By Tom Tolen /

Meeting Tuesday at the historic Livingston County Court house in Howell, the 3-member County Election Commission has rejected the language of proposed recall petitions against two Brighton Area Schools Board of Education members. At the conclusion of the hearing the commission unanimously rejected the petition language submitted by a Brighton Area Schools parent against Board of Education Trustees John Conely and Bill Trombley.

The petitioner seeking to recall the two board members is Sarah Cross, a local attorney and parent of a Brighton High School student. Despite the rejection, Cross tells WHMI she is proceeding with her recall effort, saying, "I’m not discouraged at all, and I fully intend to resubmit the petitions."

The commission is composed of Probate Court Judge Miriam Cavanaugh, County Clerk Elizabeth Hundley and County Treasurer Jennifer Nash. The hearing was held solely to determine whether the language contained within the petitions is clear and factual. The attorneys for Conely and Trombley - Dale Schaller representing Conely and Dan Wholihan acting as counsel for Trombley - were present at the hearing and stated that the language in the proposed petitions is based on opinions, rather than factual data, is too broad, and lacks clarity.

In the proposed petition language, Trombley is accused of coughing while a citizen was addressing the board at the Sept. 27th meeting and, later in the meeting, coughing in her direction while he was leaving. Also in the petition language, Cross states that Trombley accused three board members of “intentionally hiding policy changes and trying to sneak policy changes past the board,” while admitting he did not read board packets,“and therefore was not prepared for board meetings.” However, commission members said Tuesday that while those were accusations, it did not necessarily make them factual.

Cross has said the petition wording cites two reasons to recall Conely: for comparing efforts in support of a mask mandate in schools to the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler and for presenting a slide show at a December board meeting “created with the help of an outside group (in which he) failed to disclose or acknowledge what group created the slideshow.” However, commission members said it was not his responsibility to identify the group that originated the slide presentation.

Cross vows to revise her petition language and resubmit it to the election commission, saying she "learned a lot about how the process works" at Tuesday's hearing.

If the language is determined at that time to be factual and sufficiently clear, Hundley has stated that a minimum of 5,472 signatures from registered voters who reside within the Brighton Area Schools district will be required. The recall language is valid for 180 days from the date the language is approved by the election commission. While signatures on a petition form are valid for 60 days, those collected earlier than 60 days before the petition form is filed with the county clerk’s office are automatically invalidated.

Clerk Hundly told WHMI that Cross has another option to file an appeal at the circuit court within 10 days.