By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand has until Thursday to challenge the validity of recall petition signatures as verified by city and county officials. Barring a successful challenge, voters will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 8 whether to remove Lamarand from office.
Wayne County Elections officials confirmed Thursday that 4,352 names were certified by Taylor City Clerk Mary Ann Rilley. Petition organizers needed signatures from 25 percent of the total voters in the most recent gubernatorial election; the goal of 3,827 was easily met by petitioner Charles Johnson and a group billing itself as Take Back Taylor.
Rilley said she returned the petitions to county officials by the Wednesday deadline after reviewing each of the names against voter registrations.
If Lamarand is unable to successfully challenge enough signatures to render the petition invalid, county officials will certify the signatures Sept. 6, and the question to recall the mayor will be on the November ballot.
The recall effort is the second made against Lamarand since taking office in 2009. Last year an effort was launched to recall Lamarand and six of the seven members of the city council, but fell short of the signature goal. Language for the pending recall attempt was approved on May 11 by the Wayne County Election Commission. Organizers cited the city’s current financial crisis and the April layoffs of police officers as the principal reasons for removing Lamarand from office.
Nine police officerswere among dozens of city employees laid off in April; eight of the nine returned to work since, and the other accepted another position prior to the call back.
Budget restrictions resulted in numerous layoffs and reductions in city services. The Fire Department’s roster is down to 38 from the 59 staffers on call a few months ago.
The City of Taylor does not currently have any elected offices or millage questions pending, and special elections will be necessary — reportedly costing the city $34,000 each — for the recall question and, if successful, to replace Lamarand as mayor.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])