Howell – A second attempt by parents from Brighton to get approval for petitions to recall two school board members failed on Friday, but she said she would try again.
Brighton High School father Sarah Cross has filed a motion for revocation against Brighton School District Trustee John Connelly for remarks he made in an email comparing mask mandates to the Nazi Hilter regime.
Cross filed a motion to recall Bill Trombley’s attorney for failing to read a school board package before a public meeting.
For the second time, the Livingston County Election Commission on Friday rejected how her recall petitions were worded.
A three-member commission comprising County Betsy Clerk, County Treasurer Jennifer Nash and Will Judge Miriam Cavanaugh rejected both motions, but Cavanaugh voted unanimously in favor of Connelly’s petition. The rejection at Tromble was unanimous.
Cross said the motion against Connelly was rejected “incorrectly” and she plans to appeal the commission’s decision to Livingston County District Court.
She also said she plans to immediately reconsider and re-file her petition against Trombley, which was rejected due to a date error.
She originally filed a petition against the trustees in January, that the commission unanimously rejected in February. Initial motions included additional charges, which she reduced for her second submission. She simplified the language to one sentence.
Connelly’s petition was rejected by a 2-1 vote
For Connelly there was this language: “12/03/2021 Mr. Connelly sent this letter:“ You mean like Hitler? Mandates, we have no laws to support them. We are not socialists. “
Cavanaugh voted to accept the petition against Connelly. Handley and Nash voted for his rejection, saying the statement lacked clarity and provided no context for the email.
In Cross’s original language, a January petition said Connelly’s email was a response from a community member who supported camouflage in schools. She abbreviated this information.
“Some members of the public may interpret it as an unsolicited letter rather than a response to an email,” Handley said, adding that the wording “allows for a broad explanation and different interpretations among members of the public.”
Nash said the lack of context “opens the door to quite a bit of speculation,” but Cavanaugh said she thinks “the language is simple and clear.”
Cross argued that her language was enough.
“It was in response to an email he received, but I would argue that the context of this should be decided by the electorate,” she said. “I can’t translate a multi-page email into the language of a recall petition, and some people would say that as a (government official) there is no context in which this would be acceptable, and I think that’s why it’s legally enough. “
Connelly spoke about his contribution to the community over the past few decades.
“If we say that’s enough when it comes to protecting people who have done their job,” he said.
Attorney Dale Schaller said the language was vague and did not provide enough context for voters or grounds for recall.
He said Connelly was exercising his right to free speech and referred to “abolishing culture”.
“Honestly, this recall attempt is an attempt to abuse the recall process by people with such hypersensitivity,” he said. “These constant attempts to recall Mr. Connelly are, frankly, the abolition of culture from Livingston County.”
Cross expressed an additional complaint from his original language of the petition, which also said Connelly presented a slide show against masks that contained misinformation from an outside group he did not identify.
A Trombley review detects a typo
All three commissioners voted to reject the petition against Trombley due to an error in which the wrong date was indicated.
For Trombley, the language was: “At a council meeting on September 27, 2020, Mr. Trombley stated that he had not read the council’s package.”
These meetings actually took place on September 27, 2021. In addition, complaints should be from the current term of office of the elected official.
Cross said she would correct the mistake and overwhelm the language of the petition.
She cut out two additional complaints from her original language of petitions against Trombley. The petition also included allegations that he intentionally coughed at one of the audience members who spoke about COVID’s safety, and accused three school board members of deliberately concealing policy changes.
If the language of the petition is finally approved, Cross will need at least 5,472 valid signatures under each petition to postpone the recall election until the November vote.
Connelly and Trombley are serving a four-year term ending December 31, 2024.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timor at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.