Flint, MI– Flint City Councilman Eric Mays is suing his fellow council members following an April vote to remove him as president.
On June 6, 2022, Mays filed a complaint in 7th Circuit Court for an expedited injunction under the Open Meetings Act and the Flint City Charter.
He said he believes the vote to remove him as president was “not done procedurally right.”
The council first elected Mays as president on Nov. 15, 2021. Less than six months later, the council voted on April 11, 2022, to remove him, citing behavior that violated council rules. Six council members voted in favor of removing Mays.
Flint City Council Vice President Allie Herkenroder, Councilwoman Ladel Lewis, Councilman Quincy Murphy, Councilwoman Judy Priestley, Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer, and Councilwoman Eva Worthing voted in favor of his removal. Councilwoman Tonya Burns abstained. Mays and Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter were not present.
During the April 11 meeting, the council voted to suspend their rules, which resulted in Mays and other council members speaking over each other. While the majority of council discussed recessing the meeting, Mays declared the meeting adjourned and left.
The members that had recessed for five minutes reconvened the meeting and proceeded to vote six in favor, with one abstention, to remove Mays from his position as president.
At the next council meeting on April 20, Mays said he believed the vote had been an “illegal proceeding,” and warned he’d be taking his colleagues to court.
He said his argument comes from section 1-603 of the Flint City Charter, which deals with “forfeiture and removal for cause.”
The first point in this section states that aside from the Ombudsperson, the City Council “shall declare the forfeiture of the office of any elective officer or appointee and may remove for cause any person appointed to an office for a fixed term.”
“In every case, there shall be a public hearing before the City Council with public notice published in the manner set forth in this Charter,” the section states.
Mays said he believes he was entitled to a public hearing under that section, but during the meeting on April 11, City Attorney William Kim said this was a misinterpretation of the charter.
“The provisions you were talking about for removing somebody from office are applicable to removing somebody from their elected office as elected by the voters of the city of Flint,” Kim said. “It has nothing to do with internal discipline or internal organization of the city council.”
Murphy had asked Kim if they should be concerned about potential litigation, but Kim said he wasn’t worried.
“Any person can file a lawsuit over anything. It’s my legal opinion that a lawsuit to try to challenge the removal at this stage would be futile,” Kim said.
Mays’ case has been assigned to Judge Celeste Bell.