By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — The question that has loomed over Taylor’s politics and policies for months was resoundingly answered Tuesday: Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand will continue to serve the office he was elected to in 2009.
In spite of a short ballot — only the selection of two school board trustees required voter input — 22 percent of Taylor’s registered voters participated Tuesday. A strong majority of 5,759 (59 percent)voters said “no” to recalling Lamarand, against 3,893 votes seeking his removal from office.
“I think it speaks volumes about what the people are tired of,” Lamarand said of the results. “They recognized we’re trying to break down some of the old cronyism. There was no justification for the recall based on the language.”
The campaign against Lamarand began shortly after he defeated Cameron Priebe, who served nearly 20 years as mayor. An attempted recall campaign against Lamarand in 2010 failed to gain ballot placement, and organizers tried again this year in the wake of city employee layoffs in April. Public safety personnel were among those let go when the administration was forced to make cuts to balance the budget. Most of the laid off police officers have since returned to duty, but petition organizers under the name “Take Back Taylor” argued that Lamarand was against public safety.
As the only other issue on the ballot was a school election, the city of Taylor was responsible for the cost of this year’s balloting, estimated at about $42,000.
In the months since the recall campaign reached full steam, the city council has often acted as if in “lame duck” mode, with a stalemate symbolized at the Nov. 1 meeting, during which the panel failed to approve the minutes from the previous meeting. Other administrative tasks, including replacing Treasurer Wayne Avery who resigned in June, have likewise stalled.
Negotiations with labor unions have also proven unsuccessful, and Lamarand said that a “waiting game” was played that must now give way to progress.
“We had union representatives tell us they wouldn’t negotiate until after the election,” Lamarand said. “That time has come and gone. They have to come back to the table and negotiate, we’re going to get back to work.”
The other side of the ballot featured two Board of Education seats to be filled, with newcomers Bobby Masters (3,482 votes) and Ron Miller (2,950) edging out incumbent James Lakatos and challengers Lisa Norris (2,779), Craig Raich(2,035) and Todd Tumas (906). Trustee Richard Dodge did not seek re-election.