School Board Recall Petition Approved
Cost to School Would be Above $30K
By William R. Dixon & Wm. Michael Dixon
Tribune Recorder Leader
Three petitions to recall three Sandusky School Board members, filed by Rick Spiegel, had their language approved last Friday by the Sanilac Election Commission. The Sanilac Election Commission is comprised of Sanilac County District Court Judge Gregory Ross, Sanilac County Clerk Leslie Hilgendorf, and Sanilac County Treasurer Trudy Bowers. All three members voted to approve the language of the petitions.
Daniel Gerstenberger, School Board President Jason Trepkowski, and Jane Jacobson are the School Board members named in the petitions.
The petition asserts that each of these school board members failed to listen to the will of the public.
Each of the three board members had a person in attendance to protest the language. Daniel Gerstenberger was one of those who took exception to the language used in the petitions, claiming that it constituted an opinion. The Election Commission agreed that it was “somewhat” of an opinion, but stated the language was clear enough that the officer could defend themselves. The school board members in question have 10 days from last Friday’s decision to appeal the petitions.
According to Michigan Public Act 278 of 2022, the petitions will each require 25% of the number of votes cast for candidates for the office of governor at the last preceding general election in the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled.
The Sandusky School District covers thirteen separate jurisdiction including the City of Sandusky and 12 townships: Argyle, Bridgehampton, Buel, Custer, Flynn, Elk, Elmer, Lamotte, Moore, Washington, Watertown, and Wheatland.
County Clerk Leslie Hilgendorf estimated the cost of the election to be roughly $29,588.50, but acknowledged that the cost could be higher depending on how the new election law passed in November was implemented.
Michigan law MCL 168.315 dictates that in any special school election, the district is responsible for 100% of the costs of the election, meaning Sandusky Schools could be stuck paying for the recall, if enough signatures are collected.
An estimated 749 signatures must be collected and verified. The signatures must be collected within a 180 day period following the conclusion of any appeals, and signatures are only valid for 60 days after being collected.
As of press-time the school board members were undecided if they would pursue an appeal of the petition language to the Circuit Court.
The signature filing deadline for a May Election would is January 27th so the recall election, if the petition was successful, would likely be held in November 2023.