Saginaw fire board questions eligibility of non-incumbent candidates

Published 11:17 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Members of the Saginaw Volunteer Fire Department’s board of directors during a June 30 meeting questioned the validity of the three non-incumbent candidates who have submitted petitions to run in a court-ordered July 12 election.

In early June, a judge ordered the department to hold the July 12 election after Corey Baginski, a captain at the fire department, sued the fire board, claiming a board election held in December 2010 was illegal.

When he filed the lawsuit, Baginski claimed the board, which was then composed of Joe Acker, J.D. King, Michael Minor, Steve Hall and Bob Picou, manipulated the election by inviting people to the polls to vote for them.

In his ruling, the judge reappointed Acker, King, Minor, Hall and Charles Seales to serve as an interim board until the election.

To qualify to run in the upcoming election, candidates were required to live in the department’s coverage area and submit a petition containing 10 signatures of registered voters who live in the coverage area by 3 p.m. June 30.

“Our deal is to make sure the individuals who are nominated and those who signed each petition or nominating forms do meet the requirements,” Acker said.

During the meeting, the board approved the nominations for Acker, King, Minor and Hall, but postponed voting on nominations for three candidates who will be running against them.

Ron Luebke submitted a petition to run for the at-large board’s place 2, Cliff Myers submitted a petition to run against Minor for place 3 and Paul Gray submitted a petition to run against King for place 4.

Minor said, according to Shelby County 911 records, Luebke does not reside in the Saginaw coverage area, and instead lives in Calera’s coverage area.

“By virtue of that, he is disqualified,” Minor said, noting if Luebke is not eligible to run, there will be no candidates for place 2.

“(Board attorney) Jim Pino didn’t know how to handle that. He asked us to give him a list of issues, and he would address them,” Minor added.

Minor said Myers lives in the Saginaw coverage area, but he said he was “unable to verify” the status of three people who signed Myers’ petition.

Minor also said he was unsure if Gray lives in the Saginaw coverage area, and questioned the status of five people who signed Gray’s petition.

The board will now mail certified letters to Gray, Myers and Luebke and ask the candidates to verify their eligibility and the eligibility of those who signed their petitions. The three candidates must then hand-deliver their responses to Pino by 3 p.m. on July 5.

The July 12 election will take place from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Saginaw Civic Center on Shelby County 26, and will be open to registered voters who live in the Saginaw coverage area and who currently pay dues.