Recall petition language approved

Citizen group hopes to unseat 2 Swartz Creek School Board members

ALL AREAS — The three-member Election Commission has approved petition language in a recall effort against Swartz Creek Community Schools Board of Education Vice President Brian Sepanak and Secretary Stacey Glynn.

Neither Sepanak nor Glynn had decided whether they would appeal the commission’s ruling.

The citizen organization now must collect about 2,359 signatures from registered voters within the school district, which includes the city of Swartz Creek plus parts of Argentine, Clayton, Flint, Gaines and Mundy townships.

The group has 60 days from the date of the first signature to submit the documents to the county clerk.

Karen Green, who submitted the petition language and has spearheaded the recall campaign, said citizens are hoping to get the issue on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Voters in the Swartz Creek school district will not be asked to remove Sepanak and Glynn from the school board. Rather, the board members will be forced to run to retain their posts.

Green said the citizen group mounting the recall has identified at least three potential candidates to challenge Sepanak and Glynn.

Green said she is “very glad” the commission approved the petition language and she’s ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Green said. “We are determined to do what is right for our schools and our kids.”

The petitions state that the two board members voted in favor of the district’s investment of $99,500 in an automated bus wash.

Sepanak and Glynn were two of five school board members to vote to buy the device.

Two others — President Carrie Germain and Treasurer Brian Mitchell — are in the final years of their terms on the board of education, so they may not be recalled.

The other, Michael Ahearne, was not named in the recall in order to expedite the process, Green has said.

The Election Commission – including Probate Judge Jenny E. Barkey, county Treasurer Deb Cherry and Clerk John Gleason – voted 2-1 that the language is clear and accurate.

Gleason cast the dissenting vote, stating that the wording was not clear because the school district – not the board of education – purchased the bus wash.

“I think these individuals have been singled out,” Gleason said. “Five people voted (to approve the bus wash purchase). This is a clash of individuals. Five voted and you singled out two.”

Barkey responded, “Welcome, Mr. Gleason, to adulthood. We promised to comply law. We don’t always agree with the law, but we promised to comply with it. Politics and personalities … the law makes it clear that we can’t get into it.”

“The law says we are to determine if (the language) is factual and clear, and it is,” added Cherry.”

Both Glynn and Sepanak said they felt the petition language was not clear. Sepanak called the wording “insufficient, ambiguous, vague and incomplete.”

Barkey disagreed.

“There was a meeting, you voted yes … what is not clear?” she asked.

“It’s out of context,” Sepanak said, adding that voters may not know the rest of the story regarding the investment, particularly that district officials expect to make money by charging other districts for bus washing services.

Sepanak said he believes the recall is “costly and foolish.”

“Five people voted for that (bus wash),” he said. “I would vote for it again. It has definite costs benefits to the district.”

Glynn said she plans to move forward “to do the job I was elected to do and focus on the children of this district.”

She said she does not intend to comment on the recall any further.

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