In Green Charter Township, Michigan, a recall election seeking to remove James Chapman (R) from his position as supervisor, Janet Clark (R) from her position as clerk, Denise MacFarlane (R) from her position as treasurer, and Roger Carroll (R) and Dale Jernstadt (R) from their positions as trustees is scheduled for November 7, 2023. Former Trustees James Peek (R) and Gary Todd (R) were also subjects of the recall effort. Peek resigned on June 13, 2023, and Todd resigned on September 13, 2023.
The recall effort began on April 28, 2023, when organizers filed petitions with the Mecosta County Clerk. The petitions to recall each official gave the following as the reason for the recall effort: “…voted yes to approve a resolution adopted by the Township Board of the Township at a meeting held on the 13th day of December 2022 titled ‘CHARTER TOWNSHIP OF GREEN COUNTY OF MECOSTA RESOLUTION NO. 01-122022,’ a ‘RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT GOTION INC AND THEIR BRINGING THEIR INDUSTRIAL PROJECT TO GREEN CHARTER TOWNSHIP.’”
Michigan requires recall petitions to undergo a clarity/factual hearing. For recall petitions targeting local officials, the county election commission is the body that makes clarity/factual determinations. The circuit court hears appeals. The Mecosta County Election Commission approved the Green Charter Township petitions for circulation on May 11, 2023.
In response to the recall effort, Chapman said, “Those who are promoting this [recall] continue to say that it will cancel the Gotion project coming in, and that is false.” Chapman appealed the language of the petition to recall him. The 49th Circuit Court ruled that the petition’s language was acceptable.
Clark and Peek were first elected in 1988, Todd was first elected in 1990, and MacFarlane was first elected in 2008. Chapman was first appointed as supervisor in 2017 and elected to a full term in 2020. Jernstadt was first appointed in 2018 and elected to a full term in 2020, and Carroll was first elected in 2020.
Recall elections in Michigan do not appear on the ballot as a yes or no question. Instead, the recall appears as a special election in which the official facing recall runs against the candidate or candidates seeking to replace him or her. The top vote-getter wins the election and fills the office for the rest of the term. If the official facing recall does not receive the highest number of votes, the recall is successful and removes the official from office.
Each recalled official is facing one challenger in the election. Chapman faces Jason Kruse in the race for supervisor, Clark faces Corri Riebow in the race for clerk, MacFarlane faces Robert Henderson in the race for treasurer, Carroll faces Kelly Cushway in one of the trustee races, and Jernstadt faces Jeffrey Thorne in the other.
Recall supporters in Michigan have 60 days from the date the first signature is collected to collect signatures equal to 25% of the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last general election in the electoral district of the officer whose recall is sought. Recall organizers must submit a petition within 180 days of its approval for circulation.
Mecosta County Clerk Marcee Purcell deemed the petitions to recall Clark, MacFarlane, Carroll, Jernstadt, and Todd sufficient on August 14, 2023, which allowed the recall to proceed. The petition to recall Chapman was deemed sufficient on August 30, 2023, following the resolution of his appeal of the petition’s language. Chapman was added to the ballot for the recall election. Todd was removed from the ballot after his resignation.
In our most recent recall report, covering recalls from January to June 2023, Ballotpedia tracked 149 recall efforts against 227 officials. This was less than in 2022 when we recorded 152 recall efforts against 240 officials by June. The most recall efforts we tracked by mid-year was in 2016 when we tracked 189 recall efforts. The fewest was in 2019 when we tracked 72 recall efforts by mid-year.