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Local state lawmakers targeted for recall

By Lisa Brody


Three local state representatives are among the eight Michigan lawmakers targeted by a coordinated recall effort based upon their recent votes on hate crime laws and gun legislation.


Among those targeted are Democratic Reps. Noah Arbit (West Bloomfield, Commerce Township, Bloomfield Township, Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake, Keego Harbor) and Sharon MacDonell (Troy, Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Clawson, Royal Oak) and Republican Rep. Donni Steele (Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Auburn Hills, Orion Township).


In addition, Democratic state Reps. Jennifer Conlin of Ann Arbor, Reggie Miller of Belleville, Jaime Churches of Wyandotte, Betsy Coffia of Traverse City and Republican Cam Cavitt of Cheboygan.


Each of the lawmakers who are facing recall are due to a vote they took while representing their constituents, not for malfeasance in office.


While the Michigan Board of Canvassers rejected their recall petitions on August 1, new recall petitions were refiled on Arbit and MacDonell on Wednesday, August 9, along with Conlin and Miller.

Only Cavitt's petition was approved by the board of canvassers, for voting for state Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) as House Speaker. It is believed the others were rejected because they only had a bill number without any description.


To recall a lawmaker, following tightening of the recall law in 2012 under former Gov. Rick Snyder, petitioners must get the petition language approved by the board of canvassers, and then collect within 60 days the signatures – all in the representative's district – equal to 25 percent of all votes cast for governor in the representatives district in the 2022 election.


Arbit has been targeted for his vote on House Bill 4474, which he also sponsored, which made ethnic intimidation based on religion, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, race, physical or mental disability, age or sex a hate crime. According to a notice posted on Arbit's Facebook page, the board of canvassers will meet on the refiling of the recall petitions on Monday, August 21. It was filed against him by Gerald Clixby, who Arbit said he does not know and has not met.


While Arbit said he does not have absolute proof, each of the recall petitions uses the same language, and he believes it is being done through the Oakland County Republican Party. “A lot of their leadership and precinct captains are the filers,” he noted.


“They're very exercised about me. I am gay, I am Jewish, I am young, I am forthright. I have campaigned on hate crimes. I think they view me as a threat,” he said. “It's authentic to me. We got these two bills – pieces of landmark legislation – passed in my first six months. They're demagoguing against me.”


MacDonell said her recall petition was filed against her for voting for the extreme risk protection act – also known as the “red flag” law. “It's extremely popular in the state of Michigan and in my district,” she noted.


As for the original petition and the latest refiling, she said, “It's such a distraction. I am voting the way my constituents feel. To come after me like this is so annoying. I'm going to continue working for the people of my district and working to keep Michigan safe.


“I've been targeted for doing my job – I don't think this is the purpose of recall,” she noted.


Arbit concurred. “General elections, primary elections are when people should be held accountable. Recalls are for malfeasance. This to me is a defect of the recall law. It's a waste of taxpayer money. I have confidence that if I have to run three elections next year – a recall, a primary and a general – I will win.”


Steele, who as of this writing has not had a recall petition refiled –“yet,” as she noted, was targeted for voting yes on gun legislation that requires safe storage of firearms when minors are at home with an adult.


“I was voting my district,” she stated. “I have no regret on my vote. It makes me even more convinced on my vote based on the feedback I've received. We're in a purple district. I think my vote was purple. People have elected me to use my brain and my judgement on every bill and vote, and not just vote the party line.”


Steele said she finds the recall humorous, “because they hate me on either side. Those that are Republican said I wasn't conservative enough.


“It's so much time and money wasted.”

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