Want to run for Belleville Township trustee? Board continues to plan for special election

News-DemocratJuly 31, 2013 

— A Belleville Township trustee is asking St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook to moderate a special meeting to elect a new trustee.

There's a vacancy on the Township Board after Trustee Paul Klingler died May 20. The board did not appoint someone within 60 days of his death, so now it's up to voters to pick a candidate for the position.

The board had appointed Ralph Hult, but he resigned earlier this month because he was not a member of the same party as Klingler. Hult is an independent and Klingler was part of the Belleville Good Government party.

Trustee Joy Schreiber, an independent, said she wants Holbrook to moderate the meeting with the help of two election judges -- one a Democrat and the other a Republican.

Holbrook, who was appointed by the St. Clair County Board this year, is aware of Schreiber's request. Holbrook said Tuesday he is waiting until Schreiber discusses her suggestion with the full Township Board.

"It's a township decision," Holbrook said. "I don't want to prejudice their decision in any way. If they decide that they would like me to moderate that, that's their decision and I'd be willing to do it and I'd plan accordingly."

Holbrook said Tuesday that he supports the Belleville Good Government party and has made campaign donations to the party.

The township has authority over the special meeting process.

Holbrook said the county will provide whatever election information and resources available -- such as a voter list -- if the township asks for the county's help.

The board likely will discuss the special meeting date, time, location and other details at its next meeting at 3 p.m. on Aug. 6.

This is how the special meeting will work: Qualified voters who show up at the special meeting first elect a moderator to run the special meeting.

Next, voters nominate candidates. This means that voters might not know who the candidates are before the special meeting.

Voters make a decision by voice vote, according to state law. This means voters can choose a candidate by submitting a paper ballot, or through a show of hands or voice vote. The person who gets the most votes is elected and holds office until 2017.

Some parts of the process are not outlined by the township code, leaving room for township leaders to decide, for instance, whether the candidates will be allowed to make speeches.

Here are Schreiber's other suggestions:

*The voter registration verification process should be done at the meeting.

* The proposed "voice" vote should not be a group "voice" vote. Instead, one "voice" vote should be at a time and counted.

* Results should be confirmed before the meeting ends.

"... Many aspects of this process should offer encouragement to the electors," Schreiber stated in an email Friday. "The chance to elect rather than to accept an appointment places control in the hands of the voters and provides a participation in their government that can only benefit the community as a whole."

"I encourage everyone to participate in this important endeavor of selecting a trustee to fill the vacant seat of the Belleville Township," Schreiber said. "The choice is yours."

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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