CADILLAC — The first hurdle in the attempt to recall Cedar Creek Township Treasurer Mary Hallett tripped up those who would like to see her removed from office.
But they’re already trying again.
On Friday, the Wexford County Election Commission found that the language in a petition intended to initiate recall proceedings against Hallett was unclear. The commission rejected the petition’s language.
By the late afternoon, a new version of the petition had already been re-submitted.
The original language read: “Treasurer Hallett voted to increase her own salary and further enrich herself and family members using township funds but voted against consulting an attorney regarding landfill issues, failed to execute Board instructions regarding legal consultation, misled the Board regarding legal advice, and refused to support a motion to hire an attorney to draft protective ordinances.‘
During deliberation, Judge Edward Van Alst said it wasn’t clear from the language whether Hallett was accused of enriching herself and family members from the salary increase.
The hearing, deemed a “clarity/factual hearing,‘ confused some people in attendance, who said they thought there would be an opportunity to present evidence to prove the facts.
But the commission said that wasn’t the case.
“This is not an opportunity to prove your allegations,‘ Van Alst said.
Hallett had attempted to dispute the allegations, while Nancy Scungio, who filed the petition against Hallett, attempted to argue that they were true.
Larry Rogers, the Cedar Creek Township supervisor, also disputes some of the allegations against Hallett, saying the petition is misleading and twists the facts.
Both Van Alst and Wexford County Clerk Elaine Richardson, who also serves on the three-person commission, declined to comment on the distinction between factual and truthful, although Richardson did say that the state’s requirements for recall petitions changed a few years ago.
After the hearing, Scungio said she intended to re-file the petition. John Fuscone, a Cedar Creek Township resident and former member of the township board, said it would be simple to remove the language the commisison said was unclear.
The new version of the petition will have to face another hearing to review its language for clarity. The petition can only be circulated if the county’s election commission approves the petition language. If the new language is approved, there is a short window for the petition circulators to get enough signatures to put the recall on the November ballot. Signatures will have to be submitted by Aug. 3, Richardson said.