Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Election Commission keeps Storey off of ballot

By Donald Talonen

On Thursday May 17, 2024, the Allegan County Election Commission, in a unanimous 3-0 decision, determined that it lacks the authority to consider or act upon a request made by the current County Board Chair, Jim Storey. Storey is vying for re-election in District 1 for the Allegan County Board of Commissioners.
Storey initially filed for re-election on April 23, 2024, but withdrew his candidacy days later on April 29, 2024, after being told by County Clerk Bob Genetski that the state directed him that Storey be disqualified from the ballot. Genetski received a communication from Mark Diljak of the Michigan Bureau of Elections on April 24th, 2024, alleging that Jim Storey still owes six campaign statements from 2022-2024. The e-mail advised that the reports must be filed before Jim Storey would be eligible to run for another office in Michigan.
Judge Michael Buck explained that the commission does not have supervisory or appellate authority over the Allegan County Clerk or the Michigan Secretary of State, who are the election officials responsible for candidate eligibility. As a result, the Allegan County Election Commission has determined that it does not have the authority to address candidate eligibility and will not pursue the issue any further. Members Genetski and Brooks supported Buck’s decisions.
Hatchett v. Pontiac City Election Comm’n, No. 357434, 2021 Mich. App. LEXIS 3617 (Ct. App. June 11, 2021), was a case from 2021 cited by Judge Buck in which the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled an election commission did not have authority to add a candidate to the ballot. Attorney General Dana Nessel’s related opinion from 2023, also factored into his decision.
Storey said Thursday that he kept up with the reports for years, but eventually stopped. He also said he’s tried to dissolve the committee in the past, so he wouldn’t have to file the reports.
In a letter to the editor of the Allegan County News from May 16, Joyce Watts exlplains the importance of the reports when she wrote that “By law, the County Clerk must declare his filing invalid because he did not possess the qualifications to become a candidate by the filing deadline.” Joyce continued with clarification that “He had paid his outstanding fines, but he did not file the required reports with the Secretary of State.” The letter from the former Clerk appears to support the claim that Clerk was left without a choice in Storey’s removal from the ballot.
Although the commission ultimately determined that they have “no authority” on the matter of Jim’s inclusion on the ballot, Storey has a different opinion as he expressed his intention to continue his campaign, with the belief that the “core issue” is the involvement of state bureaucrats and the county clerk in deciding who is elected. He mentioned that he does not plan to pursue the matter in court to avoid unnecessary expenses for the taxpayers.
Storey was elected to the board in 2012 and has been re-elected five times since. Storey is not without options and might consider campaigning as a write-in candidate or other possible alternatives, but he has not yet announced a decision. Time will tell if this is the end of Jim’s Storey in his quest for reelection.
Craig Van Beek is the only candidate, and he is running as Republican. Craig Van Beek is a pastor and currently serves as president of the Hamilton Board of Education.

Leave a Reply