VALPARAISO – Valparaiso Village Board Member Mike Blazek had 20 days to respond to the recall petition he was served on March 9.
On March 26, Blazek submitted his defense statement to a recall petition filed by Linda Fletcher in Saunders County Clerk/Election Commissioner Patti Lindgren’s office on Feb. 24. In his statement, Blazek describes the recall as “recall retaliation” and that it has “no merit.”
According to the petition, Fletcher’s reason for the recall includes abuse of power, discussing village business outside on social media and harassment of other village employees.
“He (Blazek) has abused his position for personal benefit by having village employees grade, seed and water property personally owned by him,” Fletcher wrote. “He has discussed village business on social media and spread false information. He has harassed and bullied village employees and others. Two village clerks have resigned in the two years since his election.”
During a village board meeting on March 9, Blazek spoke about the recall and the project Fletcher references in the first sentence of her reasons. Blazek said it was related to a recent drainage project that was done on his property which Greg Bouc, head of village maintenance, helped and advised on.
Bouc said during this meeting that despite Blazek and his disagreements on the project, he would disagree that Blazek was taking advantage of his position with the village.
After this meeting, Blazek told The Waverly News that he planned to wait as long as possible until results from the audit and criminal investigation being done on the library became public information.
“This recall by Linda Fletcher has no merit,” Blazek wrote. “The Nebraska State Patrol and Nebraska State Auditor’s office are currently investigating potential criminal activity that I, Mike Blazek, identified at the Valparaiso Library. Library Director Lori Springer is the daughter of Linda Fletcher. The library remains closed by the village board as a result of inappropriate expenditures being confirmed.”
Since Blazek has provided his defense statement, Fletcher picked up the eight petitions on March 29 for at least 104 registered Valparaiso voters to sign. Nebraska State Statute 32-1303 states that in a village, the petition must include 45% of “the total vote cast for the person receiving the most votes for that office in the last general election.” Lindgren said the highest vote in the 2020 general election in the village was 230 votes cast. Forty-five percent of 230 is about 104 votes.
Lindgren said Fletcher will likely need to get more than 104 votes because the verification process is complicated. Once Fletcher has received the petitions, she has 30 days after the filing clerk issues the initial petition papers, Nebraska State Statute 32-1305 stated.
Fletcher will have until April 28 to collect signatures. According to Article 13, Nebraska State Statute 32-1305, Lindgren and her office have 15 business days after Fletcher files the petitions to verify the signatures and ensure there are at least 104. As soon as the filled out petitions are filed, they become public record, Lindgren said.
This statute states that no signatures may be added or removed after the petition is filed with Lindgren. If someone has signed the petition and wants their name to be removed from the petition, they must submit an affidavit to Lindgren prior to the petition being filed.
If the recall is “to be found sufficient,” Blazek and the village board will be informed, statute 32-1306 said. This statute also states that within 21 days after receipt of the notification from the filing clerk an election can be ordered.
The election must meet certain election standards in statute 32-405 and be certified with Lindgren at least 50 days prior to the selected date. If Blazek tenders his resignation, the village board may cancel the recall election if they are able to notify Lindgren 24 days prior to the special election date.
However, if the recall election does not remove Blazek from office, another petition cannot be filed for 12 months, within six months after the beginning of a new term or six months prior to Blazek filing for re-election.