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Third attempt at Alma recall petition approved by county board

Brett Dahlberg
Recall petitions are targeting Alma city commissioners who voted to allow the now-vacant Warwick Living Center nursing home to be converted into a shelter for young refugees.

The most recent in a series of recall petitions filed against Alma city commissioners who voted to allow a youth refugee shelter in the city earlier this year have cleared their first hurdle.

On Wednesday, the Gratiot County elections board ruled that the petition’s wording met the state’s standard for “factual” language.

Two previous attempts at recalling the commissioners failed when a court and the elections board ruled they fell short of the state requirement.

This time, Chuck Murphy, the chair of both the Gratiot County Board of Commissioners and the local Republican party, said he was confident the language would pass the test.

The petitions name the city commissioners -- Roxann Harrington, Nick Piccolo and Audra Stahl -- and the measure they voted to approve.

“Basically, it just says that they voted to approve this. You know, it’s pretty simple, so I don’t see how they can object to it,” Murphy said.

There’s a 10-day window for the commissioners to challenge the petition, but recall supporters are ready to print the paperwork and start gathering signatures, said Murphy.

They will need to gather more than 700 signatures from registered voters in the city of about 9,000 people to get a recall vote on the next ballot.

“We have people champing at the bit waiting to get these circulated. All we have to do is tell them to turn the presses on and we’ll have petitions,” Murphy said.

Zack Everitt, the attorney representing the commissioners targeted by the petitions, said they have not yet decided whether to challenge the language in court.