CLERK DELAYS VOTE TO BLOCK CHALLENGER
By T. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — D.Etta Wilcoxon is hanging like a chad on a Florida ballot.
A candidate for city clerk, Wilcoxon is meeting continued resistance from incumbent Janice Winfrey to remain a viable candidate.
Winfrey fought unsuccessfully before Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard to keep Wilcoxon off of the Aug. 6 primary ballot.
Fresard ruled June 28 that Wilcoxon had the necessary signatures to remain on the ballot and ordered the clerk to put Wilcoxon on the ballot.
Winfrey, who removed Wilcoxon from the ballot in May, immediately filed an appeal.
On July 9, the Appeals Court took under consideration the briefs, while denying two motions Winfrey filed.
Winfrey asked the Appeals Court to stay Fresard’s decision; it denied the motion. She asked the court to reverse Fresard’s ruling; it denied the motion.
“Janice Winfrey is using the city law department like her personal attorney and the city coffers like her personal piggy bank” to keep her job, Wilcoxon said July 10 in a phone interview.
She added that Judge Fresard took one week, from Thursday to Thursday, to examine the facts and the law before her ruling.
Her attorney believes Winfrey is trying to save her job by keeping Wilcoxon off the ballot.
“Winfrey is trying to get her competition out of the race,” said Attorney Todd Perkins, speaking on the Mildred Gaddis show, AM 1200, July 10.
It was “let the voters decide” when Winfrey argued to keep Mike Duggan on the ballot after mayoral candidate Tom Barrow sued to have him removed for not meeting filing deadlines. Yet, when it comes to her position, she doesn’t want to give voters that choice, Perkins said.
Wilcoxon said when she received notice in June from the Election Department that she was short 25 names to qualify for a place on the ballot, she and WHPR talk show host Richard Hairston went to the Election Department on the Boulevard and spent five days comparing the voter database with the master file, the voter files.
They found 27 people, who the clerk had disqualified on Wilcoxon’s petition, yet were in the clerk’s own register of certified voters.
“The court admonished Winfrey,” Wilcoxon said. Judge Fresard told Winfrey that the first day of trial, Winfrey conceded 10 signatures were valid that she had previously ruled invalid; then the second day, five more, then four more the next. “You have not done your job,” Wilcoxon said Judge Fresard told Winfrey.
Daniel Baxter, director of the Detroit Department of Elections, and 13 staff members were present in Fresard’s courtroom during the weeklong trial, Wilcoxon said. “Who was running the Department of Elections?”
Absentee ballots have not yet been sent out. Winfrey’s attorneys argued before Fresard that state law required the clerk to mail the absentee ballots by June 22. A clerk at Elections said July 10 that the election workers “hoped to get the ballots out Saturday (July 13).”
For now, Wilcoxon is on the ballot. All parties are awaiting the Court of Appeals ruling. Wilcoxon wants to know: If the court keeps her on the ballot, will Winfrey appeal again?
No phone calls to Baxter or Winfrey’s offices were returned by press time.