Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Jim’s Storey, to be continued

By Donald Talonen

On Wednesday morning of May 8th, the Allegan County Election Commission met to determine the fate of Jim Storey on the upcoming August 6th Republican Primary Election ballot. Jim Storey currently serves as the chairman of the Allegan County Board of Commissioners. Storey had submitted a letter on April 26th to remove his name from the primary ballot.
The commission has received a second request from Storey to be restored to the August 6th primary ballot. Storey withdrew from the race on April 26th and has since claimed in a separate letter to the commission on April 29th that he withdrew “under duress”.
The May 8th meeting was focused on answering these two conflicting requests. However, the three-member group, including Clerk Bob Genetski, Treasurer Sally Brooks, and chairman of the panel, 48th Circuit Court Probate Judge Mike Buck, decided to postpone their decision on the request to rescind the letter. The meeting was held in the courtroom of Judge Buck. No decisions were made at the meeting; the commission chose to review information and seek legal guidance instead.
Attorney Adam Tountas represented Storey on Wednesday. The first question before the commission, he said, was whether the election commission, in fact, had the authority to rule if Storey should be on the ballot.
The Michigan Secretary of State’s office has recently made a claim that a certain individual, Storey, allegedly failed to file campaign reports during his bid to secure a state House GOP primary nomination back in 2015. It should be noted that Storey lost to Mary Whiteford in the race to fill the seat left vacant by Cindy Gamrat’s expulsion earlier that year.
Genetski had notified Storey of this, and according to the commissioner, threatened to remove his name from the ballot if he did not submit a letter by a 4 PM deadline on the 26th. Storey has since stated that he has cleared up this matter with the Secretary of State’s office, and that his letter was written under duress and unwarranted time restrictions, and he was given no reasonable due process on the matter.
Attorney Adam Tountas, who represents Jim Storey said the Secretary of State’s Office’s opinion on Storey being removed from the ballot is non-binding and the election commission has authority to overrule that decision. He admitted Storey owes a report from a previous campaign.
Tountas also stated, “I understand the Secretary of State’s position is that Chairman Storey, because he owes one report in one instance for an unrelated committee, may not run for any other office, I don’t think their interpretation is binding, I don’t think it matters.”
Tountas informed the commission that Storey’s withdrawal wasn’t “effective” in the first place, because state election law doesn’t outline specific withdrawal procedures for county commissioners, despite outlining such procedures for other candidates.
During the meeting, Allegan County Administrator Rob Sarro expressed concern regarding due process and offered the commission to the county’s legal counsel.
A second meeting of the Allegan County Election Commission has been scheduled for this week to further discuss the ballot status of Board Chair Jim Storey. The group will meet again at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 16th, in the probate courtroom located at 113 Chestnut St. in Allegan.
In 2015, Jim Storey, a candidate for a vacant state House seat, faced a similar situation to the one we are currently experiencing. As per reports, it was discovered that he had an open campaign account with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, dating back to his failed 1982 state House bid to represent the eastern UP. Storey immediately contacted the Secretary of State and paid a fine of $2,500 for his mistake. He took full responsibility for his error and assured us that he would comply with the schedules outlined by the Secretary of State in the future.
History tends to repeat itself as reported by Gary Stevens in 2015, when Storey explained an error from a previous campaign in 1982 “When I learned of this situation, I immediately called the Secretary of State and discussed how best to proceed. It was agreed that I would amend the reports and pay a $2,500 fine, which I did this morning in Lansing, I take full responsibility for my mistake with that committee. I have taken appropriate steps to learn from this mistake and have retained professional assistance to ensure going forward the committee in my current campaign will fully comply with the schedules outlined by the Secretary of State.” The concern here is that his promise to learn from his mistake seems to have been forgotten.
The disqualification of Jim Storey from the District 1 ballot in Allegan County could have an impact on the upcoming election. If he is disqualified, his name will not appear on the ballot, leaving voters with fewer options. This could potentially change the dynamics of the race, giving the remaining candidate, Craig Van Beek, less competition. Disqualifications in local elections can happen for many reasons, such as violations of election laws, residency requirements, criminal convictions, campaign finance issues, or unrelated issues such as health problems.
Jim Storey was involved in another close race for the 2020 prosecutor elections where challenger Michael Villar requested a recount due to some concerns. During the recount, Koch and fellow Republican challenger Michael Villar each gained one vote each, resulting in a net gain of one vote each, keeping the margin of victory at 17 votes, according to Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski.
Storey is seeking re-election in District 1 for the Allegan County Board of Commissioners. He was elected to the board in 2012 and has been re-elected five times.
If Storey’s attempt to restore his name on the August 6th Primary ballot is successful, he will be challenged in the GOP primary by Craig Van Beek of Dorr for the nomination in the county board’s first district. Craig Van Beek, a pastor, and president of the Hamilton Board of Education is running as a Republican. No Democrat has filed to run in the primary.

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