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Group submits signatures to recall top county Republican Party leader from local school board

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
"We would like to again demand Matthew Smith takes the advice of Judge Crawford and the prosecutor...Grow up...Be a Man...Take responsibility and resign," says Jenessa Phillips, of the one organizers of the recall campaign.

The Genesee County Republican Party chairman is a step closer to facing a recall election for the seat he holds on a local school board.

A judge sentenced Matthew Smith last week to 12 months probation for making a malicious phone call to the Democratic Houghton County Clerk in 2020. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge last year.

Clerk Jennifer Kelly claims during the 1 a.m. phone call Smith threatened to kill her dogs. Smith says the phone call was meant to "annoy" Kelly, who at the time was running for re-election against a friend of Smith’s. He denies he threatened to kill her dogs.

The controversial led to the recall campaign against Smith.

Recall committee organizer Jenessa Phillips says they’ve collected more than 4100 signatures, enough to put a recall on the May ballot.

“We have heard from many people that it was Matt’s own words, his media interviews and social media posts, mischaracterizing what happened to him in court that led to the outrage that pushed this effort over the top,” says Phillips.

Genesee County elections officials will have to verify there are enough valid signatures to qualify for a recall election. Smith will have the option of challenging signatures.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.