New Buffalo Mayor and City Council recall, Michigan (2014)

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An effort to recall the mayor and a city council member in New Buffalo, Michigan from their positions was launched in October 2013. The petition was filed by Susan Gotfired, a New Buffalo resident who said that both Mayor Migs Murray and Mayor Pro Tem Ray Lawson violated both ethics and moral codes.[1][2]

At the time, Murray was serving her second term on the council. She was selected to be mayor in May 2013. Lawson had became mayor pro tem in May.

Two of three submitted petitions were approved by the Berrien County Election Commission.[3] One sought to remove Murray and Lawson from office for voting on August 21, 2012 to appoint then-Mayor William Geisler as city manager. Recall supporters argued that the position was not posted or advertised. They also stated that Geisler did not have a bachelor's degree as a required by the job description. The second petition stated that Murray and Lawson voted to fill a council vacancy prior to a regularly city council meeting which resulted in a council member that was defeated in an election having a say on the vote and a newly elected council member being omitted.[4] According to Gotfried, the latter petition language was chosen for the signature-gathering effort.[5]

Of the petitions Murray said, "If they feel there was wrongdoing, I can assure everyone I did check with the (city) attorney, and everything was done in a timely manner. I’ve got to go by what our city attorney states."[3]

Both Murray and Lawson were recalled on May 6, 2014.[6]

Election results

Mayor of New Buffalo
ApprovedaDonna Messinger 341 68.06%
DefeateddMargaret "Migs" Murray 146 29.14%
DefeateddSi-Osiri 14 2.79%
Election results via: Berrien County Election Returns Accessed May 9, 2014
Council Member of New Buffalo
DefeateddRay Lawson 341 49.49%
ApprovedaGeorge Scarlatis 348 50.51%
Election results via: Berrien County Election Returns Accessed May 9, 2014

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in Michigan

Petitions to recall Murray and Lawson were filed by Gotfried at the county clerk’s office on October 2, 2013. A hearing, for clarity and factual determination, was held on October 18, 2013. The petition language was approved at that meeting. Targeted council members had 10 days to challenge the approved ballot wording. According to reports, no challenges were filed.[7][8]

Recall supporters had 180 days, until April 16, 2014, from the acceptance of the ballot wording to collect a minimum of 144 signatures, 25 percent of New Buffalo voters who cast ballots for governor in the 2010 election. The signatures had be collected within a 60-day period of the 180 days.[4] The petitions for Murray and Lawson were submitted by the January 20, 2014 deadline with 188 and 190 signatures respectively, above the 144 required. A recall election was held on May 6, 2014.[9]

The filing deadline for candidates seeking to participate in the recall election was January 30, 2014. The following candidates appeared on the ballot:[10]

For Mayor Murray's position:[10]

  • Murray
  • Donna Messinger
  • Si-Osiri

For Councilman Lawson's seat:[10]

  • Lawson
  • George Scarlatis

Messinger and Lawson were elected in the recall election to replace Murray and Lawson, respectively. They will serve until terms end in November 2016.[10]

See also

External links

Additional reading