Jackson launches election to fill recalled city council seat

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – After weeks of verifying signatures, the Jackson County Clerk’s Office has certified petitions to recall Jackson City Councilman Derek Dobies.

But now that the recall has been made official, the election that comes next makes the situation even more complicated.

Here’s how we got to this point.

Back in February, Dobies, who represents the city’s sixth ward and also serves as Vice Mayor, made a Twitter post that warned people about signing a petition aimed at blocking the city’s LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, also known as the NDO.

Last month, a group called Grassroots Jackson handed in petitions to recall him, saying that tweet was intimidation.

Wednesday, the Jackson County Clerk’s Office announced that staff had verified 604 signatures of registered sixth ward voters.

493 were needed to recall Dobies.

However, Dobies recently announced that he wasn’t going to defend his seat in a possible recall election.

Now that the recall is officially happening, that means just about anyone in the city’s sixth ward can put their name on the ballot and try to win his seat.

This will be a surprise election for residents in Jackson’s sixth ward, a mostly residential neighborhood on the city’s southwest side.

“We need changes in city hall,” said sixth ward resident James Hoch.

“It will be interesting to see who we get,” said sixth ward resident Linda Marks.

In a recent interview with 6 News, Dobies explained that he decided not to defend the council seat so he could focus on running for mayor.

“We were always prepared to have to leave the sixth ward upon election as mayor. This just moves up that timeline,” Dobies said.

Because there’s no time for a primary, the city says anyone who lives in the city’s sixth ward can run for the council seat.

Candidates have until Sept. 15 to file paperwork with the city to put their name on the ballot.

There is no limit of how many candidates can be on the ballot for this race.

This is welcome news to voters in the sixth ward who want a change of leadership.

“I want to see someone who’s independent and doesn’t follow whatever they say in city hall and listen to the voters,” Hoch said.

Others in the sixth ward feel the recall isn’t necessary and this is intended to be a political hit on Dobies.

“I think it’s mostly lashing back against the NDO. And here in Jackson, he was the spearhead for that,” Marks said.

But whatever happens, voters hope the city can move forward.

“Prioritize fixing the roads in the outlying areas, not just downtown. I think there’s infrastructure that needs to be addressed,” Hoch said.

“And I would hope the city council can work together,” Marks said.

Responding to initial news of the recall, Dobies told 6 News that he looked at the recall drive as a political distraction.

“That’s the politics as usual that I think that this community doesn’t approve of and rejects,” Dobies said.

Grassroots Jackson did not respond to requests for comment.

An official list of candidates will be available after the filing deadline.

The election takes place Nov. 7.

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