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December 13, 2012

Voters will choose Troy mayor in May, says judge

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

A judge has ruled that Troy must hold a special mayoral election, but gave the city until May to do so instead of February, as the state had originally demanded.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris stated in her ruling Dec. 12 that “The court finds that fairness in the election process mandates that timely notice be rendered. ... Therefore, the court finds that the next regular election date is in May. Further, it is the order of the court that the parties meet and prepare a new timeline in accordance with this court’s order within five business days from today.”

“Democracy and the voters in Troy are the real winners today,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson stated in a Dec. 12 press release. “Voters are the ones who will be choosing the city's next mayor. From the start, we've said that state law requires the election and now a judge has agreed. We now will work with city and county leaders to ensure the May election occurs in accordance with the judge's ruling. I thank the Attorney General's Office for representing my office in this case.”

“Clarity has been provided,” Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm said. “Now prospective and viable candidates will have the ability to consider running. It’s not limited to two persons.”

Bluhm said the city submitted the time frame to the attorney general’s office Dec. 12 and are awaiting approval of dates. She said the deadline for candidates to file would likely be at the end of January. “Preparing for a May election will allow us to comply with (city) charter provisions,” she added.  “We felt pretty strongly that we would try to uphold the charter provisions. The court’s resolution facilitates that.”

Resident Dan Brake and Planning Commissioner Ed Kempen attempted to file to run for mayor in a February special election earlier this month and were turned away from the City Clerk’s Office.

Kempen said he still planned to run for mayor. “I’m still looking forward to it,” she said. Brake could not be reached for comment.

Mayor Dane Slater resigned his seat on the City Council at the Nov. 26 council meeting just before the council appointed him mayor in a 4-to-2 vote, saying he believed the city attorney could defend the city’s position of waiting until November to hold the election to fill the mayoral seat vacated by Janice Daniels after voters recalled her this past November.

The estimated cost of a special election is $50,000. 

Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette filed suit against the city Nov. 30, asking a judge to issue an injunction forcing the city to hold the special election in February and to accept the applications from Kempen and Brake.

On Nov. 16, state director of elections Christopher Thomas sent a letter to Bluhm stating that mayoral seat should be filled by a special election Feb. 26.

Slater will not return to his seat on the City Council due to his resignation and said he would not run for mayor in May.

“I think the judge hoped for a resolution from all parties,” Slater said. “It’s a compromise.”

He said he didn’t regret his decision to resign his council seat for the mayoral office. “I still support the city attorney and the process. It’s time for the city to heal and move on.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.