One word knocks Hills incumbent off November ballot

Theresa Rich
Farmington Hills city council member Theresa Rich (Contributed)

Farmington Hills council member Theresa Rich, who filed to run for re-election in November, learned Tuesday that one word has knocked her name off the ballot.

In a required affidavit filed on April 17, Rich wrote the word “City” in an area that indicates the office sought. The absence of the word “Council,” Rich said, resulted in her disqualification.

“Yes, that was my mistake,” she wrote in a Tuesday night social media post. “All other lines were done correctly.”

Rich, who won her first council term four years ago, pointed out that someone wrote the words “Farmington Hills – council” in a space on the form designated for the City Clerk’s office use. “My lack of the word ‘Council’ was clearly not misleading to the (Farmington Hills) Clerk’s office…”

(We left a voice mail message Wednesday morning for City Clerk Pam Smith, hoping to confirm the information Rich provided and to ask some clarifying questions. As of Wednesday evening, the call had not been returned.)

Rich said she also received confirmation in April – three months before the July 23 filing deadline – that she had enough petition signatures to be on the ballot, and her name appeared on Oakland County’s online list of candidates. She received an email from the City Clerk after the filing deadline that confirmed she was on the ballot.

’Leaning toward the write-in campaign’

On August 9, Rich said, Smith called to inform her about the missing word on her affidavit – an error Rich could not fix, because the filing deadline had passed. Rich said Smith told her that the Oakland County Clerk’s office had discovered the error and let Smith decide how to handle it.

Rich said Smith told her she was working with the city attorney to decide how to handle it. On Tuesday at 5:15 p.m., Smith called to say her name was off the ballot.

Rich said she considered three options: mounting a legal challenge, which she felt would be prohibitively expensive and impractical because the election is so close; doing nothing; or launching a write-in campaign.

“Right now, I am leaning toward the write-in campaign because there is so much more I want to do to help my community,” she wrote.