Flint, MI– Recall language filed against Mayor Sheldon Neeley was rejected by the election commission yesterday. 

The language, filed by local activist Arthur Woodson, was about the mayor having not yet held a State of the City Address.

“Mayor Sheldon A. Neeley did not comply with Section 4-103, as cited in the new city charter adopted by voters Aug. 7, 2017 became effective Jan. 1, 2018, at least once a year the mayor shall present the State of the City Address to the City Council and to the public at large.”

Genesee County Chief Probate Judge Jennie Barkey, chairwoman of the commission, made the motion not to approve the language, and said that it was unclear.

“It doesn’t say in what way he actually violated Section 4-103,” Barkey said. 

Woodson said Neeley violated that section because it has been more than one year since he was sworn into office on Nov. 11, 2019. 

Attorney Hayman, who spoke on behalf of the mayor, argued that Neeley had “until the end of the year to make that address.” 

Neeley announced last week that his State of the City Address will take place Dec. 8. 

“Nowhere in the charter does it state a calendar year,” Woodson said.

After the meeting, Woodson said the measure of a year should be the same across the charter.  He said the charter dictates that people can only file recall language after the mayor’s first year is complete, which in this case means Nov. 11, 2020. He feels that since that date marks the end of a year in one circumstance, it should mark the end of a year for the section about the State of the City Address. 

Woodson said he wasn’t surprised the election commission did not approve his language.

“I knew there was gonna be some trickery,” he said, and called Judge Barkey’s response to the language “vague.”

“She didn’t want to tell me what was actually wrong with the language,” Woodson said.

Neeley released the following statement regarding the election commission’s rejection of the language:

“We are doing good work and we will continue to do good work on behalf of the residents of Flint. We will not allow willful attempts to distract us impact the good work we are doing. Our community, in this time of crisis, should be above petty politics and personal agendas. We will remain focused on saving lives and providing the best service possible to all residents.” 

Woodson called the mayor’s statement “petty.”

“People have to understand that this is a tool given to the people, to try to hold our elected officials accountable,” he said. “A real mayor wouldn’t stoop down and take a shot at the citizens.”

Woodson said he may file new recall language against the mayor soon.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...