Blasier target of recall effort
ESCANABA — After Escanaba City Council Member Ralph Blasier made joking comments about shooting violent protesters in a recent council meeting, recall petition language focusing on Blasier has been submitted to Delta County. A clarity hearing of the Delta County Election Commission will take place in the Delta County Probate Courtroom Monday, June 29, at 10 a.m.
On Thursday, June 4, Blasier read from a proposed press release on fireworks at Escanaba’s planned Independence Day celebration during a council meeting. While doing so, he made a joke referencing violent protests.
“‘Any person throwing objects at police, shooting at anyone, looting and setting fires will be shot in both legs and left lying there till dawn, and at dawn, each person will need to crawl to the hospital,'” Blasier read from his proposed press release. “I mean, this text for your public announcement, people might want to alter it some. This is just the first draft. If I were alone in charge of the city, this is what I would publish, but I can see where some people might, change it a little bit.”
Blasier issued a written apology for the statement the following day.
“During the June fourth City Council meeting, I made it clear that the fourth paragraph in my statement about fireworks on July 3 was intended as humor. Obviously, many people did not think it was as funny as I did. I apologize to anyone and everyone who was offended,” Blasier wrote.
“On the other hand, it is the same advice that presidential-candidate Biden gave two days earlier. I think that’s where I got the idea,” the statement concluded, referencing a June 2 comment made by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden while speaking to the African American Community Monday at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del. Biden suggested teaching cops being attacked by unarmed or knife-welding assailants to “shoot them in the leg instead of the heart.”
The recall petition language was submitted to the county on Tuesday and was sponsored by Escanaba resident Peter Gregoire. The language claims Blasier’s “violent and cruel implications and suggestions do not serve the best interests of Escanaba” before summarizing Blasier’s comments.
The election commission was required to schedule a clarity hearing between 10 and 20 days of receiving the submitted language. At the hearing, the commission will review the language and decide whether or not the petition should be allowed to go forward based on the language’s clarity. The hearing will be open to the public, and anyone will be allowed to address the commission.
If the language is approved by the commission, Gregoire would be allowed to begin circulating the petition. The number of signatures required for a recall — 1,218 signatures — would be equal to 25 percent of the turnout for the last gubernatorial election in Escanaba. The petition language would be valid for 180 days, and signatures would have to be submitted within 60 days of being received.
If the petition is successful, the county clerk would complete a preliminary review and forward it to the local clerk within seven days of its filing. Within 22 days after the petition is filed, the local clerk would complete registration checks. No later than the 30th day after the petition filing, Blasier would file challenges against petition signatures if he wished to do so. No later than the 35th day after the petition filing, the county clerk would determine whether the signatures on the petition are sufficient.
If there are sufficient valid signatures, a special recall election would be set for the next regular election date in May or November, based on when signatures are submitted. Once the recall election date is officially determined, there would be a 10-day window for candidates to file to run against Blasier.
If Blasier is recalled, he would leave office as soon as the Delta County Board of Canvassers certified the results of the election.
The process would end if the submitted language is not approved or if the petition is unsuccessful. If the wording is not approved, Gregoire or another sponsor would be able to submit new recall petition language to the county at any time.
However, new recall petition language regarding Blasier could not be submitted during his current term if residents of Escanaba vote on the recall and it is denied.