Birmingham City Commissioner Pierre Boutros has announced he will run as a write-in candidate for commissioner on the November ballot, after failing to be certified for the ballot due to campaign finance filing problems.
Boutros, who is completing his first four-year term as a commissioner, had filed to run for re-election. However, city clerk Cherilynn Mynsberge on Friday, August 16, determined that she could not certify him for reelection after both a further review of election law and advice from the state of Michigan Bureau of Elections in the Secretary of State's Office, which supported a county elections official's earlier ruling that, due to failure of the candidate to comply with campaign finance reporting requirements from a past election, his name should be removed from the list of official candidates.
Boutros was first elected to the Birmingham City Commission in November 2015, filing as a candidate in July 2015, and is completing his first four-year term.
“When I filed my petition and signed an affidavit to appear on the ballot as a candidate for Birmingham City Commission, I was unaware that there were errors in my July and October 2016 quarterly filings. Both reports included all required information, but some of the data was mis-categorized. This was a clerical error. When I learned of the errors last month, I quickly amended the reports the same day to correctly categorize the data,” Boutros said at the Monday, August 19, city commission meeting at which he announced his write-in candidacy. “I am disappointed that this unfortunate series of events and clerical errors have led to my name being removed from the November 2019 ballot. However, I respect and appreciate the important role campaign finance laws play in the political and election process. I love the city of Birmingham and for the last four years, I have served the city’s residents with dedication and pride. I am announcing now that I will be running for re-election as a write-in candidate.”
The issue of Boutros' eligibility to appear on the ballot was first raised weeks ago when Joe Rozell, Oakland County Director of Elections, ruled that the city commissioner, who had filed to run for another term in the November 5 election, was ineligible for reelection to the city commission under Michigan election law.
Rozell sent a letter to Mynsberge dated July 30 noting that his office was in receipt of Boutros' affidavit of identity for city commission but the elections division of the county clerk's office could not certify the city commissioner as a candidate for this November's election because of his failure to comply with campaign reporting law. Rozell said the problem had to do with candidate campaign finance reporting problems dating back to July 2015.
“After a review of our records, we have determined that Mr. Boutros failed to file a required amended 2016 Quarterly report. MCL 168.558(4) as amended states, 'An affidavit of identity must include a statement that as of the date of the affidavit, all statements, reports, late filing fees and fines required of the candidate...have been filed or paid,'” Rozell wrote in his letter to Mynsberge.
The statute, which was updated and took immediate effect December 28, 2018, states if the affidavit is inaccurate, it is considered perjury, which in Michigan is a felony and “is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.”
Boutros acknowledged it will be some extra work to run as a write-in candidate, but that he is also excited to run again and meet and work with residents.
“I look forward to spreading the word to residents that I'm eligible for election, and the only difference is that they have to write my name in,” he said. “I'm not looking at it as a challenge but as a unique opportunity.”
Boutros, who owns and operates Mills Pharmacy + Apothecary on Maple Road in Birmingham, said his whole agenda is to better the city “and to help the city not just for my children, but for everyone else's, and for seniors, and for everyone. I live, work and play in Birmingham. My business is here, my children were born and are raised here, and we dine and play here. I'm engaged in the city.”
Under Michigan election law, write-in candidates have until October 25 to file a declaration of intent form for the November 5 election.
A total of seven other candidates filed petitions and have been certified for the election to determine four positions on the Birmingham City Commission.
Two incumbents whose terms were expiring, Patty Bordman and Carroll DeWeese, filed petitions to run for reelection for a second four-year term on the commission. Commissioner Andy Harris opted to not seek another term due to time constraints.
Also filing to run for a seat on the commission were Clinton Baller, Jake German, Brad Host, Therese Longe and Matt Wilde.