ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – A group of Delta County citizens is continuing to push for the removal of three County Commissioners from office.
The Delta County Citizens for Ethical Leadership is working to recall Delta County Board of Commissioners members Bob Barron, Robert Petersen, and David Moyle for what they believe was the “unjustifiable” firing of Emily DeSalvo, former county administrator.
The commissioners have defended their decision. Petersen has given an example of why he chose to vote in favor of firing DeSalvo, saying she did not pay a $42,000 bill owed to the Soil and Conservation District during her time as administrator.
Monday Afternoon, the Delta County Election Commission approved the language of the recall petitions, which state that “on February 7, 2023,” each commissioner in question “voted to terminate administrator Emily DeSalvo’s employment contract.” The Election Commission determined the language is clearly stated and factual.
“I think the Election Commission made the right decision, based on the law that it needs to be factual,” said Delta County Citizens for Ethical Leadership member Stephen Benoit.
Each commissioner has ten days to file an appeal. The Circuit Court has 40 days to reject or accept each appeal.
Commissioner Moyle says he plans to appeal. He adds that business as usual will continue on the County Board in the meantime.
“This is a public decision,” said Moyle. “I treat the public the same way I always have and I do my job the same way I always have, so for me, it’s business as usual. If the public accepts this, then I will leave graciously. I’m assuming the pubic won’t, but the public giveth and the public taketh away, so it’s not for me to say.”
Not all Delta County residents at Monday’s hearing support the recall effort, including Bonnie Hakkola of Escanaba.
“I stand behind all of our commissioners,” she said. “I think they’re doing a very good job, and I think they’re being unfairly charged with something that is their job to do. To hire and fire an administrator, that is their job.”
According to Delta County Clerk Nancy Przewrocki, the Citizens for Ethical Leadership will have 180 days to collect signatures after appeals are rejected or accepted. However, they must collect the required amount from each district by August 4 to get the recall on the ballot in November.
“They have a very short window to get on the November ballot,” said Przewrocki. “As long as they have enough signatures, they only need to collect them once, so it would automatically go on the next ballot–either November or May.”
Citizens for Ethical Leadership social media director Christiana Reynolds told WZMQ 19 News District #4 needs 666 signatures, District #3 needs 1,001 signatures, and District #5 needs approximately 775 signatures.
One member of the Citizens for Ethical Leadership not participating in the recall petitions is Kelli Van Ginhoven, who ran against Moyle last November.
“Once it is placed on the November ballot, then candidates can come forth to run against the incumbents, who are all running as Republicans,” said Van Ginhoven, who also co-founded the Citizens for Ethical Leadership Facebook group. “Therefore, we need to have Democrats or what we call ‘no affiliation’ political candidates.”
If the recall is on the ballot, Van Ginhoven will once again run as a no affiliation candidate for the four-year term.
“I run no party affiliation because I truly and honestly believe that county politics should be non-partisan,” she said.
Now, other Citizens for Ethical Leadership are preparing to collect signatures.
“We’re ready to go right now to get out on the streets and boots to the ground and get signatures at this time,” Benoit said. “We’ve already had a great turnout of people saying that they’re ready to sign for a recall.”
Moyle believes the recall effort is “unnecessary,” but he says the group has a legal right to do it.
“Democracy doesn’t end when people agree; it begins when people disagree,” Moyle said. “As much as I don’t like this, it’s a part of the democratic situation, a part of our government, and I think it’s evidence that all politics is local. I don’t have to like something to respect it.”
Click here for more background information on the recall petitions.