By Tom Tolen /

A petition asking for the recall of a Brighton school board member filed by a local attorney has been approved on the third try.

On Monday, the 3-member Livingston County Election Commission approved the petition language directed at Brighton Area Schools Board of Education Trustee Bill Trombley as sufficiently clear. Petitioner Sarah Cross told WHMI, “It’s a good day,” after the hearing. Trombley is the subject of the attempted recall vote because, as Cross put it, he admitted at a board meeting that he did not read his board packet.

A minimum of 5,472 signatures from registered voters who live within the Brighton Area Schools district boundaries will be required to force a recall election. The language is valid for 180 days from Monday - the date the language was approved by the election commission. But while signatures on a petition form are valid for 60 days, those collected earlier than 60 days before the petition form was filed with the county clerk’s office are automatically invalidated. Cross feels she has a good chance of gathering enough petition signatures by the deadline in order to set the date for a recall election.

The petition on Trombley was initially rejected because commission members said it was too complicated, subject to conjecture as opposed to fact, and lacked clarity. The second time it was rejected because of an error in the date, which incorrectly stated that Trombley's comments occurred at a board meeting on Sept. 27, 2020. In reality, the date was Sept. 27, 2021.

In a separate action Monday, Cross filed an appeal with Livingston County Circuit Court regarding the County Election Commission’s March 4th rejection of the language in her petition against Board Trustee John Conely. The merits of the case will be heard by Chief Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Hatty. Since Cross did not request that oral arguments be heard in the matter, no date for a determination by Judge Hatty has been set in regard to the appeal. Cross said she is required to notify all parties involved in the case of the appeal, including the election commission, Conely and his attorney.

For his part, Trombley told WHMI all a person has to do is look at his list of accomplishments to know that he is a valuable member of the board. Trombley was the chair of the 2012 bond committee, whose efforts helped to pass an $89 million bond issue. Trombley adds that in the past he has served as vice president and treasurer of the school board as well as trustee. Trombley maintains that the old board on which he served got the district out of debt and that his expertise in the construction industry has served him well, saying he has “been in the construction and building industry — involving schools — for 35 years." Trombley is also the board's longest serving member, having been elected in 2011 to his first term and being reelected to two succeeding four-year terms, with the current term set to expire in December of 2024. He has a daughter who graduated from BHS last year and is now attending college and a son who is a BHS junior.