By Mary Drier
TUSCOLA COUNTY — Because of new provisions in election laws approved during lame duck sessions in December 2012, the proposed recall of Akron Village President Juanita Hollister was rejected during a clarity hearing Thursday.
Now, under Public Acts 417 and 418, instead of just determining if the proposed recall language is clear and understandable, election commission members now also have to determine if the statements on the recall are “factual.”
Under the old law, the election commission only determined if the wording on the petition could be clearly understood. It made no determination on the facts for the reason for the recall petition’s filing.
Tuscola County Commission members, Clerk Jodi Fetting, Probate Judge Nancy Thane, and Treasurer Pat Gray each reviewed the recall language which said Hollister should be recalled for the following reasons: 1. Lack of leadership ability, there-by causing the resignation of a police chief, DPW supervisor and a village council member.
2. Fiscal irresponsibility causing the village to amend the budget up by $125,000.
3. Attempted malfeasance by trying to charge the village a $60 meeting fee for talking to residents.”
With this new provisions that now have to be taken into consideration, making a decision is “defiantly a challenging situation,” noted Fetting.
Fetting, Thane, and Gary each agreed the wording on the petition met the first part of election law in being clear and understandable, but they each questioned being able to determine the factualness of the first two provisions in the petition.
Thane explained the statements of “lack of leadership” and being “fiscal irresponsible” were a matter of opinion.
The three commission members each agreed they could not determine if the first two provisions were factual, and therefore had to reject the entire petition because they have to make a determination on a petition overall not just sections of it.
This is the first time Tuscola County’s Election Commission convened since recall election laws changed. Plus, it was the first time Fetting and Thane, who are each newly elected, have conducted a recall.
The attempted recall petition was filed by Robert Sode, who used to be the Akron Village President until he decided not to seek election and Hollister was elected.
After the petition was rejected, Thane explained filing a challenge in circuit court on the decision was an option or another petition could just be field with different wording.
Sode held up a paper saying it was new recall petition against Hollister he planned to file immediately after the meeting was adjourned.
Fetting confirmed Sode did file another petition.
The next step is for Fetting to notify Hollister of the new petition and its wording by mail, which won’t be until next week.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at [email protected]