Two candidates have filed to fill the pair of Alpena Municipal Council seats that will be up for grabs during the November election. One is councilman Shawn Sexton, who decided to run for another term, and the other is former council member Mike Nunneley, who was the subject of a recall last year.
Both of the men were on the council when former city manager Thad Taylor was released from his contract without cause, which sparked a public backlash that led to the recall of Nunneley, Dave Karschnick and Mayor Matt Waligora. Only Waligora survived the recall.
Nunneley said after some consideration and a talk with his family, he decided to mount an effort to return to the council. He said his passion for the city and ability to help it navigate forward is something that the city can benefit from. He said there are a lot of positive things taking place in Alpena, but there are also alarming issues that need to be addressed.
"My passions for Alpena haven't changed and we have some wonderful opportunities, but we still have some major challenges," Nunneley said. "I think I bring a skill set and experience that I feel is compatible to the needs of the city right now. I have a right to be able to put my name out there and if folks choose to select me, I would be honored to serve again."
Sexton, who served with Nunneley on the council, said in a statement that he believed most voters were under the impression that Nunneley was not allowed to run for two more years when his original term expired. He said he is surprised Nunneley chose to do so, so soon after the voters in Alpena removed him less than a year ago.
"To run for office less than a year after being overwhelmingly recalled seems to disregard the opinion and intent of the voters," Sexton said. "Considering the nightmare our community recently went through during the recall, and the fresh start Susan Neilsen and Mike Nowak have brought to the council, I fear this is a step backwards. I'm disappointed that Mike and I are the public's only options and would encourage interested parties to run as write-in candidates."
Nunneley said he knows there will be a certain amount of backlash exhibited toward him for deciding to run. He said if he is elected again he will work with everyone on the council and the staff at City Hall to do what is in the best interest of the city and asked those who voted to recall him to respect his decision to run once more, just as he respected their right to vote for his ouster.
"I'm excited about the city, but I can't make decisions for other folks about if they want to work with me or not. If the voters choose to elect me into this great position I will do as I always have. Tell the truth and look people in the eye and explain why I did what I did," Nunneley said. "I'm looking forward to working with Mayor Waligora and new City Manager Greg Sundin.
Sexton said he was also disappointed Nunneley had a friend of his pull the petition from the clerks office for him. Instead of going into the office on his own, Nunneley asked Jorden Susewitz to do so while he was at city hall. Susewitz obligated and Nunneley got the signatures needed and submitted them on Tuesday.
"It is unfortunate he did not pull his own petition and kept his candidacy a secret," Sexton said. "It certainly had an effect on who would or wouldn't have run against him."
Nunneley said he was not trying to hide his candidacy, but just had a friend do a favor for him. "All I did was ask a buddy to pick it up for me. There was nothing more to it than that. I wasn't trying to hide anything."
Clerk Karen Hebert said state law allows Nunneley to run so soon after his recall because he is running for a different seat with a different term. If he had run for his old seat, he would be unable to. Hebert said City Attorney Bill Pfeifer confirmed that Nunneley was allowed to run according to the law.
Hebert also said there is a chance there could be people who decide to run as a write-in candidate. She said people wishing to do so must take the appropriate steps before Oct. 25.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.