Pierson president facing recall vote Tuesday

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:58 pm on Monday, May 07, 2012

Karl Van Haren

PIERSON — The president of the village of Pierson will find out Tuesday whether he will be recalled by his own constituents or remain in office.

In the meantime, Karl Van Haren has initiated his own recall effort against three of his own council members.

Councilwoman Rebecca Starr filed recall language against Van Haren. The recall language was approved Jan. 3 by Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard, Probate Judge Charles Simon III and Treasurer JoAnn Vukin.

Only six signatures were needed to initiate the recall, however, a total of 28 signatures were gathered in support of the recall.

The recall language against Van Haren states: “Shall President Karl Van Haren be recalled because he has harassed village personnel and residents and has been disrespectful to those who disagree with him? He has created a hostile work environment for village board members. He has caused strained relations between village board members, the village clerk and treasurer.”

Van Haren’s justification of conduct in office statement is also included on Tuesday’s ballot.

“Thank you for voting in this election as it will help determine one of the officials who make up this council,” Van Haren’s statement reads. “I’ve done my best to look out for your interests as a village. I have consistently asserted not to proceed without careful examining of village funding before taking on the task of moving the village forward in a positive manner such as grooming the village easements.

“At times recall law is absolutely justifiable, although this recall attempt is an abuse of law, being targeted by residents with another agenda. A personal vendetta against me; in part, for removing infected ash trees from 66’ of village easement in order to maintain and control water shedding at First/Elm.
Rebecca Starr, a current trustee and direct neighbor of mine; she’s not only orchestrating the recall but feels a sense of entitlement to this property because of dead end.

“Reasons for submitting recalls don’t need to be truthful; just clear to the public who vote on it. Rebecca Starr’s endeavors will cost the village over $4,500. I stepped up when no one was willing to take on this job; my term would have ended in six months.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the village of Pierson.

Van Haren filed his own recall language against Starr and her fellow council members Duane Griffes and Verna Smigiel. The recall language against the three council members was approved by Millard, Simon and Vukin on April 27. Van Haren had until Friday to submit signatures to Millard’s office.

“As elected officials cannot be recalled in the last six months of their term, and all of their terms expire in November, the signed recall petitions must be filed by Friday,” Millard noted.

The recall language against Starr states: “Shall Trustee Rebecca Starr be recalled due to conducting official village business and holding meetings out of her home with fellow council members? She has prevented the village from moving forward in a positive manger. She has created a hostile work environment for the clerk and treasurer.”

The recall language against Griffes states: “Shall Trustee Duane Griffes be recalled due to his willful neglect of duty? He has financially burdened the village of Pierson by his misuse of the village attorney for his own personal gain. He has caused strained relations between the village council members, treasurer and village clerk.”

The recall language against Smigiel states: “Shall Trustee Verna Smigiel be recalled for interfering with the work schedules of the village employee and office staff? She has degraded village personnel during public council meetings with her explosive temper and disrespect toward those who disagree with her.”

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