Janice Daniels recall, Troy, Michigan (2012)
A vote about whether to recall Janice Daniels from her position as mayor of Troy, Michigan in Oakland County took place on November 6, 2012. Daniels was recalled. The recall effort was launched in February 2012. Daniels became mayor in 2010, winning the election by 600 votes. After the recall election, councilman Dane Slater was selected to serve as interim mayor. A special election to fill the mayoral vacancy took place in May 2013.
Reasons for recall
A political action committee called Recall Janice Daniels was behind the recall effort. Matthew Binkowski was listed as the petition sponsor. Recall organizers initially filed two separate recall petitions. One petition faulted Daniels for voting against millions of dollars in federal funding to build a transit center near the Troy/Birmingham border. The official petition language charged Daniels with "voting to reject a $8,485,212 Federal investment grant to the City of Troy on December 19, 2011."
The second petition, which was ultimately the petition that was circulated in the community, took issue with Daniels' views on homosexuality, her behavior during her swearing-in, and a possible violation of City Council meeting rules. One of the grounds for recall accuses Daniels of "refusing to swear to support the Troy City Charter in taking the oath of office and later referring to the Charter as a "whimsical document." Daniels has been in the news regarding Facebook comments she made about homosexuality, and her subsequent comments at a meeting of Troy High School's Gay-Straight Alliance. The official recall petition charges Daniels with "embarrassing the citizens of the City of Troy on January 9, 2012, by telling high school students planning an anti-bullying program that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous."
Daniels faced backlash over a Facebook post she made in June that said “I think I am going to throw away my ‘I Love New York’ carrying bag now that queers can get married there." In a radio interview in June 2012, Daniels said, "What I said while I was mayor...I was in a business meeting, I come from a business perspective...I said that I would bring a doctor into a meeting that would say that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous...Had I been with a group of smokers I might have said I would like to bring a doctor into this meeting to say that smoking is dangerous.”
Recall opponents launch campaign
On March 12, Daniels supporter Nicholas Cherasaro filed 13 recall petitions, including 10 petitions to recall Daniels and one petition each to recall councilman Wade Fleming, councilman Dane Slater and Mayor Pro Tem Maureen McGinnis. The recall petitions charged Daniels with offenses such as "wearing tan shoes with a black suit to a council meeting on February 20th, 2012," and "smiling at the public during a city council meeting on February 6th, 2010." The recall petitions against Slater, McGinnis, and Fleming fault the officials for "voting to approve a Transit Center cost not to exceed $6,272,500 grant to the City of Troy on January 17, 2012." The recall petitions against Slater, McGinnis, and Fleming were approved on March 28th, but signature-gathering efforts have yet to begin.
Matthew Binkowski responded to the alternate recall campaign by saying, "It's not at all surprising that Janice's supporters would file 10 joke petitions with the County Elections Board. That's the problem with Janice and her supporters – they simply don't take the business of government seriously." A clarity hearing for the 13 additional petitions took place on March 28th. The ten "joke" recall petitions against Daniels, submitted by her supporters, were all rejected due to unclear language. The petitions against Fleming, Slater, and McGinnis were approved.
Cherasaro said, "What we’re trying to do...is show how ludicrous the prior petitions (against Daniels) have been."
Regarding the recall effort against her, Daniels says, "Representative republicanism is challenging. It always has been. It always will be. But with all its flaws, it is still the best governmental system known to mankind. Let the process work itself out.” Daniels started a website to help her fight the recall campaign. She writes, "I was elected by the majority of the voters in Troy to address fiscal transparency and integrity in budgeting. I ask each of you to join me in our effort to help unite us to create a better place to live, work and play. Please donate today to help me fight this recall effort."
Path to the ballot
The recall group filed petitions with the Oakland County Clerk's Office on February 13. The Oakland County Election Commission assessed the clarity of the recall petition language at a meeting on March 1. The commission unanimously approved the petition language on the first petition, which challenged Daniels' vote against millions of dollars in federal funding to build a transit center. In a 2-1 vote, the commission denied approval on the petition challenging Daniels' views on homosexuality as well as her behavior during her swearing-in. Recall organizers had 180 days to submit 7,985 signatures on the approved petition.
On March 5, recall organizers submitted a revised petition in an effort to address concerns that were brought up in the original clarity hearing. Oakland Probate Judge Linda Hallmark and Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, two of the three members of the Oakland County Election Commission, expressed concerns that Daniels' behavior while taking her oath of office took place before she was sworn in.
In a clarity hearing on March 15, the Oakland County Election Commission approved the language on the second, revised petition by a vote of 2-1. Recall organizer Matthew Binkowski said that recall supporters will only be collecting signatures on the second recall petition, approved for circulation on March 15, rather than the first recall petition, which was approved for circulation on March 1.
The deadline for signature submission was June 15. On June 4, petition organizers said they had gathered 92% of the nearly 8,000 signatures necessary to force a recall election.
On June 12, recall organizers submitted 9,300 signatures to the Oakland County Elections Division. Recall supporters needed to have 7,985 signatures verified in order to force a recall election to take place on November 6th, 2012.
Daniels challenged the validity of the petitions, claiming that the "type size" used on the petitions invalidated the signatures. Daniels' complaint was rejected.
On June 28, the Oakland County Elections Division announced that it had finished verifying the submitted signatures. 8,882 signatures were found to be valid, which was more than the 7,985 signatures necessary to trigger a recall election. Daniels had until July 12 to challenge the signatures.
On July 12, Daniels filed an official signature challenge with the county. The challenge resulted in five additional signatures being disqualified, bringing the total number of verified signatures to 8,877, which was sufficient to force a recall election. The recall election took place on November 6, 2012, and Daniels was recalled.
The language that appeared on the November 6 ballot was as follows:
Statement of Reason:(1) for referring to the Troy City Charter as a "whimsical" document in a November 21, 2011 interview with the Detroit Free Press; (2) for declaring, during an "office hours" forum on January 9, 2012, that "the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous;" (3) for publicly attacking city employees during the January 9, 2012 City Council meeting while reading a 20 minute "position paper" into the record; and (4) for failing to support a Federal investment in the City of Troy of over $8.4 million, by voting against the Troy Transit Center project on three occasions (December 19, 2011, January 17, 2012, and February 20, 2012).
Justification of Conduct in Office: The language of this recall contains untrue statements. Stand together with me for smaller government, lowered taxes and less regulation so that our families and future generations will prosper. I voiced dismay that the prior council at times ignored our city charter and that they treated it as "whimsical." I will never treat it as whimsical. I hold to our city charter and I make no exceptions. There was no attack on city employees. I voiced concerns on behalf of Troy residents about the city manager's information presentation. Troy City Charter Section 4.8 states: "Council shall have the power to inquire into the conduct of any officer…into matters in which the municipality has an interest." I have a Charter-mandated obligation to question management when residents have concerns. The transit center will burden the City with many thousands of dollars in costs. I campaigned that I would vote no on the transit center and I did exactly as I promised. I worked successfully to help bring about the reopening of the library on Saturdays and on-line disclosure of every check and contract the city has. Reward these good accomplishments. Allow me to continue to serve you faithfully as your Mayor.
Shall Janice Daniels be recalled from the office of Mayor?
|Should Janice Daniels be recalled?|
Election results from Oakland County Election Results
Controversy over replacing the mayor
Since Daniels was recalled from office, the city council was required to appoint a new mayor on or before December 11, 2012. On November 12, the city council chose councilman Dane Slater to serve as interim mayor. According to Troy's city charter, Slater will serve until Troy's next regularly scheduled mayoral election, which is scheduled to take place on November 5, 2013.
However, according to Michigan state law, Troy must hold a special election on February 26, 2013 to fill the mayor's seat. Michigan's Director of Elections Chris Thomas sent Troy a letter on November 16 demanding that the city hold a special election to fill the mayoral vacancy. On November 20, the Troy city council deadlocked 3-3 over whether to ask Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette whether state elections law trumps the Troy city charter. The state of Michigan threatened to sue Troy to force the city to hold a special election, which is estimated to cost Troy taxpayers over $100,000.
On November 30, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson sued the city of Troy over how the city is handling the mayoral vacancy. Johnson said, "Troy residents have the right to choose the city's mayor in February, and the attorney general and I will see that that happens." The state's lawsuit was heard on December 12 by Oakland County Circuit Judge Denise Langford-Morris. At that hearing, Langford-Morris could have immediately ordered the city to hold the election. However, at the hearing, Judge Lanford-Morris ordered a compromise in the dispute. Langford-Morris ordered Troy to hold a special election in May 2013, ruling that state law requires that a special election be held “on the next regular election date,” but conceding that “it would be virtually impossible for the election to be held in February because of the holidays."
- Website of the City of Troy
- Recall Janice Daniels Website
- Janice Daniels' Website
- No Troy Recall Website
- Detroit News "Vote on recall polarizes Troy," October 19, 2012
- Detroit News "Troy mayor to face recall election," July 17, 2012
- Oakland Press "Troy Mayor Janice Daniels "relieved" to be recalled," November 7, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "Troy Mayor Janice Daniels could face recall vote," February 15, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "Effort to recall Troy Mayor Janice Daniels is off to a fast start," April 1, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "Judge orders special election to replace Troy's recalled mayor," December 1s, 2012
- Troy Patch "Group Files Revised Petition to Recall Troy Mayor ," March 5, 2012
- Troy Patch "Troy Mayor Recording: Daniels Calls 'Queer' Comment on Facebook 'Inconsequential'," January 30, 2012
- Oakland Press "Recall petitions filed in support of embattled Troy mayor," March 12, 2012
- CBS Detroit "Troy Mayor: ‘Homosexual Lifestyle Is Dangerous’," June 13, 2012
- Troy Patch "13 More Recall Petitions Filed Against Troy Mayor, City Council Members," March 13, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "Election officials reject joke recall petitions for Troy mayor," March 28, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "Troy mayor recall effort goes on," March 2, 2012
- Troy Patch "Election Commission Approves Detailed Petition to Recall Troy Mayor," March 15, 2012
- CBS Detroit "Group Says Signatures To Recall Troy Mayor Nearing Goal," June 4, 2012
- Troy Patch "Troy Mayor to Face Recall? Group Submits 9,300 Signatures to County," June 12, 2012
- Troy Patch "Elections Division Rejects Troy Mayor's Petition Challenge," June 25, 2012
- Troy Patch "VERIFIED: Group Has More Than Enough Signatures to Trigger Recall Election of Troy Mayor," June 28, 2012
- Troy Patch "What the Troy Mayor Recall Question Will Look Like On the Ballot," October 3, 2012
- Detroit News "Troy councilman named mayor until 2013 after Daniels recall," November 13, 2012
- Troy Patch "City Administrators Detail Procedure to Follow if Mayor is Recalled," September 11, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "State of Michigan threatens to sue Troy if city doesn't hold mayoral election Feb. 26," November 22, 2012
- Detroit Free Press "State sues Troy over naming of new mayor," December 1, 2012