Pictured: Karen Conover, Granger Stefanko and Holly Halabicky, who are targeted for Recall from the Davison Board of Education.
DAVISON- A recall has officially been filed against three Davison Community Schools Board of Education members for the recent appointment of Diane Rhines.
Board members Karen Conover, Granger Stefanko, and Holly Halabicky are now targeted to be removed from office.
Kurtis McMahon also voted with Conover as the fourth vote, but cannot be recalled because he hasn’t served one year in office.
It all started when the board voted to appoint former school board member Diane Rhines to fill the vacancy created by Stefanie Pickell.
Rhines ran uncontested in 2016, and then ran in 2022 as the incumbent. She lost the election and was rejected by voters six months ago. Now, she is back on the board and without a nod from the public.
Pictured: Diane Rhines, who lost re-election as the incumbent just six months ago, is now back on the board.
The recall comes just one day after Richfield Township resident Leonard Marden told the board during public comments he was going to file a recall on them after the board appointment of Diane Rhines.
“We the voters of the Davison School District voted Diane Rhines out of office this past November election and as the incumbent. Now, six months later, the board totally disregarded the wishes of us voters and put her right back on the board. What a bold move to go against the voters who elect you all” Said Marden.
The motion to appoint Diane Rhines was carried 4-2. Board members Matthew Smith and Alicia Hensley voted no, and for two different reasons.
In his argument, Board Member Matthew Smith said that Rhines was voted out of office as the incumbent and appointing her back to the board when she was ousted six months ago is a “slap in the face to voters”. Smith also said that Rhines gave the worst interview of the four applicants.
“In addition to the board going against the community, most of the public first found out about the opening on the school board on a Thursday when it ran in print paper, and the deadline was the very next day. 24 hours is not adequate time for the community to apply”, Said Smith.
Board Member Alicia Hensley voted against the appointment of Rhines because she wanted a person with kids in the district.
The four applicants to apply besides Rhines included, Christine Baier Bozynski, Heather Giguere and Ben Vick.
When conducting interviews, each board member had the opportunity to go with Conover’s pre-determined questions, or ask one of their own. Board Member Matthew Smith asked his own question: “If a member of this board was voted out of office by voters, should they be appointed and what is your respect for voters?”
Link to watch the interviews: https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=794621565553865&id=1283979249&mibextid=cr9u03
When Smith asked Rhines that question she said that losing an election is not being voted out of office.
“The only way you can be voted out of office is a recall. I don’t believe losing an election is being voted out”, Said Rhines.
In the 2022 election, Hensley received 4,269 votes, Kurtis McMahan received 3,367 votes and Kurt Minto received 3,172 votes.
Rhines, the six year incumbent, was the fourth highest vote getter with 3,128 votes.
Recall petitioner Leonard Marden said he tried to voice his opposition to the appointment of Diane Rhines before it was made, but the school board refused to hear from him.
“Karen Conover made sure the appointment was the first thing on the agenda, even before the approval of the agenda, and public comments. A motion was then made to move the appointment on the agenda after public comments and they voted that down. This proves my case of the lack of respect for voters and transparency”, said Marden.
Board member Matthew Smith made a motion to amend the agenda, adding the the appointment after public comments to hear from residents. The motion died due to a lack of a second.
“What is the point of having school board elections and making our voice heard if the first opportunity this board gets to fill an open seat is appointing someone we voted out. This goes against our Democracy and community as a whole”, Said Marden.
Marden also voiced concern that one of the board members he is targeting for recall, Granger Stefanko, is also the chairman of the Building, Grounds and Transportation committee while his family owns the construction company that is the manager for the districts’ 74 million dollar bond project. Stefanko works for his family company as an employee of DCC Construction.
“We have board members gaining financially off our board. No one should be sitting on the school board voting on contracts and bids while profiting off it with their family business. I believe this board is out of touch, has gotten out of hand and doesn’t care about anyone but themselves” said Marden.
Conover has been on the board since 1988. Stefanko was elected in 2018. Halabicky was appointed in 2022.
When Halabicky was appointed, it was made by the GISD. Karen Conover’s late husband, John Conover was serving on the GISD at the time.
“In my opinion, the school board is loyal to Karen Conover and not the voters of this community”, Said Marden.
As for the recall, the Genesee County Elections Commission will have to determine if the language is factual. The recall language reads:
“Karen D. Conover voted to appoint Diane Rhines to the Davison Board of Education.”
“Granger L. Stefanko voted to appoint Diane Rhines to the Davison Board of Education.”
“Holly Halabicky voted to appoint Diane Rhines to the Davison Board of Education.”
The Genesee County Elections Commission is made up of: Judge Barkey, Clerk Dominque Clemons, and Treasurer Cherry.
If approved, Marden plans to rally the community that rejected Rhines to sign the petition.
“More people voted against Rhines than voting for her. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this community has a voice” Said Marden.
Link to watch the full board meeting: https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=794621565553865&id=1283979249&mibextid=cr9u03
The recall hearing is scheduled for June 8th in Judge Barkey’s courtroom.