(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
Recall committee members met at the Shiawassee County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 25 to submit language to the county clerk’s office toward removing Shiawassee County Commissioners Jeremy Root (R-Dist. 5), Cindy Garber (R-Dist. 6) and John Plowman (R-Dist. 7). The committee has to wait five business days – until Tuesday, Aug. 31 – to find out if the recall language is approved. (See an added update on page 2)
Representing the three separate county districts involved in the recall are (See photo, from left) Anthony Karhoff of Bancroft (Dist. 5), Don Goetschy of Sciota Twp. (Dist. 6), Matt Shepard of Perry (Dist. 7) and Jeff Reed of Byron (Dist. 5).
Reed, a village of Byron resident for 18 years, offered he is taking a stand on the recall because, “no one else was going to do it.” Reed is a retired engineer and expressed he has been frustrated with many issues stemming from Root as his commissioner. “I should have run against Root two years ago because he was unopposed then. He can’t hold a job in the private sector, along with taking the $25,000 and then the obscene gesture … He needs to go,” Reed shared some reasons for his involvement in recalling Root, referencing the hazard pay controversy and the obscene gesture Root publically made during a meeting held at the Corunna Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 11 in the presence of children. Root did follow up with an apology at the end of the meeting.
“Years of fighting and corruption in this county have gotten us here,” Shepard said. “A lot has happened in this county dealing with corruption and it’s about to all be exposed.” Shepard has lived in Perry for 14 years and is a veteran.
Goetschy explained that he hopes the public will take the time to look at the recall effort, sharing he plans to be involved in canvassing for signatures. Goetshy, a veteran, has lived in the county for most of his life.
After submitting the language, the elected officials identified in the language will be notified. A public hearing will be held before Probate Judge Thomas Dignan, Treasurer Julie Sorenson and Clerk Caroline Wilson to decide if the petition language is acceptable. If the language is acceptable, the petitioners on the recall committee can begin the process of collecting signatures – roughly 1,100 per district (25-percent of the registered voters in a district). Any signatures collected and submitted back to the clerk can’t be more than 60 days old.
The critical push to remove the commissioners followed the July 15 meeting in which the commissioners voted to give themselves and other county elected officials hazard pay money from the American Rescue Plan Act. Commissioner Greg Brodeur (R-Dist.2), now board chair, was excused from voting in the July 15 meeting since he was attending a funeral. Commissioner Marlene Webster (R-Dist. 1) has stated she voted without knowing she would be receiving any of the funds – believing she was voting for funds to go to front-line county workers. Webster was the first to raise a red flag regarding the vote, also bringing into question a possible open meetings act violation during the same meeting, via social media.
Root received $25,000 of the $557,000 initially disbursed, with John Plowman (R-Dist. 7) and Brandon Marks (R-Dist. 4) receiving $10,000 each. The remaining commissioners received $5,000 each.
Shiawassee County Coordinator Dr. Brian Boggs has shared that all elected officials have since returned the money.
UPDATE: On Wednesday evening, Aug. 25, Shiawassee County Caroline Wilson emailed a public notice stating that a clarity/factual hearing will be held by the Shiawassee County Election Commission on Recall Petitions received including those mentioned in this article. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 7 in the Courts and Health Building at 1:30 p.m. The public notice from Wilson offers that the “purpose of this hearing is to rule on the clarity-factualness of the reasons presented for recall as provided by said Act of 1982.”