Cooper defeats Belding councilman Feuerstein in recall vote


By Cory Smith • Last Updated 3:11 pm on Thursday, November 06, 2014

BELDING — After serving three years of his five-year term as councilman of this city, Joe Feuerstein will now exit his seat after losing to challenger Dennis Cooper in a special recall election.

Cooper received 587 votes to Feuerstein’s 385 votes, or 54 to 35 percent.

Fellow challenger John LaClear, also vying for Feuerstein’s seat, received 112 votes, or 10 percent.

Cooper began his recall campaign on June 6. Recall language was approved on June 18, reading: “Belding City Councilman Joe Feuerstein voted yes to install the city council as the Zoning Board of Appeals on May 20, 2014.”

After several weeks of collecting the required 327 signatures, the recall petition was approved and the special election was added to Tuesday’s election ballot.

Cooper told The Daily News in June that the recall was being sought due to issues he has with various members of Belding City Council.

Cooper said he had personally witnessed inconsistencies at council meetings and felt the need to recall Feuerstein, who was the only council member eligible for recall attempts at the time, according to Ionia County Clerk Tonda Rich.

On winning the recall Tuesday, Cooper said he was pleasantly “shocked” by the results, receiving nearly 600 votes.

“I know there’s a lot of people that are involved, even though they are not always at meetings,” he said. “They follow what is going on (in town). I know that I need to make sure that I get out and understand what their concerns are.”

Cooper added that once he is sworn onto council on Nov. 18, that he hopes to continue his goal of “taking the city in a positive direction.”

“I’m excited, but I’m just honored and humbled that I was selected to fill this seat, that I am now trusted with those duties by the citizens of our community,” he said.

Feuerstein said that he was not surprised by the outcome of the election, adding that he had prepared himself to step down from his position.

“I kind of expected that he (would win) the way things were going,” he said. “He’ll be in there and you can see that there will be changes.”

Feuerstein didn’t elaborate on any specific changes, but said he doesn’t believe the recall was necessary or the right thing for the city.

“It’s the wrong thing … there could be anybody in my position, and what went on (with the recall) wasn’t a good thing,” he said.

In 2013, Feuerstein’s four-year term was extended to five years, to November 2016, but Feuerstein said he would have resigned after four years to honor the original commitment.

“I can go back and have my life,” he said. “I considered (being a councilman) a job, and that’s what I did. It was a job.”

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