Jackson City Council recall, Michigan (2012)

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An effort to recall five members of the city government of Jackson, Michigan, was launched in October 2012.[1] The recall effort was abandoned in December 2012. The targeted officials were mayor Martin Griffin and city council members Derek Dobies, Laura Dwyer Schlecte and Daniel Greer.

Reasons for recall

Robert Tulloch of Munith, Michigan filed the recall language. While Tulloch is not a resident of Jackson, he owns property in Jackson and is president of the Jackson Area Landlords Association. The catalyst for recall was the handling of former City Manager Larry Shaffer's severance package and a controversial new stormwater fee. Tulloch said, "I own property in the city of Jackson, and I have been affected by the stormwater fees and also this negotiated settlement where they gave away $64,000 of taxpayer money to Larry Shaffer without any authority."[1]

Tulloch wrote an opinion editorial in the Jackson Citizen Patriot discussing his motivations for initiating a recall effort, and encouraging residents of Jackson to come forward and sponsor the recall effort.[2]

Petition language

The petition language against Griffin, which was similar to the petition language for the other targeted officials, read:

"Mayor Griffin voted in favor of the City of Jackson storm water ordinance/fee after assuring voters before the election he would vote to rescind it. Mayor Griffin supported the resignation of city manager Larry Shaffer in the pay off amount of ~ $64,000, which is not part of the manager's contract. This cost pay taxers (sic) an extra of $64,000."

Path to the ballot

The path to the ballot was unclear, because the Michigan Bureau of Elections requires that a recall petition's sponsor live in the district represented by the targeted officials. Since Tulloch does not live in the relevant district, another petition sponsor would have needed to step forward in order for the recall effort to proceed. On October 4, the Jackson County elections director sent an email to Griffin, telling him that she was denying his request for a clarity hearing because of a state law that says, "Every elective officer in the state, except a judicial officer, is subject to recall by the voters of the electoral district in which the officer is elected."[3] In December 2012, Jackson resident Charyl Wozniak filed a separate recall petition against Martin Griffin. However, Wozniak withdrew her petition several days later.[4]

Legal action

After his request for a clarity hearing was denied, Griffin said that he would sue local and state officials, because "A person who has a vested interest in what goes on in an electoral district should have the right to initiate a recall petition against elected officials when they abuse their position. Just because I don't live in the city doesn't mean I should have to keep my mouth shut and allow them to take my tax dollars to be used to pay off Larry Shaffer."[3]

See also