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Judge allows four Flint mayoral candidates to appear on August primary ballot

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A judge has decided to ignore mistakes made by some of the four Flint mayoral candidates and allow all of them to appear on the August primary ballot.

The candidates filed legal briefs last week defending each of their positions to be on the ballot, while also raising questions about their opponents. The conflicting legal claims opened the possibility that one or all four candidates would be dropped from the ballot, forcing them to run write-in campaigns.

“Why is this any of my business?” asked Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah at the start of Monday’s hearing. And by the end of the two hour hearing, he effectively decided it wasn’t.

Initially, City Clerk Inez Brown certified the paperwork for incumbent Mayor Karen Weaver, State Rep. Sheldon Neeley, businessman Don Pfeiffer, and candidate Gregory Eason.

But questions were quickly raised about Eason’s paperwork. In his affidavit, Eason answered "no" to three questions, including whether he was qualified to be mayor. He later changed those answers.

Eason says he is grateful Judge Farah will allow him a place on the ballot.

“I’m ready to fight for the city,” Eason said after the hearing. “I’m going to give it everything I have to fight to show that I am qualified.”

A temporary restraining order had prevented the Genesee County Clerk from getting ballots printed, not just in Flint, but across the county. The deadline to get the ballots printed in time to meet state laws concerning overseas and absentee voters is Tuesday. With the judge’s ruling on Monday, Clerk John Gleason can now move forward with printing the ballots.

“I’m very grateful for the judge to expedite this and move it forward,” says Gleason.

Gleason does feel Judge Farah was wrong to allow Eason a spot on the ballot. But the decision does vindicate City Clerk Inez Brown who approved the paperwork for all four candidates.

“We’re adhering to the law. We’ll continue to do so,” says Brown. “We also believe in fairness, no matter who's running.”

The judge’s ruling may not be the final word.

Candidate Don Pfeiffer, who brought the original lawsuit, left the courtroom after the ruling without talking to reporters. His attorney declined to say if his client plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.