Deadlocked board fails to reach clerk’s appointment consensus

Supervisor admits decision may end up in the hands of voters

DAVISON TWP. — It only took the board of trustees a few minutes Monday night to decide discussion would be a waste of time when it met for the second time to consider appointing one of two residents to serve as township clerk.

“Everybody is pretty stubborn up here on this board,” said Supervisor Jim Slezak after the four board members went around the table and stuck firmly to their candidates leaving them with a 2-2 impasse. “We should take time and discuss weigh pros and cons, maybe there’s something one of us missed or something will come to light.”

The board has until July 14 to appoint one of two residents – Travis Howell or Mo Aboneaaj – to the position that was vacated when Clerk Mary Miller decided to step down at the end of May after just six months in office.

If the board cannot make an appointment by July 14, the Genesee County Clerk’s office will step in and schedule an election for November.

But Howell and Aboneaaj won’t necessarily be the candidates because they will be selected by the Republican and Democratic parties of the county.

More residents spoke during the special meeting to offer endorsements of their preferred candidate and former Clerk Cindy Shields, who did not seek re-election last year, spoke on what the qualifications are for someone to be clerk.

Shields said based on Aboneaaj’s financial background, she thought he would make a good treasurer, but pointed out that Howell ran unsuccessfully for the clerk’s position, losing to Miller in the 2020 primary by just 11 votes.

“Howell…has been very clear in his pursuit of the clerk’s position,” said Shields. “To achieve that he served on several township boards, learning about the many different aspects of township government.”

Howell, who served previously as a trustee on the board, and served as a member of the Davison Fire Authority and the Davison Library Board, has many of the qualities Shields said all board members should possess regarding knowledge of the township.

She said the duties of clerk include: maintaining all township records, maintain general ledger, prepare warrants for township checks, record and maintain township meetings, keep the township book of oaths, be responsible for township meeting notices, keep the voter registration file and conduct elections, keep township ordinance books and prepare financial statements.

“It is in the township’s best interest for the board to come to a consensus tonight,” said Shields, further advocating the appointment of Howell.

Elba Township Treasurer Nate Eashoo, who is also a Davison Township business owner, spoke on behalf of Aboneaaj and praised him for being responsible for “millions of dollars” in ledgers as a branch manager for Dort Federal Credit Union in Lapeer.

“That alone gives him quite a bit of experience,” said Eashoo. “He’s a man of ethics, character and he’s very detail oriented. He would be your strongest and best bet.”

Both candidates also addressed the board, thanking the members for their consideration and thanking the public for their support.

Trustee Lori Tallman said there is still some time left for more discussion on the appointment and she said she weighed changing her vote or considering other options to avoid having the county step in, but said she’s accepted that may become necessary.

“I’ve struggled since the beginning with whether I’d be doing my job if I let it get that far, but I can tell you I’ve given that a lot of reflection…maybe this should be an election. Maybe that’s what should make this decision. I know there are people concerned about the cost of that, but I can rectify that in my mind because we’d save that much or more in a clerk’s salary between now and the time of the election, so that’s really not a factor for me at this point.”

Regardless, she said the township needs someone in the clerk’s office so it will not become a revolving door of clerk’s coming and going.

Trustee Matt Karr said he was also “sticking to his guns” in support of Howell, adding he hopes if the matter goes to a vote of the people the political parties will take the two candidates they are considering and put them on the ballot.

Slezak said he thinks residents would prefer the matter not be put to a vote and he said he hopes there is still a chance for the board to reach a consensus.

The board will meet again June 28 to approve the 2021-22 budget and he said there could be further conversation at that time.