In a letter sent Monday to Troy City Clerk Aileen Bittner and City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm, state Director of Elections Christopher Thomas directed the city to conduct a special election in February "to fill the vacancy created by former Mayor Daniels' recall."
The letter arrived the same day Troy City Council voted 4-2 to appoint Dane Slater Mayor of Troy until the Nov. 5, 2013 regular election.
"I understand the City's legal position to be that, pursuant to the Troy City Charter, the City intends to allow the person who was recently appointed to temporarily fill the vacancy in the office of Mayor to serve until a successor is elected at the next regularly scheduled city election" next November, he wrote. However, he asserted, the recall of a public official is not covered under the law that allows municipalities to govern their own elections.
"For example, MCL 168321(1) provides that 'the qualifications, nomination, election, appointment, term of office, and removal from office of a city officer shall be in accordance with the charter provisions governing the city,'" Thomas wrote. "Notably omitted from the conditions that fall within the exclusive purview of the city charter are 'recall' and 'filing a vacancy caused by recall.'"
Toward the end of the 3-page letter, Thomas concluded: "Simply put, there is no legal authority to refrain from conducting an election to fill the vacancy caused by the former Mayor's recall until a time of the City's choosing. In accordance with my authority under the Michigan Election Law, you are directed to take all necessary steps in preparation for a special election to be held on February 26, 2013."
Though City Clerk Aileen Bittner would not comment on the specific allegations in the letter, she said city administrators are currently "drafting a response that will be issued to him this afternoon" which "will refute the allegations."
Stay with Troy Patch for updates on this developing story.