The Troy City Council met Wednesday afternoon to review and discuss the conflicting requirements of the Troy Charter and State Election Law regarding the appointment of a replacement of the Mayor position and the process to fill that position’s remaining term (until November 2015).
The special meeting was called in response to a letter Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm received last week from state Director of Elections Christopher Thomas, which writes: "It is the position of the Bureau of Elections that the City is required to conduct a special election to fill the vacancy on Feb. 26, 2013."
Attorney Bluhm said having a special election so soon would violate City Charter, which requires potential candidates to file a petition signed by at least 60 registered electors of the City "on or before 4 o’clock p.m. of the one hundredth (100th) day preceding the next election," according to the Charter.
“We are not comfortable having a February election because that would require us to violate some of our charter provisions," Bluhm said. "It's not enough notice."
Wednesday’s special meeting was called at the request of councilmen Dave Henderson and Wade Fleming.
Fleming prepared the following resolution for council, that was ultimately denied after a deadlocked 3-3 vote: “That Troy City Council hereby directs our City Attorney to contact the State Attorney General on Monday, November 26, 2012 regarding the (subject) November 16, 2012 letter from Christopher M. Thomas and seek the legal opinion of and direction from the Attorney General on this matter as soon as possible which this Council would accept as final and binding.”
Fleming, Henderson, and Councilman Doug Tietz voted in favor of seeking the advice of the State Attorney General, each interested in hearing the state’s opinion in determining the best way to handle the election.
However, Mayor Dane Slater, as well as council members Jim Campbell and Maureen McGinnis voted against the resolution. They said they voted based on advice from Bluhm, who said that upholding the Troy Charter is paramount.
Bluhm and City Clerk Aileen Bittner consulted with the Oakland County Elections Division. Bittner said that under the law only the Oakland County Clerk or a circuit court judge could call an election and as of this date, the County clerk has not called an election for February.
“I don’t really understand how we came to the conclusion that this is the best way to go. This is between our charter and our state law. There are multiple areas. I’m not sure why we would ask the state to weigh in and give us their opinion,” McGinnis said.
Fleming said he’s concerned state law may trump the City Charter and that seeking the opinion of the Attorney General is the best idea at this point.
After the vote, a number of citizens voiced their discontent for council’s decision, saying they should have sought advice from the state.
Likewise, an organized group of Troy citizens gathered outside City Hall after the meeting for a press conference where they stated that their plans to once again ask the city consider advice from the Attorney General.
“Troy is not going to step outside of the boundaries of our law that the people’s representatives passed; and that’s what seems to have happened here. For the city attorney to move forward in this reckless way certainly uncalled for,” said resident Glenn Clark, a former Oakland County Commissioner. “Having said that, we are calling on the city attorney and the city administration to contact the Attorney General’s office and try to find a resolution for this and demand to find a rule of law.”