Judge denies Farmington Hills council member’s ballot appeal

After an expedited hearing Thursday, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren denied Farmington Hills city council member Theresa Rich’s bid to get her name back on the November ballot.

And while the first-term official said in a Friday social media post that she hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll appeal, her write-in campaign is underway.

Farmington Hills City Clerk Pam Smith notified Rich earlier this month that her name had been removed because of an error on a required affidavit that Rich filed on April 17.

Rich was told on August 9 that Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown’s office caught the error – writing the word “city” rather than “city council” to identify the office sought  – and was letting Smith decide how to handle it. On August 13, Smith notified Rich that her name was off the ballot.

During a Monday Farmington Hills city council meeting, residents spoke on Rich’s behalf and said Smith’s decision disenfranchised voters.

“Anyone could plainly see what race she was intending to run for,” Nomi Joyrich said, adding that she signed Rich’s petition and urged others to do so. “If there is ever an error to be made it should always be made in favor of giving citizens the maximum opportunity to express their voice.“

While they objected to Smith’s decision, some residents said they support her.

“I also want to give Pam smith a vote of confidence,” Khaya Davidson said. “She does her job very conscientiously… I hope that this can be made right.”

Mary Newlin, whose is also running for a council seat, said candidates are on the ballot “because we show love for our community. Theresa does that. She’s an inspiration for why I am on the ballot.”

City attorney Steve Joppich said officials could not respond to comments because of the lawsuit. He pointed out that officials cannot take a candidate’s personal qualifications into account when dealing with election law.

“Our state generally is a state of strict compliance (with election laws),” he said. “Election officials don’t have the discretion to consider such things as fairness.”

Oakland County Times covered Thursday’s hearing and provides a detailed report: Judge Rules Farmington Hills Candidate’s Disqualification Stands