JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – A year full of political controversy in Jackson has taken another turn.
If a recall effort against him is approved, Derek Dobies has announced he’ll give up defending his sixth ward council seat to focus on running for mayor.
Dobies sat down with 6 News Wednesday and talked about how he wants to become the next mayor of Jackson.
“That’s why we filed to run for mayor and not for city council again this year,” Dobies said.
But Dobies isn’t up for re-election for his sixth ward council seat.
A group called Grassroots Jackson wants to recall Dobies because of what he said on Twitter.
In a tweet from Feb. 25, he told people signing petitions to block the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to “watch what u sign.”
Grassroots Jackson calls that intimidation.
Dobies calls their recall drive a distraction.
“That’s the politics as usual that I think this community doesn’t approve of. And rejects,” Dobies said.
The group recently turned in 645 signatures to recall Dobies.
Those petitions are still being checked but if they’re approved, Dobies says he has no intention of defending his council seat.
“We were always prepared to have to leave the sixth ward upon election as mayor. This just moves up that timeline,” Dobies said.
Grassroots Jackson wouldn’t go on camera, but they say Dobies saw the writing on the wall and that they’re excited he won’t be running for the sixth ward seat.
They also say Dobies only cares about his own political ambitions and the sixth ward needs a representative that will address the concerns of residents.
But Dobies says it’s only because he doesn’t want to focus on just one ward.
As mayor, he’d serve all of them.
“We’ve been very focused on staying above the fray, continuing to talk about our positive vision for the city,” Dobies said.
If the petitions are approved, voters in the sixth ward will choose a new council representative during the November general election.
Because Dobies did not file for the potential sixth ward race by Friday, Aug. 11, his name will not appear on the ballot if the recall progresses.
The Jackson County Clerk’s Office is working to verify at least 493 signatures are from registered voters who live in sixth ward by Sept. 1.
Dobies will face off against the current mayor, Bill Jors, in November.
He has served the city’s sixth ward, a residential area on the south-west side of Jackson, since 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.
Dobies has also served as the city’s vice mayor since 2013.