PONTIAC – Oakland County 6th Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris on Wednesday afternoon ordered a May 2013 special election for Troy to elect a new mayor.
The decision marks the tentative end to a nearly month-long battle between the City of Troy and the Secretary of State's office after Council voted on Nov. 21 not to seek further advice from the state on how to replace former Troy Mayor Janice Daniels, who was recalled on Nov. 6.
"The court agrees with the Secretary of State that the law requires a special election be held following a recall on the next regular election date, which is February 26, 2013," Morris said, reading her decision into the record Wednesday afternoon before a crowded courtroom. "However, after a careful review of the timeline and corrected affidavit of Elections Director Christopher Thomas, the court finds it would be virtually impossible for the election to be held in February due to the holidays."
She continued: "The court finds that fairness in the election process mandates that timely notice be rendered. ... Therefore, the court finds that the next regular election date is in May."
Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm, who has advocated for a November 2013 election date, said she is glad the situation has been resolved.
"Clarity has been provided, and we will certainly comply with the court’s order," Bluhm said. "We’ll proceed with a May election date. Our only interest was to protect the integrity of the election process, and this is a situation where it wasn’t clear. Now we have clarity, and we will move on from there.”
“Democracy and the voters in Troy are the real winners today," Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said in a press release Wednesday. "Voters are the ones who will be choosing the city’s next mayor.
"From the start, we’ve said that state law requires the election and now a judge has agreed. We now will work with city and county leaders to ensure the May election occurs in accordance with the judge’s ruling. I thank the Attorney General’s Office for representing my office in this case.”
Both the City of Troy and the Secretary of State were also sued Nov. 29 by political activist Robert Davis and Citizens United Against Corrupt Government, though Morris dismissed that case Wednesday, saying Davis did not have the authority to bring forth the lawsuit.
Morris has ordered the Secretary of State's office and the City of Troy to meet to prepare a new election timeline and report back to the court within five business days. The Secretary of State, meanwhile, may still appeal the judge's decision.
Editor's note: Quotes from Secretary of State Ruth Johnson were added to this story at 9:40 p.m. on Dec. 12.