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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Recall aimed at Genesee County Republican Party chair moving to court

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio
“We seek a judicial review of the signature count and a court order to place the recall on the ballot for the November election due to improper and inconsistent procedures," said Kelly Hilgendorf (center), retired Davison school teacher

There's a renewed push to recall Matthew Smith from his position as a member of the Davison Community Schools board.

Smith is also the Genesee County Republican Party chairman. Last year, he pleaded guilty to making a malicious phone call to a Democratic county clerk in the Upper Peninsula in 2020.

Smith added his actions were “totally inappropriate,” though he insisted his intent was just to annoy Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly. Kelley claims Smith threatened to kill her dogs during the call.

A recall petition to oust Smith from the Davison school board collected some 4,000 signatures. However, the Genesee County clerk ruled the recall petition drive fell 38 valid signatures short.

But in a new lawsuit, Smith’s critics contend the clerk’s office miscounted 150 to 200 valid signatures of registered voters.

“We seek a judicial review of the signature count and a court order to place the recall on the ballot for the November election due to improper and inconsistent procedures,” said retired teacher Kelly Hilgendorf.

The lawsuit names Genesee County Clerk John Gleason and four local municipal clerks.

Gleason did not respond to a request for comment.

Joshua Freeman is the director of administration for the Genesee County Board of Commissioners. He declined to comment on the lawsuit, though he noted that this is something the Clerk’s office would handle rather than the board.

The subject of the recall campaign is also declining to weigh in on the lawsuit.

In a written statement, Matthew Smith said “At this point, this is between the local clerks and those challenging, not me.”

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