By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – Third time’s the charm … at least in the eyes of those wishing to remove Taylor Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand from office.
Less than halfway through his first four-year term, Lamarand faces yet another attempt at recall. This time, it appears that the question will be put before voters in November.
Last week, more than 5,300 petition signatures were submitted to the Wayne County Clerk’s director of elections, Delphine G. Oden. If at least 4,800 of those signatures are confirmed, the question will be put to voters during the Nov. 8 general election. Signatures representing 25 percent of the number of city voters who participated in the most recent state election must be verified for a recall question to be put before voters.
For the latest attempt to unseat Lamarand, recall language was approved on May 11 by the Wayne County Election Commission. As submitted by Taylor resident and city employee Charles Johnson, the approved language cited a variety of motivations to oust Lamarand — that the city is in “financial crisis,” that government is not as transparent as promised, and other non-specified allegations.
Of principal concern, Johnson cited the April layoffs of Taylor police officers.
“The final straw was the termination of nine of our police officers,” Johnson said. “Terminated, fired or laid off, the bottom line is we have nine fewer police officers patrolling our streets.”
The police officers were among many public safety and city employees laid off as a July deadline approached for a balanced budget. Since then, many have been brought back to work, including eight of the nine police officers; one had accepted another position elsewhere.
“Taylor’s financial woes are 30 years in the making,” Lamarand said in a statement at the time. They want to take back Taylor and put it into the hands of those that have been robbing it blind for 30 years.”
Last year, a recall campaign was launched to remove from office Lamarand and six members of the city council. That effort stalled when organizers failed to collect enough signatures to place the question on a ballot. A renewed effort earlier this year was initially rejected before the rewritten petition was approved in May.
Lamarand said he received notice Wednesday of the petition, which was delivered to Wayne County officials Tuesday. The signatures are expected to be received this week by Taylor City Clerk Mary Ann Rilley for verification. Lamarand will have 30 days to challenge the petition.
Lamarand said that the recall attempt was simply the latest in a series of city hall battles, a recent history of frayed nerves, limited budgets and political alliances.
“The city council would not work with me on any issues,” he said. “They fought me on the budget. It’s political payback.”
If the signatures result in sending voters to the polls for a recall vote, Lamarand said the city then faces another problem.
“Now we have to figure out how to pay for an election in November,” he said. “We didn’t have one scheduled, so now we have to foot the bill.”
A special election, he said, would cost Taylor $34,000.
“If they’re successful, there’s another $34,000 for a special election in February,” Lamarand said. “That potentially means the loss of another employee.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected]