Election panel rejects recall petitions
■ Petitions targeted Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon and County Commissioner Leah Gunn.
By CHONG W. PYEN and MICHELE MORIN
NEWS STAFF REPORTERS ___________
Two separate petitions seeking to recall Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon and Washtenaw County Commissioner Leah Gunn were rejected by the county Election Commission Monday for unclear wording.
Scott Severance, a local businessman, was the petitioner to recall Sheldon, Republican mayor since 1993. His charges included: neglect of civil duty, lack of general concern for the rights of the youth and poor citizens, police brutality, harassment and “authoritative abuse within Ann Arbor.”
Gunn, a first-term Democrat from District 12, is targeted for recall for her support a homeless shelter to be built in her district on Ellsworth Road. It was the second recall petition against her to be turned down by the commission.
Attorney Jerold Lax, who represented both Sheldon and Gunn, said both petitions lacked clarity as to who are initiating a recall for what specific reasons.
'We are not engaged in playing the games, but the petition language is unclear,” said Lax, a former city attorney.
The election commission, composed of Probate Judge John Kirkendall, Treasurer Catherine McClary and Peggy Haines, clerk-register of deeds, agreed with Lax aid voted to reject both petitions.
Dorothy Walker, who represented the Gnn recall sponsors, and Severance said they will submit revised petitions.
“I am disappointed at the elders of the community,” said Severance, 29. “I am shocked. I am appalled. I am definitely not going to go away.”
After the meeting, Severance said he previously owned businesses in the city, including the Condom 101 store, Salad Days and Not Another Cafe, and is now working on other projects. He said he was recently arrested following an argument with a security guard at the Briarwood mall and mistreat by police, which triggered his recall drive against the mayor for not listening to his complaints.
He also said he personally experienced polices harassment and was arrested six times this summer. The charges include trespassing and disturbing the peace.
Sheldon called the recall effort a manifestation of Severance’s frustration with those court case. "He has asked me to intervene on his behalf on some issues that are now in front of the courts and need to be settled there,” she said. She suspects that is why she was targeted for the recall.
“I do not think I’m ignoring those issues,” Sheldon said of the police concerns of Ann Arbor’s youth and poor.
Gunn’s opponents are angry at her for her vote earlier this year in favor of a $3.1 million, 125-bed shelter for the homeless on county property at the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Stone School roads.
Without her vote, the shelter project would have failed.
Upon approval of the text, petition sponsors must obtain signatures by at least 20 percent of the votes cast in the previous governor’s election within the city or District 12 to place the recall question on the ballot.