Question of special county election raised

Plymouth Township Attorney and Wayne County Commissioner Joe Barone


Apr. 19, 2015  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

Plymouth Michigan News


Don Howard

Staff Writer



The recent appointment of Wayne County Commissioner Shannon Price as the new Plymouth Township supervisor is causing concern among some Republican Party members who say that his county job may have to be filled with a costly special election. According to the Wayne County Charter…” If a vacancy occurs in the office of a Commissioner, the vacancy shall be filled by appointment within 30 days with an appointee belonging to the same political party as the previous Commissioner.”

However, Township Precinct Delegate and member of the Wayne County Republican Committee Richard Sharland discovered that the county charter also dictates that if a vacancy occurs on the county commission and is filled in an odd-numbered year, the appointee will only serve until a successor is elected in special election. (Wayne County Charter Section 3.112 c.) There were revisions to the Michigan Election Law in August of 2013 that invalidates that section, according to Canton Township Clerk Terry Bennett.

Price’s letter of resignation was received by the Wayne County Commission office Monday afternoon, according to a commission spokesman. Price said that he began his first day as Plymouth Township supervisor the same day, after being sworn in by Township Clerk Nancy Conzelman during a private ceremony with his family present.

Sharland, however, was less than enthusiastic about Price’s appointment.

“Price was only 100 days into his second term and now we’re faced with the expense of a special election,” said Sharland, who is convinced the county charter provisions require a special election. “Something the township board said when they selected Price over other candidates was that they didn’t want was to have the taxpayers foot the bill for an election, and now we find out we’re faced with this.”

Wayne County has an expiring parks millage and could call a special election in an effort to renew the levy in August or November, explained Bennett, and include the commission seat on that ballot. In Canton, a special election costs about $44,000, she said.

James Toth, director of public information for the Wayne County Commission, said that a special election would not be required.

“The charter allows the commission to fill the vacancy within 30 days and requires the appointment to be of the same political party as the departing commissioner. The charter also calls for a special election if the appointment is made with more than one year left in the term, but state law (Public Act 84 of 2013) rendered that portion moot, so the appointee will serve the remainder of the term,” Toth said. He also included the Michigan Public Acts Table of the amended state election laws from 2013 which says that the odd numbered year special election requirement is eliminated unless the vacancy is not filled by appointment.

“I think the confusion regarding PA 84 of 2013 is that it amended County Commissions PA 261 of 1966 in chapter 46. Wayne County is organized under PA 293 of 1966, the Charter County Enabling Act,” Sharland said.

Price was recommended for the position of supervisor by a political action committee or PAC, according to Sharland. The group, called the Wayne 11th Congressional District Committee, may recommend a candidate or endorse their choice to fill a vacancy, as occurred with Price, but they are not empowered to make the final selection of a candidate recommendation, Sharland contends.

“That is a job for the Wayne County Republican Committee,” he added.

The Wayne 11th Congressional District Republican Committee Chairman Carl Berry has reportedly already recommended local Plymouth attorney Joe Barone for the appointment to fill the remainder of Price’s 2-year term. That may or may not be the recommendation of the state Republican Party, however, as the official state Republican Party Committee website lists Dillon Breen as the Wayne County chairman. Berry is not listed among the official district committee members. These are two separate Republican entities, Sharland said.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act 388 of 1976, 169.211, Sec. 11,

Part 6, “There shall not be more than 1 (one) officially designated political party committee per county and per congressional district.”

Sharland has suggested the official recommendation of the party could differ from that submitted by Berry.

Paul Garon, a Republican Party precinct delegate, agrees with Sharland regarding the appointment of Price requiring a special election in both Plymouths and Canton Township to fill his commission seat.

Garon said he is worried that the party will lose one of the only two seats it currently holds on the 15-member Wayne County Commission.

“They’re (the 11th District committee) throwing us under the bus. I feel betrayed.” Garon said.

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