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Wording for McDonald recall petition approved

 

Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

Bill McDonald

BESSEMER — The Gogebic County Election Commission Thursday approved language for a ballot on whether Bill McDonald should be recalled from the Bessemer School Board.

Sheri Graham, a fellow school member who is attempting to oust McDonald from office, will now have 180 days to collect signatures for a recall petition. The earliest a recall election could be held would be next May.

In her second effort to approve language for the ballot, Graham alleged:

—McDonald misled voters, telling them to vote no on a bond issue and to vote for plan B, when there was no plan B.

—Disregarded the school district’s bidding process by giving out premature information to a contractor without the board’s knowledge.

—Used foul language at board meetings, even though being warned not to do so by board presidents.

All three allegations were included in Graham’s first effort to get recall language approved. The commission rejected that effort because it found not all of the statements were factual.

McDonald again denied any wrongdoing on Thursday. “I have done nothing wrong. The petition to recall is motivated by Ms. Graham’s desire to silence a vocal critic of school board policy,” he said.

McDonald admitted he campaigned against the failed bond referendum, but said it was his right to do so as a citizen.

He said he didn’t tell anyone there was a plan B on the ballot, but used the term as figure of speech.

He also said foul language isn’t a sufficient cause for a recall and should lead to a reprimand from the school board instead.

McDonald denied meddling in the contract for a roof job on the high school.

Graham said she had removed the items that were considered opinion from her first recall ballot effort.

She said McDonald gave a contractor a “heads up” by providing him with contract specifications that hadn’t been board-approved and described how he slams his hand on the table at board meeting when he gets frustrated, and then swears.

Members of the election panel are county clerk Gerry Pelissero, county treasurer Sue Pertile and probate judge Joel Massie.

Of the new language, Pelissero said, “It’s clear and the facts are there for people to make an informed decision.”

Pertile and Massie agreed, also approving the language with a show of hands.

Massie explained to McDonald that he can appeal the election commission’s decision to the circuit court, if he so chooses.