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Recalls filed against Sand Lake trustees

By Judy Reed

Almost a year after the last election, war is still waging between the members voted off the Village of Sand Lake board and those elected to replace them.

Former Village trustee Glen Baker has filed recall petitions against current trustees Marcia Helton and Stacy Rudicil. On September 7, the Kent County Elections Commission ruled that the language on the petitions is “factual in nature and of sufficient clarity” to approve. 

If Baker gets enough signatures to make it on to next spring’s ballot, voters will have to decide if the statements are valid. “Factualness does not necessarily mean true,” explained Kent County Elections Director Gerrid Uzarski.

Baker’s reasoning for recalling Helton is as follows: “On January 18, 2021, the governing body of the Village of Sand Lake voted to pay the Kent County Drain Commission special assessment on a 10 year payment plan so as to manage its cash flow. Contrary to the vote of the governing body, in its management of cash its affairs, Marcia Helton, consciously disregarded the official action by preparing and signing a check for payment in full ($87,253.18) of the special assessment.

Helton had this to say: “In the February meeting minutes you will find the council voted to pay the Kent County Drain Commission bill to save the Village quite a bit of interest and the Village had the money to pay. The savings was over $15,000. I voted to pay the bill to save the Village interest.”

The Post checked the minutes from their February 15 meeting, and they show that the council did vote to pay the Drain Commission the full amount in one single payment to save interest. The vote was 5-1, with Rachel Gokey voting no. The check shows it was cut the next day. So according to the minutes, Helton was following what the board voted to do when she paid the check and did not go against their wishes. 

The recall petition against Rudicil reads: “On March 25, 2021, Village Trustee Stacy Rudicil voted to terminate the DPW Supervisor’s employment contract, which created instability in the maintenance and distribution of the Village of Sand Lake’s water system. Her vote resulted in a breach of contract claim filed by the former Supervisor.”

Rudicil had this to say about the reason given for her recall: “I, along with other members of the Village Council, received a report from the Village Attorney that the former DPW Director’s contract with the former Village Council was not authorized by law. Based on that, and the repeated actions of the former DPW Director, his employment with the Village was terminated. The former DPW Director’s lawsuit against the Village is groundless.”

The Post asked Village President Mollie Doerr about the advice from their Village attorney regarding the former DPW Director’s contract. She confirmed Rudicil’s statement. “This contract was deemed voidable by the village attorney and is still under review in a current litigation,” she explained. She added that everyone on the board participated in the vote, not just Rudicil.

“Unfortunately, Marcia and Stacy have found themselves as the only council members of the Village of Sand Lake that are eligible for recall at this moment. Marcia and Stacy have both been fantastic additions to the Village Council and are respected in the community in their selfless giving to village events and community service.

“It does appear as though this previous trustee (Baker) is unhappy with last November’s election results. It is a shame that the time of election officials of Kent County is being wasted at the expense of taxpayers for these ridiculous accusations.”

The petition language is valid for 180 days after the determination. Once circulated, all signatures must be collected within 60 days of each other in order to be valid. Signatures must be filed by January 28, 2022 in order to qualify for the May 2022 Ballot.

Village trustee Rachel Gokey is also facing recall, and will be on the November 2, running against Jack Christensen for her seat.

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