ALPENA - Alpena County Clerk Bonnie Friedrich and her staff have sorted through the hundreds of signatures on the recall ballots against Alpena Municipal Councilmen Mike Nunneley and Dave Karschnick and Mayor Matt Waligora, and after review, determined the minimum amount needed to have the issue placed on the general election ballot in November.
A group led by Alpena's Cindy Johnson has been circulating petitions in an effort to obtain the 804 signatures needed to have the issue included on the ballot, which could lead to the ouster of the three men if the voters so choose.
Friedrich said not all of the names were checked, but that she approved more than what was officially needed.
"These are sufficient number. We only needed to validate 804, but we went a little above that," Friedrich said. "We did come across some that were no good because we either couldn't read the name or because a father and son in the same residence shared the same name and didn't put senior or junior, but I'm confident the ones we certified are good signatures."
Although more than 900 names were submitted to the clerk's office, Friedrich said the office verified 861 for Nunneley, 854 for Karschnick and 841 for Waligora. She said there was no need to check the rest of the names.
Friedrich sent certified letters to the three informing them of the approval of the signatures and informed them they have 72 hours to file a justification statement to respond to the allegations made by Johnson. The response must be in 200 words or less and will be on the ballot as well.
The language in the recall claims the councilmen acted irresponsibly when they voted to fire former Alpena City Manager Thad Taylor, and claims they violated the Open Meetings Act and put added pressure on the city's budget from the cost of Taylor's release and hiring a replacement.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.