Three Michigan school board members face recall election Nov. 7

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the Sandusky Community School District school board in Michigan are being held on November 7, 2023. School board members Jason Trepkowski, Daniel Gerstenberger, and Jane Jacobson are on the ballot.

Michigan recall elections function like special elections. The officials facing recall run against challengers, and whoever receives the most votes wins the seat. In his recall election, Trepkowski is running against David Heberling. Gerstenberger is running against Katherine Tovar, and Jacobson is running against Kelly Trowhill.

The recall petitions were filed by the group Save the Redskins Logo. The effort began after the school board voted 4-3 on November 28, 2022, to adopt the Wolves as the school district’s new mascot. The board voted to retire the school district’s previous mascot, the Redskins, in April 2022. The reason for recall listed on the recall petitions was a “failure to represent and listen to the voice of the public to retain the Redskin logo.”

“This is more than just the loss of the name Redskins and the logo of Chief Two Guns White Calf,” Rick Spiegel, member of Save the Redskins Logo, said. “It is how the school board went about retiring the logo through lies, dishonesty, deceit and cover up. The board ignored the students’ survey results, as well as the voters’ survey results in the school district, not to mention the pleas from Native Americans to keep the name Redskins and the logo of Chief Two Guns White Calf.”

Trepkowski said there were no lies or deceit involved with the name change. “We had eight meetings before we changed this name, and it was all out in the open. This group didn’t come and these people didn’t come. There is a lot of good people on that board and they don’t hide anything. They’re not out to screw the people over. This board is out for the best interest of the school district and the kids in this district,” Trepkowski said.

Recall supporters had to collect 749 signatures per board member to put the recalls on the ballot. They had 60 days between the collection of the first signature and the collection of the last signature on the petition. Recall supporters filed approximately 1,009 signatures against Trepkowski, 1,029 signatures against Jacobson, and 1,008 signatures against Gerstenberger. The county verified 886 of the signatures against Trepkowski, 860 against Gerstenberger, and 897 against Jacobson, which was enough to put all three recalls on the ballot. Candidates had until May 8, 2023, to file to run against the board members in the recall elections.

So far in 2023, Ballotpedia has tracked 43 school board recall efforts against 83 board members. Efforts against 16 officials made the ballot. Six school board members were removed from office in recall elections, and three members defeated their recalls and retained office. The recall elections against the other seven officials have not yet been held.

As of October 26, 2023, Ballotpedia had tracked a total of 248 recall efforts against 360 officials across all office types. As of that time, 36 of the officials targeted for recall had been removed from office in a recall election, a success rate of 10%.

Additional reading:

School board recalls

Upcoming recall elections

Political recall efforts