By Tom Gilchrist
CARO — County officials on Thursday rejected a proposed petition intended to force a recall election for Dayton Township Trustee Robert Steele, though new recall petitions were filed the same day in an attempt to recall Steele and Supervisor Robert Cook.
The Tuscola County Election Commission — county Clerk Jodi Fetting, Treasurer Pat Donovan-Gray and Probate Judge Nancy L. Thane — voted 3 to 0 to reject the language proposed by Robert Adams, who wants to recall Steele.
“The recall petition was denied and found to be non-factual based on the first sentence,” Fetting told The Advertiser.
The petition’s first sentence alleges Steele “on January 5, 2015 voted in support of a property tax increase of one mill for four years.”
Steele maintains he didn’t vote in favor of higher taxes, but simply voted to place a tax proposal before the township’s 1,439 registered voters.
State law provides that if any reason for the recall is not factual or of sufficient clarity, the County Election Commission shall reject the entire recall petition.
Later on Thursday afternoon following the rejection of proposed language for Steele’s petition, Adams filed a new petition asking for a recall election for Steele. The new petition states Adams wants to recall Steele because: “Trustee Robert Steele voted in support of a 10% raise for Supervisor Robert Cook. Motion passed with a roll call vote with Satchel dissenting.”
When asked about his vote to give Cook a raise, Steele said “He’s one of the lowest-paid supervisors in the state.”
“You gotta do business when you’re at a township board meeting,” Steele added. “Next thing you know, we won’t even be able to pay the bills without getting recalled.
“If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.”
Also on Thursday afternoon, Rod Merten withdrew his first proposed petition demanding a recall election for Cook, and filed a new petition with fewer words. The new petition states Merten wants to recall Cook because: “On February 9, 2015, Supervisor Robert Cook voted in support of a 10% raise for himself. Motion passed with a roll call vote with Satchel dissenting.”
Following Thursday’s activity at the Tuscola County Courthouse, the County Election Commission is set to meet March 16 to review the proposed language for recall petitions for Cook, Steele and Trustee James Satchel. The meeting in Probate Court starts at 1 p.m.
On Feb. 27, Dr. Richard Horsch a proposed recall petition for Satchel, alleging Satchel should be recalled because “At its January 2015 Board Meeting, the Dayton Township Board unanimously voted to censure trustee James Satchel.”
Earlier this week, Satchel told the Advertiser that “I was never given what I had violated. I never was charged with anything, and even Richard Horsch — who filed the recall — asked the board twice on Feb. 9 ‘What are you charging him with?’ There was no comment from the board. I feel I violated nothing and they knew they have nothing.”
Satchel and Steele have traded barbs occasionally at township meetings. Cook and Satchel also have debated various topics.
Satchel said this week that “I believe both sides can come together and find some common ground and — as Christian men — heal this community.”