RECALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS at the Shiawassee County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 25 when they submitted the language to the county clerk’s office. Shown are 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).

   Following a ruling made on Tuesday, Oct. 26 by 35th District Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart – dismissing appeals from Shiawassee County Commissioners Root, Garber and Plowman – the committee will immediately begin the effort of recalling the three commissioners.

   The earliest election against Root, Garber and Plowman will be May 2022. Commissioners will all be up for re-election that following November.

(Independent File Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

 

   Thirty-fifth Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart dismissed requests from three county commissioners to stop recall petitions from circulating in a ruling on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

   The recall effort is directed at previous Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners Chair Jeremy Root (R-Dist. 5) and commissioners Cindy Garber (R-Dist. 6) and John Plowman (R-Dist. 7) for their involvement in a problematic July 15 vote giving elected officials bonuses from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, intended for COVID-19 relief – and also because of an alleged Open Meetings Act (OMA) violation in the same meeting. The OMA violation is part of an ongoing lawsuit.

   Since the July 15 meeting, the money awarded to the elected officials was returned, though the incident remains a contentious point in the county, which is now under a state-level criminal investigation through the Attorney General and the Michigan State Police.

   The Tuesday ruling by Judge Stewart dismissing the appeals, offers that the recall language against the three commissioners is clear and that the three failed to comply with court rules and/or follow court procedures.

   Earlier in the process of the recall effort, the election commission, conducting a factual-and-clarity hearing in September, had also supported the language in the recall – also recognizing it to be clear. The election commission included Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson, Probate Judge Thomas Dignan and Shiawassee County Treasurer Julie Sorenson. New Shiawassee Corporate Attorney Eric Morris was on hand for that hearing, as well.

   Anthony Karhoff, assisting with the recall effort, shared, “We the people won.” Karhoff explained in a text that the recall against Root, Garber and Plowman “can officially move forward,” following Judge Stewart’s dismissal.

   Karhoff added he will be collecting signatures during the first week of November and will be stationed in District 5. He will publically announce the locations soon.

   Matthew Shepard, also a recall committee member, shared he is “getting petitions printed and seeking additional volunteers to assist with collecting signatures.” He will provide more information on upcoming locations through Facebook.

   In response to Judge Stewart’s Tuesday ruling, Commissioner Cindy Garber responded in an email. “The recall petition language is misleading to the public and not factual,” she stated. “I am disappointed in the decision made by the election commission to allow this. The ruling on Tuesday to dismiss the appeal on a technicality was also very disappointing. This recall effort is personally and politically motivated, targeting three Republican board members and is not in the best interest of this county.”   

   Commissioner John Plowman offered the following in an email: “I was very surprised. My attorneys and I had complied with everything the court requested and more. Win or lose, l appealed the recall boards decision. The petition was vague, rambling, incoherent and untruthful. We were scheduled for our hearing (on Wednesday). With the judge’s opinion on Tuesday and dismissing the case at the same time, we were stunned.” Plowman shared he believed the originally planned hearing set for Wednesday, Oct. 27 would have allowed the commissioners to prevail “in our logic. I did not get my day in court. I was denied my due process.”

   The Wednesday hearing did not happen as Judge Stewart filed his ruling on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

Shiawassee County Judge Rules the Recall Effort Can Continue was last modified: November 2nd, 2021 by Karen Elford