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Posted: 11/18/09

Three RCS board members
may face recall

Observer Staff Writer
      Three of the five Romeo Community School Board of Education members could encounter recalls after petition language was deemed clear by county election officials.
       Of the 38 petitions filed against school board members, nine were deemed clear by county election officials on Nov. 6.
       With a vote of 2-1 each, the Macomb County Elections Commission approved the language of nine petitions filed against Board Treasurer Greg Jacobson, Vice-President Michael Stobak and Secretary Jennifer White.
       The remaining petitions, 19 of which targeted Trustees Sue Hier and Sara Murray, were considered unclear in their language.
       The approved petitions<three for each member<list the following issues for the motive of the recall:
       • Voting yes to outsourcing custodial jobs.
       • Approving the spending of $25,000 for a superintendent search.
       • Voting in favor of terminating the district's former executive business director.
       The election commission is made up of County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh, County Treasurer Ted Wahby and Judge Kenneth Sanborn, acting judge of the Macomb County Probate Court.
       The commission doesn't determine whether the reasons on petitions are valid, only if they're understandable.
       "We don't decide whether it's correct or if it's good when we pass them, we look at whether it's clear for the people signing the petition," said Sanborn.
       Stobak, who attended the hearing, said when it all boils down the recall campaign is about the privatization issue that nearly outsourced more than 30 custodial jobs.
       "Union leadership knows I'll put kids first before the contracts they want the board to sign," he said. "They will do whatever they can to get me off the school board."
       He said he wishes to hold a town hall meeting where residents can come in and ask questions about the recall issue, saying the reasons given are misrepresentations.
       "I want people to understand what they are signing," he said.
       With the petitions' approvals, the recall filed by resident Dan Knepp is now set into motion. The petition language is good for 180 days, and valid signatures must be collected within 90 of those days.
       "I'm quite pleased with the results," said Knepp the day of the hearing. "We picked up the petitions this morning and are ready to start moving forward this week."
       The board members have the option of challenging the validity of the signatures. Regardless, if they are determined to be valid, a special election is held on the next regular election date to determine whether the community wants to recall the members based on the petition's reasons.
       "We do not want to put it on a special election, we don't want to incur any cost to the district, we want it done on a regular election day," said Knepp. "We hope to get it on the February ballot."
       According to the Michigan Department State of Bureau of Elections, in the case of any recall, the counties, cities and townships involved in the conduct of the election must bear the costs of the election and are not subject to state reimbursement.
       The Macomb County Elections Department states if an elected official is voted out, any vacancies created by a recall must be filled by an election, not by appointment. Another special election would be held on the next regular election date to fill the spots.

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