standard, County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum has been approached by “various groups and individuals” asking about the procedure for recalling County Commissioners.

Scio Township Trustee Chuck Ream, spokesman for the S.O.S. Committee, and Ypsilanti Township Clerk Brenda Stumbo, also a member of the committee, said Monday that they do not know of any organized recall effort.

A recall campaign would target individual commissioners to shift the voting majority of the County Board into one that opposes cuts to sheriff’s deputies, Ream said.

Three commissioners would be targeted for recall in such an effort, he said. One of those commissioners would be Stephen Solowczuk, R-District 3, Ream said, adding that the two others would represent rural constituencies, although he said he doesn’t know who those commissioners would be.

(Maybe Larry will chime in here with more analysis…)



  1. An extremely reliable source active in the S.O.S. Committee told me a couple of weeks ago that people had asked Larry to come up with the number of petition signatures necessary to recall county commissioners.

    My source did not mention any particular commissioner or group of commissioners.

    I am amused by Ream’s quotes in the Chelsea Standard: He (and Stumbo) don’t know of any organized recall effort, but Ream knows who will be targeted. 8-)

    The number of signatures necessary for a valid recall petition is 25% of the number of voters who voted for governor in the previous gubernatorial election (in 2002) within the district of the county commissioner sought to be recalled.

    The tricky part is calculating the number of voters for governor, since county commissioner districts don’t necessarily follow neat boundaries.
       —David Cahill    Oct. 23 '05 - 02:52PM    #
  2. Apparently it is standard practice, when needed to determine signature requirements, to use statistics derived from the qualified voter file (which tracks who voted per election) to allocate gubernatorial votes to the two or more sections of a split precinct.

    My office has received a general query about the number of signatures required to recall every commissioner, and a more targeted query about recalling four specific commissioners: Solowczuk, Kern, Prater, and Brackenbury.

    Recall proponents have to start by proposing language stating the reasons for recall, which must meet certain standards for “clarity”.

    The Washtenaw County Election Commission, consisting of the County Clerk, the County Treasurer, and a Probate Judge, decide whether proposed language meets the legal clarity standard. Truth or falsity is not at issue in these proceedings.

    In August, we considered and approved proposed recall language targeting two Augusta Township officials.

    Yesterday morning (yes, on a Saturday), we considered and disapproved proposed recall language targeting three Pittsfield Township officials.

    I expect the Pittsfield Township language will be rewritten and resubmitted, perhaps as early as Monday.

    The state Bureau of Elections tells us that recall activity is up sharply throughout the state. For example, recalls are proceeding against sheriffs in Ionia and Arenac counties.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 23 '05 - 04:26PM    #
  3. Hmm. I would not think that “clarity” would be much of a problem for petitioners. Wouldn’t it be fine just to say “So-and-so” voted for or against X on such-a-such a date”?

    Larry, what did the approved Augusta Township language and the disapproved Pittsfield Township language say?
       —David Cahill    Oct. 23 '05 - 05:24PM    #
  4. I don’t have copies of the proposed language here at home. Hmmm, probably these things ought to appear on the county’s official web site.

    Anyway, the Augusta Township recall language was indeed very specific with dates and events. The Pittsfield Township recall language was not.

    It is also a requirement that the recall language cite actions which took place during the current term of office, and the Pittsfield language (lacking any dates) was also unclear in that respect.

    Both the Augusta approval and the Pittsfield disapproval were unanimous decisions of the Election Commission.

    At the meeting, I expressed my reluctance to disapprove language because I think the requirement of “clear” reasons unduly limits the constitutional right to recall elected officials. However, it is my responsibility as a member of the Election Commission to uphold the law. And the petitioners can quickly repair the problem by submitting new language.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 23 '05 - 07:14PM    #
  5. Election commission rejects Pittsfield recall language—again
       —Dale    Nov. 16 '05 - 03:59PM    #