VALPARAISO – On Feb. 24, a recall petition was filed against Village of Valparaiso Board of Trustees Member Mike Blazek in the Saunders County Clerk’s office.
County Clerk and Election Commissioner Patti Lindgren said that Blazek was served on March 9 at 3 p.m. and has 20 days to reply with a defense statement. During a board meeting on March 9, Blazek addressed the recall in process. He said it was in regards to a recent drainage project done on his property.
Blazek read aloud the reason for the recall that was stated on the petition.
“He has abused his position for personal benefit by a village employee grading, seeding, watering the property personally owned by him,” Blazek read off of the filing.
“I don’t believe in any way shape or form my position as a board member was to get preferential treatment,” Blazek said.
Village Maintenance Employee Greg Bouc helped with the project done to Blazek’s property and during the meeting He said he disagreed with the statement made on the filing.
After the meeting, Blazek confirmed that he does plan to provide a defense statement by March 29, but also hopes to delay his response to await the results of the Valparaiso Public Library audit and the criminal investigation conducted by the Nebraska State Patrol.
“I am going to wait as long as possible, hoping that the report is finalized with the state patrol,” Blazek said after the meeting.
On Jan. 27, the library was closed for an audit by the state and has been shuttered ever since. The audit comes from the library’s inability to provide the full statements from their purchases, which has been an issue with the village board since summer 2020.
At this time, the person who filed the form is not public record and will not be named until the official petition is put together by Lindgren.
Once Blazek has submitted his defense statement Lindgren said she can then put the petitions together. Lindgren said it takes a certain percentage of registered voters dictated by state statute.
Since Valparaiso is a village, 45% of “the total vote cast for the person receiving the most votes for that office in the last general election,” is required by Nebraska State Statute 32-1303. 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 the filer will likely need to get more than 104 votes because the verification process her office will conduct is complicated. Once the filer has received the petitions, they have 30 days after “the filing clerk issues the initial petition papers,” according to Nebraska State Statute 32-1305.