Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eric Sturgis and Carol Kuhnke sign Albert Howard's petition. Was Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje in danger of being disqualified?

Working with Others: Albert Howard Moderator Mike Henry brought up an issue that Jack Eaton had raised with a Facebook post. [Eaton attended the Ward 1 forum; he's contesting the Ward 4 Democratic primary with incumbent Margie Teall, reprising their 2010 race.] The Facebook post in question was this: While attending the Juneteeth celebration at Wheeler Park, I saw “Democratic” candidate Eric Sturgis sign Republican/Independent candidate Albert Howard’s Nominating petition. Makes you wonder. Sturgis responded by asking, “Isn’t Albert Howard the same party as Jane Lumm?” [Jack Eaton, a Democrat, joined many other local Democrats in supporting Lumm, an erstwhile Republican who ran in 2011 as an independent. Howard contested New Hampshire's presidential primary in 2008 as a Republican, and more recently sought to gather signatures for nominating petitions in the Ann Arbor mayoral Republican primary this year, but did not achieve enough valid signatures. He's currently circulating petitions to run for Ann Arbor mayor as an independent.] A brief back-and-forth between Sabra Briere and Sturgis drew out the fact that Howard had tried to collect petitions as a Republican for mayor, failed to get a sufficient number of signatures and is now circulating petitions as an independent. Sturgis explained his signing of Howard’s mayoral nominating petitions. He described how he was approached by four people who were Ward 1 voters who said, “Hey, I’ll support you, I’ll put a sign out, and I’ll come around and help you in this certain area, but you’ve got to sign a petition.” So he asked who he was signing for. After he signed Howard’s nominating petition, he noted that his signature wouldn’t count, because he’d already signed John Hieftje’s mayoral nominating petitions. Sturgis said he’d told the petition circulator right after he signed that his signature wouldn’t count. Sturgis said he’s all for people running for office – because it’s one of highest forms of patriotism. He’s heard people use the phrase the “Ann Arbor Tea Party” – people who are against everything, Sturgis said. Democracy is about letting people get on the ballot. He supports Hieftje wholeheartedly, Sturgis said. He also knows Howard, he said, because he’s coached Howard’s kids. “I’m sorry I know people in the community,” Sturgis offered sardonically. By way of background on the issue of a person signing more than one candidate’s petition, Michigan’s election law stipulates that only the earlier signature counts: 168.547a Nominating petitions; signatures by voters, number, counting. Sec. 547a. If a qualified and registered voter signs nominating petitions for a greater number of candidates for public office than the number of persons to be elected thereto, his signatures, if they bear the same date, shall not be counted upon any petition, and if they bear different dates shall be counted in the order of their priority of date for only so many candidates as there are persons to be elected. But the Ann Arbor city charter differs from state election law. According to the city charter, a second signature invalidates both signatures: Circulation and Signing of Nomination Petitions SECTION 13.9. … (b) If any person signs a greater number of petitions for any office than there will be persons elected to that office, that person’s signature shall be disregarded on all petitions for that office. City clerk Jackie Beaudry told The Chronicle in a telephone interview that as a practical matter, the clerk’s office would not evaluate Howard’s signatures against those of Hieftje and possibly disqualify signatures for Hieftje. The nominating petitions are essentially for two different elections, she pointed out – a partisan primary compared to a the general election. She also noted that Hieftje likely had sufficient signatures, even without the signature of Sturgis. In addition, Hieftje has already been certified for the ballot and the ballots have been sent to the printer. Asked by moderator Mike Henry at the forum if she’d signed nominating petitions in the mayoral race, Kailasapathy indicated she had not.

No comments: