Recall elections could cost thousands for local municipalities
ALPENA — If the recall effort against State Rep. Cam Cavitt, a Republican from Cheboygan, get the signatures it needs, and a special election is held, it will cost small local governments thousands of dollars.
Because there are few, if any, elections planned for this year, a recall election would be costly to smaller local governments who don’t budget for them and already struggle with deficits. It is likely a recall would be held in May of 2024, if enough signatures are collected, which put the financial burden on local governments to pay for it.
For many communities, the cost of having to have a recall election could cost between $10,000 and $15,000 for each municipality.
Long Rapids Township Clerk Mary Thomson said the township could absorb the cost of the recall election, but it would take some financial maneuvering because the money wasn’t budgeted for.
She said she is unsure how much a recall election would cost, but she said no matter the amount, it was an unplanned expense, which isn’t ideal.
“It will cost too much,” she said. “Elections are expensive and because it was unexpected, it certainly wasn’t budgeted for. We can cover the cost, but it is an unplanned expense.”
The recall petition against Cavitt was filed in Alcona County earlier this year by Gary Wnuk, a former Republican Alcona County commissioner and member of the Fairview Area Schools Board of Education.
Wnuk, seeks to recall Cavitt over his support on a procedural vote to name Democratic Rep. Joe Tate of Detroit as House speaker. Lawmakers from the minority party typically vote for the majority’s selected speaker, and most often the vote is unanimous. This time around, a large majority of Republicans backed Tate in the formal vote, including Cavitt, but eight Republicans voted against the current speaker.
Wnuk could not be reached for comment
Alpena Township Clerk Michele Palevich said because the township’s budget runs from April 1 through March 31, the township budgeted for an election next year, and included money for an additional election, should the money be needed for an unexpected election.
“It would cost about $15,000, but it is budgeted for,” Palevich said. “We set money aside in case a millage request pops up, so we do have the money allocated, if we need it.”
Alpena City Clerk Anna Soik said if the recall election is held, it would likely need to be in May because there isn’t enough time to have it in November. She said the city didn’t budget for the unexpected election, and she estimated the cost to be about $15,000 and the money would need to be taken from savings.
She said there are already three elections slated for 2024, the presidential primary, general primary, and presidential election, and adding another will take a toll on finances and the election workforce.
“We only planned for one election so we would have to do a transfer from general fund balance to cover the cost, because it wasn’t planned,” Soik said. “Having four elections next year is going to be a struggle.”
In August, Cavitt told The News the recall won’t prohibit him from doing his job, which he said is helping to create good policy and bring government funds to Northeast Michigan. He said in the end, it is the residents who would be hurt by the possible recall because they are the ones footing the bill.
Cavitt said there are 63 townships and many cities in his district, and the burden of paying for the recall will fall on them. Cavitt said the total amount to hold the election would be in excess of $500,000 combined, just for the townships.
“These townships and small communities struggle now with tight budgets, and they sure didn’t budget for something like this,” he said. “When it comes right down to it, it is the taxpayers who are paying for it and that’s a shame, because there are a lot of things I’m sure they would rather see their money be used for.”
Cavitt was elected in 2022, after holding off fellow Republicans Geyer Balog and Larry Hull for the right to face Democrat candidate Marie Fielder in the general election.
He defeated Fielder during the gubernatorial election.
The recall could inadvertently provide a financial boost for Cavitt’s re-election campaign, if he isn’t removed from office. A recall, once it begins, allows candidates to raise much higher amounts of money under the state’s campaign finance laws.
Cavitt said that will help but is not a priority for him.
“I’m focused on doing what the people in Northeast Michigan sent me down to Lansing to do,” he said. “This is all just political, but It won’t deter me from doing my job.”