Troy resident Leonard Malkin with Recall Janice Daniels group co-founder John Kulesz waiting for results Nov. 6. BTL photo: Kate Opalewski

The Recall of Antigay Troy Mayor Janice Daniels

By Kate Opalewski

Troy Mayor Janice Daniels has been recalled. The Tea Party favorite will be forced out of office after one year by a 52.2 (20,763 votes) to 47.8 (18,993 votes) percent margin, according to the Oakland County Clerk with all 31 precincts reporting.

"I'm elated, over the moon," said Recall Janice Daniels co-founder John Kulesz, who began Election Day at 6:30 a.m. to visit with Troy residents and communicate with more than 100 recall volunteers spread out at 18 different polling locations in Troy. "It's amazing to do something that the majority of the people of Troy responded to in such a positive way."

The recall campaign, said Kulesz, raised $18,000 with 85 percent coming from Troy residents and people with connections to the city. Nearly 9,000 valid signatures were collected to make this recall happen. Regardless of long lines and a few hiccups at the polls, eager voters waited patiently to cast their ballots on Tuesday. Leonard Malkin, a resident of Troy since 1973, stood in the cold for an hour at St. Anastasia Church holding his "Vote 'Yes!' to Recall Mayor Janice Daniels" sign.

"The mayor doesn't belong in office. I'm sure she's a nice person, but this is the wrong position for her," said Malkin, adding that Daniels is a "nincompoop," just as Sarah Palin was called in 2010 by Peggy Noonan, conservative columnist and former Ronald Reagan speechwriter. "She does not respect people and their opinions. She's her own worst enemy," he said.

Across the way, outside in the church parking lot, Daniels' supporters did their best to rally on her behalf. At their request, because one in particular did not want her name published in an LGBT publication, they spoke anonymously about the recall election. Daniels' was referred to as a "lovely person" who is being "crucified." Her supporters agree her Facebook posting months before she took office was inappropriate, but is not reason enough to recall a "woman who loves everybody."

Daniels stood in front of the First Presbyterian Church in the early morning on Nov. 6 still hopeful and confident, fighting for her political survival. She has avoided the media recently and continued to do so throughout Election Day. Daniels did say that she has broken no laws and voters are more upset with her contentious style than her actual views.

The majority disagrees. Mayor Daniels has been the center of controversy since she took office in November of 2011. Her anti-gay Facebook comment garnered national attention. She later told the Troy High School Gay-Straight Alliance that she would bring in an expert to tell them the homosexual lifestyle is "dangerous" and compared the dangers of homosexuality to the dangers of cigarette smoking. The recall also points to Daniels' negative statements about other city employees and her vote against a proposed transit center backed by millions of federal funding. More recently, Daniels engaged in an argument last month with 2012 Troy Distinguished Citizen Mary Kerwin while presenting her with a proclamation.

"We're so happy that the people of Troy have realized that Janice is not the best person to represent them, and that Troy can and will do better," said Recall Janice Daniels co-founder Matt Binkowski.

Recall volunteers celebrated Tuesday night at Joe Kool's in Troy. Audrey Touchette, a resident of Troy for 22 years and board member of PFLAG in Detroit, said she did her part as the mother of her gay son. "I can't believe this started a year ago. I attended council meetings and put up signs. To realize I can make a difference is an amazing thing. I was so anxious all day awaiting these results. We crossed party lines to make this happen. My son said to me 'If I wasn't out then, I am now' about coming out and feeling supported. It's a good day for Troy," she said.

Party-goers were joined by former Troy Mayor Louise Schilling who challenged and lost to Republican incumbent Robert Gosselin in the race for 11th District County Commissioner. Schilling was accompanied by Mary Kerwin, the Democratic candidate for Michigan House District 41, who lost the race to Republican candidate Martin Howrylak. Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey, the openly gay former mayor of Ferndale, made an appearance as well. Covey helped raise $1,000 and has been rallying for months on Facebook in support of the recall.

"Folks in Troy have been appreciative of outside help, but this tremendous victory belongs to them. People across the country have been watching the race. This shows that even in a conservative city like Troy, extremism isn't going to work. When we win in places that are red, the victory is even sweeter," said Covey.

Members of the Troy City Council - Councilman Jim Campbell, Councilman Dane Slater, and Mayor Pro Tem Maureen McGinnis - were also in attendance.

"I am confident that we will be able to work together as a council to accomplish this, to create a smooth transition into the city's next chapter," said McGinnis. "I know there will be a significant number of people in the community that may not be happy with the results of the election. I am hopeful that everyone, regardless of how they voted on the recall issue, will support the council as we welcome a new city manager, choose a new mayor and work together to move the community forward."

Campbell agreed. "We're going to put all this stuff behind us and start thinking about the citizens instead of the ideology of Mayor Daniels." He added that he has no doubt Daniels will show up on the other side of the podium at an upcoming council meeting. "I bet money on it. She will have three minutes to spew. At least then I can shut her up."

Daniels was still talking during a Wednesday morning interview on the Charlie Langton Talk Radio 1270 show. She said "I'm very sad about it, but the results are in and I want to thank my supporters for all the hard work that they did to try to forestall this. A chapter of my life has closed, but I'll open another chapter and I'll be fine."

Daniels also mentioned the lack of a "balance media" that would have reported all the good she did as mayor of Troy. "We don't have a media that's fair. It's been very biased against me since the beginning. The people deserve balance in the media. That's what I regret is that we don't have a balance media."

At the end of the interview, Daniels said, "I'm not going to go away, and I'm not going to move out of town."

What People Are Saying On Facebook

On the Support Troy Mayor Janice Daniels Facebook page, a recent post states: "Our deepest gratitude to our outgoing Troy Mayor Janice Daniels. You are a brave warrior for all that is right with our Republic."

The Facebook posts on the Recall Janice Daniels page are endless. Forrest Sandi said, "Hey Janice, remember me from the meeting that night? Yeah, you owe my gay ass a big smooch."

Chuck Hoover said, "Our avoidance of Troy business can end."

Joe Kort said, "You did a wonderful job with this recall and deserve a huge thank you."

Troy High School GSA student Zach Kilgore said, "Congratulations. Troy's good name has been restored and I can't thank you enough for all your hard work."

Daniel Herrle said, "I think I am going to throw away my 'I Love Daniels' carrying bag now that homophobes can't be mayors here."

What Happens Next?

"The council has not had any formal discussion on what they planned to do in the event the recall was approved by the voters," said McGinnis. "Our city attorney and city clerk have provided a generic outline of what they believe the process should be and it was distributed to council and the public before the election."

McGinnis explained that if and when the vote is certified, she will immediately step in as the acting mayor, as is the duty of the Mayor Pro Tem.

"My term as Mayor Pro Tem is scheduled to end on Monday at our council meeting. At that time, the next person that is selected to serve as Mayor Pro Tem would step in as Acting Mayor until the council appoints someone to serve as the Mayor until the next election," she said. The City Charter states that council will designate a new Mayor Pro Tem each year in November with Slater scheduled to serve next. Unless the council votes to amend its Rules of Procedure, which are up for annual review on Monday, Slater will take over as Mayor Pro Tem and be sworn in as Acting Mayor of Troy during Monday's meeting.

According to Troy City Clerk Aileen Bittner, the Oakland County Board of Canvassers is set to convene at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to begin certifying election results.

The council will have until Dec. 11 to appoint a mayor, who will serve until the Nov. 5 2013 regular city election, when a new mayor will be elected. On Nov. 11, 2013, the new mayor and council members will be sworn into office.

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