DAVISON — Members of the Genesee County Election Commission were to meet Sept. 1, in the courtroom of Judge Jennie Barkey to determine if recall language filed against Matthew Smith is of a clear and factual nature. Details of that meeting were not available at press time.
Resident Jenessa Phillips of Davison Township filed recall language Aug. 20 to allow voters to remove the first-term Davison Board of Education member from his seat after misdemeanor charges were brought against him for alleged telephone threats the clerk of Houghton County in the Upper Peninsula claim he made against her in March of 2020.
The language says the reason for the proposed recall election is a “pending misdemeanor charge (malicious use of phone). Numerous potential violations of school board bylaws including PO0167.6 use of social media to conduct school board business; PO144.2 representing views of the board, disclosing board information in advance to “break news”, using board position for personal gain, specifically social media, to advance his/her office; PO0145 discriminatory harassment – criminal charges and bullying parents on social media.”
Smith has been charged with one count of malicious use of telecommunication services. His pre-trial was held Aug. 9 and he pled not guilty before Judge William H. Crawford in 67th District Court.
A jury trial has been scheduled for Sept. 16 at 8:30 a.m.
The charge came following months of investigation, most recently by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, where the case landed after being passed along by the Genesee County prosecutor, who recused himself, and the State Attorney General’s office.
The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
When contacted for a statement, Smith responded by calling the recall effort a political act in response to his recent appearance at an anti-masking event in Flint held by the Genesee County Republican Party.
He said the recall is also meant to silence him and to prevent transparency on the Davison school board.
“It is interesting that less than 48 hours after I spoke at a peaceful protest with 500 parents regarding the mask mandate for K-6, a recall petition was filed with Genesee County’s Clerk’s office,” said Smith. “In America, we all have a guarantee to exercise our Freedom of Speech. I have exercised mine as an individual elected official on the Davison School Board and have done what I believe is best for each child in Davison’s Schools, including using social media to be transparent and keep parents informed about public information at board meetings.”
He added his thinks the reason presented in the recall language “seem to lack credibility” and he said further he believes they are politically motivated.
“Those filing the recall are exercising their freedom of speech in disagreeing with my positions,” said Smith. “As it relates to the pending litigation, American citizens are to be considered innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. So far, I have not had my day in court; my case has not been heard; and I have not been convicted of any crime.”
Smith went on to say the voters of Davison have been exceedingly supportive of his leadership and said the recall effort is an attempt by “the good ol’ boys to cancel me.”