Dorr Township recall petitions filed for May vote
By Ryan Lewis
A Dorr group has turned in petitions to recall all seven members of the Dorr Township board for violating the Open Meetings Act.
If valid, the petitions would be enough to place the recalls on the ballot at the May 4 election.
Turned in Monday, Jan. 25, petitions for each board member contain more than 900 signatures, according to the Dorr resident who filed for the recall petitions, Patty Senneker. Each petition needed a minimum of 793 signatures.
There were 5,249 registered voters in Dorr Township as of Sept. 8, 2009.
Senneker said she and 10 other members of the group Restoring Ethics And Democracy worked for months to first get the recall petition language approved and then disseminate the petitions in the community.
“Bob (her husband) and I spent endless hours on the weekends on this,” Senneker said.
The county clerk’s office has seven days to prepare a preliminary review of the petitions. The office has 22 days from Jan. 25 to verify that the signatures belong to registered Dorr Township voters. It has 35 days after Jan. 25 to determine whether or not there are sufficient signatures to place the recall on the ballot.
Board members facing recall have 30 days from Jan. 25 to challenge any signature, which forces the county to re-verify its validity.
Senneker said she believes every signature they turned in will be ruled valid, because READ members have already compared them to a copy of the qualified voter file they requested two months ago.
The recall petition language, identical for each board member, reads, “Violated the Open Meetings Act on Thursday April 16, 2009, June 4th & 18th 2009, July 2nd 2009 & August 6th & 20th, 2009 and September 3rd 2009, by assembling privately as a quorum with other Township Board members, immediately prior to regular Dorr Township Board Meetings.”
The Open Meetings Act specifies that for a quorum—usually the majority—of a publicly elected board to meet, that meeting must be publicly announced at least 18 hours prior and be located in a place accessible to the public.
Township supervisor Tammy VanHaitsma did not return a call for comment.
Contact Ryan Lewis at email@example.com or (269) 673-5534.