Bronson Council bucks putting issue on September ballot

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By Mark Scohier

Early voting seems to be an issue that won’t die in Bronson, though it’s only gasping for breath in the hands of three out of five Bronson Town Council members.

In recent weeks, Bronson Mayor Franklin Schuler and council members Aaron Edmondson and Beatrice Roberts have twice stymied efforts by Vice Mayor Berlon Weeks and Council Member Jason Kennedy to hold early voting in the town’s upcoming September election.

Weeks and Kennedy both say the move would increase voter turnout, though, in short, the other council members disagree and say the cost would outweigh the benefit.

But two separate decisions against early voting have not deterred Weeks, who started a Facebook campaign shortly after the first decision and also successfully collected more than 75 signatures in the span of a few days to have an early voting amendment to the town charter put on this election’s ballot.

Schuler, Edmondson and Roberts shot the proposal down at Monday night’s council meeting, voting instead to have it placed on a later special election ballot.

“How much does a special election cost?” Kennedy asked during the discussion, later explaining that putting it on this upcoming general election ballot would be the cheapest thing to do.

“We’re not worried about what early voting costs,” Shuler said, contradicting explanations he made against the move at the council’s last meeting on the matter.

Roberts said she wasn’t happy with the way Weeks went about collecting signatures for the petition.

“I, personally, feel like it was done underhanded,” she said, adding that Weeks shouldn’t have just gotten “a handful here and a handful there.” She told Weeks he should have gone to everyone in the town. “You didn’t go to everybody.”

“I didn’t have to,” Weeks reminder her, explaining it would have been a waste of time to collect more than the 75 signatures needed. “I didn’t have to go to everybody.”

A woman from the audience said she was unclear why the amendment couldn’t be placed on the ballot. “It’s up to the voters to read the ballot,” she said.

Bronson ex-mayor Jamie Griffin, who is also a candidate running against Roberts, said he was unclear as to why it couldn’t be placed on the upcoming ballot either, especially when it was clear that at least 10 percent of the citizens required for such a move wanted it there. 

“Do you think more people don’t want it than do?” he asked.

“It’s not feasible … to even put the petition on the ballot,” Edmondson said, offering no explanation as to why other than the issue being something Weeks put in place to have him and Roberts voted out of office.  Weeks, he said, would “go to any extent.”

Town Clerk Kelli Brettel said one of the advantages of holding a special election would be that, other than the issue of early voting, antiquated rules in the town charter could be addressed and amended.

Candidate Sandy Moseley, also running against Roberts, asked, “Do you really think people are going to come out for a special election?”

“How do you know?” Schuler shot back. “Are you a fortune teller?”

Weeks asked about the timeline for a special election based on amendment changes.

“So, indefinitely, until we come up with some amendment changes, yeah?” he asked.

“Yeah,” several responded.

“Oh, that’s good to know.”