UPDATE, 11/5/2017, 9:16 p.m.: On November 3, Albion resident Chad Baase submitted new language to recall Albion Mayor Garrett Brown. The Calhoun County Election Commission will review the language on Monday, Nov. 20 at 9:00 a.m.
On the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 31, the Calhoun County Elections Commission rejected petition language submitted by Albion resident Chad Baase to recall Mayor Garrett Brown by a 2-1 vote.
If passed, Baase would have had 60 days to collect 439 signatures from Albion residents to recall Brown. If the signatures were gathered and approved, a special election would have been held, giving residents a chance to vote a new mayor into office.
The CCEC held the review hearing to ensure that the petition language was factual and clear, not to debate its merits. Petition language needs to be factual and clear so that the official in question — in this instance, Brown — can identify what conduct caused the recall petition language to be submitted and so that he may respond to it effectively, as stated by Michigan election law.
The petition language stated, “Non-compliance of City Charter creating a hostile work environment for City Manager Sheryl Mitchell, causing her to submit her resignation letter.”
Calhoun County Clerk and Register of Deeds Anne Norlander stated that facts were verifiable events while conclusions were judgements drawn from those facts. She found the statement that Brown did not comply with the city charter and that he created a hostile work environment were conclusions, not facts. The statements did not explain how Brown did not comply and created a hostile work environment.
Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert had similar sentiments.
“In a recall petition, if [Brown] would wish to fight the recall, he would have to be able to know what he’s fighting against,” he said. “In this case, he may not know what he’s fighting against. So the noncompliance of the city charter — what exactly is the noncompliance? What exactly is the hostile work environment?”
Calhoun County Treasurer Brian Wensauer found the petition language to be both factual and clear.
Baase said he submitted petition language because he felt that Brown and Mayor Pro Tem Sonya Brown wanted Mitchell out of office. During Mitchell’s evaluation as city manager, Garrett Brown and Sonya Brown gave Mitchell a 3.4 and a 3.8 out of five, respectively. All other council members gave Mitchell a score of 4.4 and above.
Baase also claims that Garrett Brown is overstepping his power as mayor and impeding on Mitchell’s work.
Albion is a weak-mayor form of government. The legislative decisions of the city is placed in the hands of the council, which the mayor is a part of. The administrative decisions of the city is placed in the hands of the city manager.
On Monday, Oct. 31, Mitchell withdrew her letter of resignation at what was to be her last city council meeting.
On Oct. 13, a personal protection order against Brown was approved by the Calhoun County Circuit Court. The accuser, a resident of Albion, said that Brown was stalking her, looking into her house from her backyard.