UNOFFICIAL results show Democrats oust Saugatuck Township GOP in recall
By Scott Sullivan, Editor and
Ryan Lewis, Staff Writer
Democrats unseated all four GOP incumbents in the recall election for four Saugatuck Township board terms, according to unofficial tallies well after polls closed Nov. 6.
By midnight, independent elections public officer Pat Phenix was able to announce the numbers:
For clerk, Bill Wester won with 1,113 votes to Brad Rudich’s 817.
For treasurer, Jon Helmrich won with 1,061 to Lori Babinski’s 875.
For one trustee seat, Abby Bigford won with 1,105 to Roy McIlwaine’s 815. For the other trustee seat, Stacey Aldrich won with 1,174 to Doug Lane’s 750.
Results were not available before The Commercial Record’s print deadline for the Nov. 8 issue.
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.
They modified the fifth one to call for the 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. 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.