By Scott Sullivan
The good news for democracy is voters turned out in large numbers for Tuesday’s midterm elections.
That bad news for this week’s print edition is a new method of tallying absentee ballots, supposedly more accurate but slower to process than in past years, pushed Saugatuck Township’s board recall tally, along with other results, past our print deadline.
Township races saw incumbent clerk Brad Rudich, treasurer Lori Babinski and trustees Roy McIlwaine and Doug Lane challenged by Democrats Bill Wester, Jon Helmrich, Stacey Aldrich and Abby Bigford, respectively.
Township residents Kathy Sturm and Cindy Osman last November petitioned Allegan County to call a recall election of the four sitting members based on five grievances, most related to the board’s 3-2 vote Aug. 2, 2017, to amend the International Fire Code.
Township officials — citing some area builders’ complaints that fire district leaders’ IFC interpretation and enforcement were over-reaching —for months tried but failed to negotiate an agreement with Saugatuck Township Fire District officials about the changes.
Douglas and Saugatuck city district representatives also opposed the measure.
Rudich, Lane and Babinski voted for the August 2017 measure. McIlwaine and then-supervisor Jon Phillips were opposed. McIlwaine later joined the majority voting to update 2012 IFC to the 2015 version while retaining the amendments.
Sturm and Osman dropped four of their initial complaints, based on county election commission concerns that their language lacked factuality and clarity.
The modified the fifth one to call for officials’ ousters because they had voted to reprimand township manager Aaron Sheridan. It was accepted by the commission.
The township board voted 4-1 Aug. 16, 2017, to reprimand Sheridan for insubordination and require him to see anger-management counseling at his own expense after a profane exchange between him and Phillips hours before the vote hours earlier. Phillips’ motion to terminate Sheridan died that night as it lacked a second.
Some recall backers also cited the board’s handling of North-Shores of Saugatuck’s building proposals, the non-motorized Blue Star Trail and/or declining to video board meetings among their grievances.
Republican supervisor Chris Roerig, appointed to replace Phillips after the latter moved out of the district this spring, ran Tuesday unopposed.
All winners will serve the balance of what are normally four-year township terms through November 2020.
For other election results of local interest, look online or stayed tuned to summary on our pages next week.