2009-08-06 / Front Page

Richfield recall petitions may circulate, panel rules

Petitions seeking the recall of all five members of the Richfield Township Board may circulate, the Roscommon County Election Commission ruled Tuesday.

It was the fourth attempt to gain approval for petition language against Supervisor Jerry Campbell and the third attempt against Clerk Pam Scott, Treasurer Judy Scroggin and Trustees Tula Alexander and Pete Reili.

The approved language says Campbell, at a March board meeting, "abused his position and power as moderator... by refusing to allow the township meeting to proceed, and interfered with the rights of the township clerk, township treasurer and two township trustees by refusing to allow them to discuss or address items on the agenda and stopping the business of the township from going forth." It adds that on April 19, Campbell received a reprimand from the Michigan State Tax Commission for interfering with the township board of review.

At Tuesday's hearing in Roscommon, Campbell said the language should specify how he abused his power as moderator and refused to allow the meeting to proceed. He said he never received the reprimand referred to in the language.

But Roscommon County Clerk Ann Bonk, one of three election commissioners, said, "It's pretty clear. Voters could make a decision on that." Since the commission's job is just to rule on the clarity of the language, it doesn't matter if Campbell received the letter, she said.

Bonk and Treasurer Rebecca Ragan voted to approve the language. Probate Judge Douglas Dosson, the third member of the commission, was absent.

None of the other officials commented to the commission on the petition wording filed against them, and all four sets of language were approved.

Petitions seeking Scott's recall say she "threatened to remove the supervisor Jerry Campbell from chairman duties at the special meeting if he did not immediately move to the vote" and that he was "removed from his chairman duties June 22 without cause and a vote subsequently took place without the voters questions being answered."

Wording on the latest petition against Scroggin says she "refused to allow the supervisor Jerry Campbell to proceed with answers and voted to remove" him from his chairman duties and "attempted to have the supervisor physically removed from the special meeting" by township police. The proposed wording for Rieli and Alexander says they voted with Scroggin and Scott to change the insurance benefit program without answering questions from voters, Rieli made a motion to remove Campbell as the meeting chairman and Alexander interrupted Campbell's position of moderator "immediately after Pam Scott threatened to remove Jerry Campbell as chairman."

Bonk said the circulators of petitions seeking the recall of each official will have 180 days to obtain the signatures of 429 Richfield Township residents to force a recall election; all of the signatures must be obtained within a 90-day period. The earliest an election could be held is next February, Bonk said. She added that the election commission's decision could be appealed in Circuit Court.

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