By Tom Tolen /

The second hearing on an attempt by a woman to recall two Brighton Board of Education members ended up with rejection of the petitions for a second time.

Brighton attorney Sarah Cross is attempting to have Trustees John Conely and Bill Trombley recalled from office for statements they have made and things they have done at board meetings.

At a hearing held on February 7th, the Livingston County Election Commission, composed of County Clerk Betsy Hundley, County Treasurer Jennifer Nash, and Probate Court Judge Miriam Cavanaugh, rejected her petition. Commission members said the petition and the language contained lacked clarity, and while the proposed petition made several contentions, they were not demonstrated to be factual, but rather, a matter of opinion.

As a result Cross made changes and resubmitted the proposed petition, resulting in Friday’s second hearing. In the revised petition language, Cross shortened the contentions about Conely, saying Conely should be recalled because, she contends, he compared mask mandates to actions by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. Conely has denied he said that.

In Conely’s case, the Election Commission rejected the petition language because part of it stated “sent-e-mail” which apparently wasn’t clear. However, Probate Court Judge Miriam Cavanaugh voted in favor of accepting the petition, saying it made perfect sense to her. But both County Clerk Betsy Hundley and County Treasurer Jennifer Nash said that the language was “not clear” and voted no, making the overall vote 2-1 to reject the language. In Conely’s case, Cross says she will now take the matter to the Livingston County Circuit Court, even though she could file for a third hearing with the election commission, saying, in her words, “I’m deeply committed to this; I feel it was denied wrongfully.”

For his part, Conely told WHMI that “Today was a good day, we prevailed.” Conely said what bothers him about all of the recall attempts floating around it that, “It’ll discourage people from running for office who want to serve,” adding that it could have a negative impact on his business. Conely owns a used car business.

Cross’s updated petition language on Trombley did not mention an incident last September in which Trombley allegedly coughed at a board meeting in the direction of woman, but instead, only states that Trombley admitted he doesn’t read his board packet in advance of meetings. However, in her re-worded petition language on Trombley, Cross got the wrong date and it was rejected out of hand on that basis. She told WHMI afterward that “It was a simple oversight,” stating that immediately after the hearing she changed the date to the correct 2021 and re-submitted it for yet another hearing to be scheduled.

Trombley said after the hearing that he believes “there is an ulterior motive and Cross is trying to gain publicity for her practice," adding that he wants “the people to have the choice of what’s best for their kids."

Cross has 10 days from Friday’s date in which to file an appeal with the circuit court.