By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — Under ordinary circumstances, Tuesday’s general election might generate limited interest. The ballot includes six choices for two board of education seats, but no tax or policy issue which often drives voter turnout.
Circumstances haven’t been ordinary for some time in Taylor, and whether or not Jeffrey Lamarand continues as the city’s mayor depends upon whether supporters or critics of a mayoral recall attempt can drive residents to the polls. Under the heading “City of Taylor Recall,” the ballot presents a question awaiting a “yes” or “no” vote: “Shall Jeffrey Lamarand be recalled from the Office of Mayor?”
Both recall proponents and Lamarand supporters have said that bringing bodies to the polls is the priority. A certain number of “yes” votes is anticipated, as a group collectively billed as “Take Back Taylor” generated more than 4,200 certified petition signatures to place the question on the ballot. In September Lamarand challenged the signatures — both for validity and the process by which they were collected — but Wayne County Elections officials approved more than enough qualified names.
This is the second recall effort Lamarand faced since taking office in 2009, but the first to be put before voters. Organizers said that petition efforts succeeded this time in the wake of April layoffs from the city’s police and fire departments. Officers have since returned to duty, but the recall effort sustained its momentum. Lawn signs, pickets outside city council meetings and Internet postings indicated a fair number of citizens ready to oust a mayor. Online, www.takebacktaylor.net states the group’s case against, “a man struggling to hold on to the most lucrative job he has ever had,” in reference to campaign literature is sued by Lamarand supporters.
Since the question was approved for Tuesday’s ballot, a growing number of signs, booster meetings and counter-recall web postings indicate support for Lamarand. Under names including Taxpayers First and web sites such as www.TaylorTruth.com, some are trying to rally voters to the polls.
For the school board, the four-year terms are expiring of Trustees James C. Lakatos and Richard Dodge. Taylor school board members are selected in staggered years: Current board President John Reilly and Treasurer Deborah Stellini were elected in 2008; Vice President Mary Moore and Secretary Linda Newsome in 2009. Following each election, officers are selected from among the board.
Six candidates are vying for the two seats: Lakatos is running for re-election, while Dodge is not seeking a second term after joining the board in 2007.
Challengers vying to take a seat along with Lakatos, a former board president, are: Robert Masters, a Lincoln Park teacher and coach; Ron Miller, a retired Taylor Schools mechanic; Lisa Norris, a nurse; Craig Raich, a pubilc safety officer at the University of Michigan Medical Center; and Todd Tumas, who reportedly declined running a campaign.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)