Effort underway to recall Spring Lake president

Spring Lake Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton
Spring Lake Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton. (July 19, 2017)


SPRING LAKE, Mich. (WOOD) — The village of Spring Lake could be getting a new president.

There’s now a petition to recall the sitting president and one of the reasons is related to the Holocaust.

Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton made reference to the Holocaust when disputing a village parking ordinance.

“It upsets me because there’s just no way that a piece of paper could somehow be compared to what happened there and the terrible things and atrocities that happened there,” village resident Michelle Hanks said.

Hanks said she felt obligated to take action.

“I was frustrated before I read the comments about the Holocaust and that really upset me,” she said, “and then I start asking questions like, ‘What can I do about this?'”

That’s when she learned about the procedure to recall the village president. Hanks drafted a petition and Wednesday, the language was approved by the Ottawa County Election Commission in a 2-1 vote. It’s the first step in getting rid of Hatton.

24 Hour News 8 asked Hatton if she is concerned about being recalled.

“No,” she replied. “I think it’s up to the people. If they want me to lose my position, I think I should.”

Spring Lake Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton
Spring Lake Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton. (July 19, 2017)

Hatton admitted she referenced the Holocaust while disputing a parking ordinance a village commission meeting, but added that it was not meant to be insensitive and instead was supposed to be educational.

“The first thing they took away from the Jews in Nazi Germany in 1935, they took away their property rights,” she explained.

Hatton has since apologized for her comments. However, Hanks is still using the comments as one of the two reasons for the recall. Her petition cites “inappropriate comments comparing Spring Lake Village parking ordinance to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.”

Hanks says her bigger problem with Hatton is the village president’s support of disincorporating the village. Hatton ran and won on a platform of disincorporation to lower taxes.

Hanks’ petition also references Hatton’s “insistence on pursuing disincorporation process even after community work group and village council recommended against disincorporation at a significant cost to tax payers.”

The village manager says $68,000 has been spent on education concerning the issue.

Hatton has 10 days to appeal the ruling approving the language. The petition needs to collect 282 signatures to get the issue on the ballot. It would then be up to villagers to decide if Hatton keeps her job.