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Petition to recall Bessemer school board member circulated

 


BESSEMER — A petition to oust Bessemer School Board member Bill McDonald has made a lot of progress since wording for it was approved in October, Sheri Graham said Friday.

More than 270 Bessemer and Bessemer Township voters need to sign the petition by the end of December to meet the deadline for a recall against McDonald to appear on the May ballot, Graham said.

“Board members have ethics and procedures to follow,” Graham said. “If someone doesn’t want to follow them, they shouldn’t be on the board,” she said.

Everyone has the right to his opinion, Graham said, but elected officials have to be careful.

“I’ve received very positive feedback about the petition,” Graham, also a school board member, said. “I put a lot of thought into the decision to move forward with it, and I am not taking it lightly.”

The recall petition alleges McDonald misled voters and told them and encouraged them to vote for “Plan B” on a referendum, when there was no such plan, along with disregarding the district’s bidding process and using foul language at meetings.

McDonald denied the allegations.

The recall petition “is a farce,” McDonald said. “Even if she gets the signatures, it won’t be on the ballot until May, and the school district will foot the bill. She should pay for it.”

It will cost the district $3,500 to get the recall on the May ballot for voters, district business manager Chris Bergquist said.

McDonald is part of an independent group attempting to put the question of consolidation of the Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco districts on the May ballot, too. He said if it passes, everyone on the Bessemer School Board will be out, because the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District will select a new school board for the combined new district.

Also on the May ballot, the Bessemer school board plans to ask for a bond referendum to make major improvements to the district’s buildings. No price-tag has been announced yet, but a $6.7 million proposal failed earlier this year.

McDonald predicted voters will again reject a bond referendum. He said efforts should instead be made toward consolidation. “Due to shrinking population, we will have a county school within the next 25 years,” he predicted.