At the beginning of the process, Neil Billington said he would try as many times as he had to in order to get recall petition language against state Rep. Gail Haines (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) approved by the Oakland County Elections Commission.
The magic number was four.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, the three-member panel — consisting of Clerk/Register of Deeds Bill Bullard, Jr., Treasurer Andy Meisner, and Circuit Court Family Division Judge Linda S. Hallmark — voted 2-1 to approve Billington’s fourth proposed petition language, which reads as follows:
“State Representative Gail Haines on February 23, 2011, voted YES on Michigan House Bill 4214 now Public Act 4 of 2011.”
PA 4 of 2011 is the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, known largely for giving state-appointed emergency financial managers greater authority in dealing with financial crises in municipal governments and school districts.
Billington has 180 days from Aug. 4 to collect 8,613 signatures, an amount equal to 25 percent of the total ballots cast for governor in the 43rd state House District in the last gubernatorial election.
“We’re coming out full blast,” he said. “I’ve already got people calling me in droves wanting to help me on the recall.”
He added that he is meeting with various groups to get his message out.
“We think we can get the 8,600 signatures in 45 days,” he said. “When I get started, we will go from morning until dark.”
Haines has said she supports peoples’ democratic rights to seek recalls, but defends her record of public service, saying she continues to enjoy broad support among her constituents.
“I’ve said before, I support democracy and the rights we share as American citizens,” she said said in June. “I work tirelessly for the people of my district and do my best to represent them in Lansing. I continue to have overwhelming support in my district.”
Bullard voted against approving the language, according to staff in the Clerk/Register of Deeds Elections Division.
Haines has a 10-day window from the date of the ruling in which she can appeal the Elections Commission’s decision to the Circuit Court, but she said she does not plan an appeal.
Billington’s first attempt to have petition language approved came in May, with two other unsuccessful efforts following over the course of the summer. All were denied due to lack of clarity.