Recall petitions for Cottrellville Township officials approved

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

Recalls are moving forward against the supervisor and clerk of Cottrellville Township.

Supervisor Kelly Fiscelli and Clerk Lori Russelburg are facing recalls for “violating the Open Meetings Act on May 8, 2013,” according to the language of the approved petitions.

Two other petitions were filed against Russelburg, but were denied during Monday’s clarity hearing.

Cottrellville Township residents Barbara Basney and Tammy McGuire filed the recall against Fiscelli.

Township resident Robert Pfaff filed the approved recall against Russelburg.

Fiscelli and Russelburg have 10 days to appeal the commission’s decision.

About 300 signatures are needed on the petitions to move the recalls to the voters. St. Clair County Clerk Jay DeBoyer said the petitions are valid for the next 180 days, but the signatures must be collected in a 60-day window.

The recalls could make it onto the November or May 2016 ballot, he said.

Fiscelli said she doesn’t deserve to be recalled because the violation occurred two years ago.

“I was a little disappointed they are grasping at straws for something that happened two years ago,” she said. “I thought if that’s the only thing they have to complain about, then I must be doing a pretty good job.”

St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Michael West ruled in 2013 the township was in violation of the Open Meetings Act when it cut short the three-minute public comment period of a trustee and two members of the public.

Bob Seibert, who represented Cottrellville Township and township Supervisor Kelly Lisco, said in 2013 the judge found the violations to be technical violations.

Russelburg said she believes Pfaff’s recall petition has more to do with a personal grudge than any violations.

“I think the election commission did their due diligence,” she said. “However, the people who are doing the petition are in error. I am not a named defendant and was not found guilty.”

A second recall petition has been filed against Fiscelli.

Basney and McGuire filed a petition alleging Fiscelli failed to conduct an asbestos survey prior to the demolition of structures in the township, resulting in a fine by the Department of Environmental Quality. A clarity hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 29.

DeBoyer said there’s no limit on how many recall petitions can be filed against an official, but he or she can only be recalled once per term.

“Whichever one gets the signatures and is validated first would go on the ballot,” he said. “The other one would be considered null. You can only be subjected to be recalled once per term.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 13, 2015)

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