Birmingham Removes Boutros from Ballot, HP and Farmington Hills Candidates Weigh Options

Birmingham Removes Boutros from Ballot, HP and Farmington Hills Candidates Weigh Options

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 17, 2019)

Birmingham, Farmington Hills, Hazel Park, MI – Birmingham has removed Pierre Bourtros’ name from the Nov. 5, 2019 ballot after originally disagreeing with an Oakland County Clerk’s office letter stating that Bourtros should be disqualified.

Boutros was one of at least three candidates in local races in Oakland County that was disqualified based on issues with their Affidavit of Identity forms. In Farmington Hills and Hazel Park, administrators complied with the disqualification request. But not in Birmingham, at first at least.

In Birmingham the issue was with a question regarding campaign finance. Boutros checked the box stating that his filings were up to date, but Oakland County Elections Director Joe Rozell found they were not.  According to Downtown Magazine, there were 22 notices of error or omission notifications from Oakland County beginning in 2015.

Originally the City denied Rozell’s request not to certify Bourtros.  Birmingham City Manager Joe Valentine told Downtown that from the city’s standpoint, all of the election petitions from candidates, including Boutros’, have been certified because Birmingham statutory requirements have been followed, which are to make sure the heading is correctly filled out, the right number of signatures were collected and verified.

But after seeking out more advice, the City has changed it’s mind.

In a memo to Birmingham City Commission Friday, City Clerk Cherilynn Mynsberge wrote “Campaign finance is a function of the county and the state, not the local government. Further, the portion of the statute cited by Oakland County falls under a chapter in Michigan Election Law pertaining to primary elections. Because the City of Birmingham does not have a primary provision in its Charter I was concerned that the authority to disqualify a candidate from the ballot based on campaign finance issues did not reside with the local clerk. I sought clarification from Oakland County and from the City Attorney, and was not convinced the law spoke specifically to the local clerk having jurisdiction over campaign finance violations.

“Therefore I sought clarification from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, from the Bureau of Elections. This morning I received an email from the Election Liaison Division agreeing with Oakland County’s position.”

Boutros name on the Oakland County Clerk’s website is now marked as disqualified.

Also disqualified were Farmington Hills Councilperson Theresa Rich and Hazel Park Councilperson Bethany Holland, both of whom were seeking re-election in the Nov. 5 election.

Rich had mistakenly left off the word “council” after the word “city” on the line asking for position sought.  Holland had used an out-dated form.  Both said they are still weighing their potential legal options.

Rich said that she may be running as a write-in for Farmington Hills; Holland in Hazel Park said she definitely is.

For more on all three situations, check out our previous stories:

Disqualified Candidates Get Different Results in Birmingham, Farmington Hills, and Hazel Park (Aug. 15, 2019)

Hazel Park Councilperson Disqualified in Re-Election Attempt (Aug. 10, 2019)

More information:

Oakland County Clerk

Michigan Secretary of State

Oakland County Times Nov. 5, 2019 candidate interviews

Oakland County Times 2019 election news page

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