Scio Township recall efforts are moving to the next step

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The recall efforts brought against Scio Township Supervisor Will Hathaway and Board Trustee Jane Vogel are going into the next step of the process after the recall petition language was approved by the Washtenaw County Election Commission.

On Nov. 5, a virtual recall language clarity and factuality review hearing was held for language submitted by township resident David Read calling for the recall of Scio Township Supervisor Hathaway and for language submitted by township resident Patricia Stein for the recall of Scio Township Trustee Vogel.

The election commission found the language of both petitions submitted to be of sufficient clarity and factuality to enable the officer whose recall is sought and the electors to identify the course of conduct which is the basis of the recall.

The county election commission is made up of county clerk Lawrence Kestenbaum, county treasurer Catherine McClary and Darlene O’Brien, a Washtenaw County Probate Judge. 

The vote on both petitions’ language was 2 to 1 with McClary voting to reject them.

This was the second recall hearing for petition language brought against Hathaway and Vogel. The first recall petition language was rejected.

The recall petition language that was approved for Supervisor Hathaway says he called for a special meeting of the Scio Township Board of Trustees to occur at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 at which he requested and was granted a doubling of his salary.

The recall petition language brought against Vogel states: At the Scio Township Board of Trustees special meeting held at 4:00 p.m. on August 17, 2021, Trustee Vogel voted to double the Supervisor’s salary.

Toward the end of their deliberations, Kestenbaum said the election commission has a limited role. He said their decisions are not that they are endorsing the recall language in anyway, but rather they accept the language as clear and factual.

Prior to the vote on the Hathaway recall petition, Kestenbaum spoke as a Scio resident and said he continued to be appalled, disappointed and somewhat baffled by this dispute and wished they heeded the advice at the last hearing to find a path forward to a peaceful resolution. However, he said the commission must follow its mission.

McClary said she agreed they have a narrow mission and they rule based on the law. Her issues with the Hathaway petition language was that she said she believes it has some inflammatory and/or prejudicial wording, such as “granted” and “doubling” that lends itself to be less than factual.

O’Brien said she understands those concerns, but agreed their charge is narrow and that this is something that should now go to the voters because it is of sufficient clarity to enable the officer whose recall is being sought and the electors to identify the course of conduct that is the basis for the recall.

According to the process, the recall petitions circulation can now begin. 

However, the determination by the Election Commission may be appealed by the officer whose recall is sought to the circuit court in the county.

In explaining the process to the Sun Times News, Edward Golembiewski, Washtenaw County’s Chief Deputy Clerk / Register & Director of Elections, said an appeal shall be filed not more than 10 days after the determination of the Election Commission.

He said if a determination of the board of county election commissioners is appealed to the circuit court in the county, the recall petition is not valid for circulation and shall not be circulated until a determination of whether each reason is factual and of sufficient clarity is made by the circuit court or until 40 days after the date of the appeal, whichever is sooner.

A petition is not valid for circulation if at any time a circuit court determines that each reason on the recall petition is not factual and of sufficient clarity.

The Sun Times News has reached out to Hathaway and Vogel and will update this story once further information is received.

To learn more about the recalls, go to https://www.washtenaw.org/2430/Recall-Activity-by-Year.

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