Arcadia Township to hold recall election May 8

ARCADIA TWP. — Registered voters in Arcadia will have an opportunity on May 8 to determine the makeup of its township board in a special recall election, which was officially called by the Manistee County Clerk this week.

The recall is for current trustees Michael Cederholm and Greg Wisner, who are each in the midst of four-year terms that expire on Nov. 20, 2020.

Jill Nowak, Manistee County Clerk, said filing deadlines for interested candidates are fast approaching since the special election was made official on Monday.

Since Cederholm and Wisner are Republican candidates for the partisan positions, the Manistee County Democratic Party and Manistee County Libertarian Party have until March 15 (10 days following the call of the election) to each nominate two qualified candidates for the positions.

The political parties must file a certificate of nomination while their candidates will need to complete an affidavit of identity to be placed on the ballot.

Qualified candidates without political party affiliation may also file for candidacy at the clerk’s office (415 3rd St. in Manistee) by 5 p.m. on March 15.

“Candidates not affiliated with a political party will be expected to file an affidavit of identity as well as a qualifying petition,” Nowak said. “Those petitions are determined by the population of the district, so they will need a minimum of one signature to a maximum of three signatures for the size of Arcadia Township.”

The incumbent candidates — Cederholm and Wisner — are automatically listed as candidates in the recall election.

March 19 is the last day for new candidates to withdrawal from the race.

Language for the recall petitions were filed on Dec. 26, which was approved by the local election commission during a clarity hearing on Jan. 5. The petitions were then circulated and received the required number of signatures needed to hold a special election for the recall of the trustees.

“The recall wording is filed by a sponsor — the person asking for the recall — and within 24 hours we notify the officers being recalled and set a clarity hearing date,” Nowak explained. “The county election commission then makes sure the verbiage on the petition is factual, understandable and clear to the voter.”

Nowak said the number of signatures needed is determined by a district’s voter turnout in its last gubernatorial election, which in this case calculated to be 41 signatures for each recall petition.

“We’ll check the petitions once they’re turned in, to make sure that those who signed it are registered voters, in this case, in the Township of Arcadia,” Nowak said.

According to Arcadia Township resident Larry Olsen — the sponsor of the petitions — the driving force behind the recall was the trustees’ favorable votes to approve a forensic audit, following the township’s annual audit for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

While the township’s annual audit received a “clean” or unmodified opinion from Gabridge & Co., of Grand Rapids, the report listed several “significant deficiencies” or “material weaknesses” concerning the township’s internal controls.

While it’s not unusual for townships to receive these types of “deficiencies” in their audit, Arcadia’s listed more findings than in past years, which several township officials determined to be “red flags.”

Due to these concerns, the township board in October approved to hire certified public accountant Karl Haiser to perform a forensic audit. The approval was by a 4-1 vote, with township treasurer Debbra Eckhout dissenting.

After a months-long audit process, Haiser delivered his final report on Feb. 8 at the township board’s regular monthly meeting and, while highlighting concerns over the township’s internal controls and general handling of township funds, he concluded that no documentation pointing to fraud could be produced in his findings.

“There was no good reason for the forensic audit,” Olsen state, “and it was a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Another reason listed on each recall petition was the trustees’ favorable vote to approve a formal reprimand against treasurer Eckhout.

April 9 is the last day to register to vote for the May 8 election.


Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or

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