THE TRANSITION  FROM APPOINTED TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR  TO ELECTED SUPERVISOR

Gerald Fisher, Supervisor

Gerald Fisher

When a township supervisor resigns in the middle of her or his term, Michigan law provides the road map for providing a replacement. The township board is given a limited amount of time to appoint a successor, which is what happened here in Independence Township toward the end of 2021. The person appointed becomes the supervisor, and remains in office until 12 p.m. on November 20, 2022 following the general election.

Some folks may ask: since the appointed person did not receive a sufficient number of votes in the primary election to become the elected supervisor, why wait until November for a transfer of power? This is a great question. There are legal issues involved, and there are practical issues. The legal issues are pretty easy. One point is that, even though all the candidates at the primary election were in one party, a person could file as a write-in candidate for the general election in November. So, while some may think the election is over at this point, as a matter of law, it is not. That’s why state law dictates that the appointed supervisor “shall hold office” until November. The second legal point is that the person who received the most votes in the recent primary would need to get enough votes by Township Board members to be appointed supervisor until November. In this case, the person who won the primary had previously applied to be appointed in 2021, but there weren’t enough votes on the Board to make the appointment. The person in question may not wish to relive that uncomfortable experience.

Of equal importance, there are practical issues. This would deal with the particular person appointed supervisor – in this case that would be me. As already mentioned, when the past supervisor resigned, several individuals put their name in for appointment. I was not one of those people. The Township Board tried to make an appointment of one of those who had applied, but there weren’t enough votes for any of them. At that point, considering that I had been the Township Attorney for 25 years and familiar with the township supervisor position, I was asked if I would accept the appointment, just until November 20, 2022. Of course, I was honored by the interest in me for this purpose, and doubly so when I received the unanimous vote of confidence by the Board. But to accept the position, I had to stop doing some of the things that provided income for my family until November 20, 2022. Fast-forwarding to the present, it would not be feasible to simply undo the rearrangement of my life in a matter of a few days. Having until November was the expected transition to the next steps in my life.

There is an additional important factor to consider. Nobody could predict the outcome of the primary election. From the time of my appointment in 2021 until now, I have thrown myself into the supervisor position, and have pursued several initiatives. These have included such things as undertaking a badly needed upgrade of the Dixie Highway Corridor, and earnestly attempting to find a solution to the serious need for neighborhood road improvement funding. Because of my background as a local government attorney for many years and having been chairperson of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission for ten years, I have acquired a unique ability to pursue funding and find solutions for these important projects. Unfortunately, I will not be able to complete these projects, but I am hoping to move them forward to the point that they have a greater likelihood of succeeding than if I simply walked away from them at this point.

Serving as Township Supervisor has been a meaningful experience for me, and I intend to leave the community in a better position than when I took office at the end of 2021.