Fee dispute keeping vice mayor off Kalamazoo mayor ballot

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A dispute over unpaid fees is keeping Kalamazoo Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin off the ballot for mayor in November.

In a letter dated Friday, Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling told Griffin that under state law, she wouldn’t appear on the ballot because she signed an affidavit stating she had paid all fees and fines. At the time she signed the document, her campaign finance committee owed $500 in unpaid fees.

In the letter, Borling said this meant Griffin made a false statement about her financial obligations, disqualifying her from appearing on the November ballot.

In a Facebook video posted Sunday, Griffin said she was not aware of the $500 when she signed the affidavit. Griffin said when she was notified of the $500 balance, she paid it. She noted she is not ending her campaign and actively working to resolve the issue.

Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling says that there is “no administrative remedy” to get Griffin’s name back on the ballot.

“The issue at hand is that the candidates made a ‘false statement’ (this is the language of the statute) when they signed the Affidavit of Identity, claiming to have no campaign finance obligations, when in fact they did have outstanding campaign finance obligations,” Borling told News 8. “Even if the obligations are addressed and remedied after the fact, the act of making that statement occurred.”

However, Borling said, Griffin can still run as a write-in candidate.

Griffin was elected to the Kalamazoo City Commission in 2019 for a four-year term. As the highest vote-getter in that election, she was chosen as vice mayor.

Under city charter, there is a provision that a commissioner whose term is not up at the time of a mayoral election must resign their commissioner seat before the filing deadline in order to be eligible to run for mayor. Last month, Griffin turned her resignation to the clerk’s office so she could run for mayor. She will continue to serve as vice mayor until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 1.

At the filing deadline on July 20, Griffin and Benjamin Stanley had both turned in enough signatures to challenge incumbent Mayor David Anderson on the November ballot.

Stanley ran for city commission in 2019 and Kalamazoo County District 1 commissioner in 2020.

Election officials say Jason Morris, who was running for city commission, also may not appear on the ballot because of a “false statement” on his affidavit — he had outstanding fees and outstanding reports. He may also run as a write-in candidate.

—News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.

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