Recall petition against Benton Harbor Mayor Muhammad approved

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A third recall petition being filed against Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad, this one, being approved.

The first recall petition was rejected at the beginning of the month for inaccurate language, a second was rejected about two weeks later due to legal issues over the timing of the complaint listed in that petition.

The basis in this third one – the mayor voting yes to a state of emergency.

“I’m just happy to stand here today and say we do have the money, it is getting fixed, I can play the blame game but nobody wins,” said Mayor Muhammad.

Mayor Muhammad spoke on October 19th as the city announced a state of emergency over the lead in its drinking water.

That declaration is now the center of a recall petition against the mayor.

Resident Elnora Gavin supports a recall and said the water crisis was an emergency long before October. 

“He should’ve called for a state of emergency a very long time ago, why didn’t that happen? This was clearly an emergency, it’s as if he waited until community organizers got together and filed a petition,” said Gavin.

While Shaquille Turner, a truck driver, has a reprieve from the obstacles of avoiding your own drinking water, but his family is back at home with that daily burden. 

“I have a mother, grandparents that I look after, my issue with the mayor and city commission is the lack of transparency and response,” said Turner.   

The petition’s approval comes one week after a group of residents met at City Hall in support of Mayor Muhammad.

“He is probably one of the most astute leaders we’ve had in the history of this community,” said Reinaldo Tripplett.

“We knew about the water issues since 2018, why are the recalls happening now? Is this because of a sore loser?” said Trenton Bowens.

Mayor Muhammad responded to the recall, telling ABC57:

I am excited to have the bids going out in order to aggressively complete the lead service lines replacement. I just had a very successful meeting with Michael Harris of the EPA to ensure enforcement and compliance for the EPA order. My focus is completely arrested with completing operation lead free City of Benton Harbor and to us moving forward. Anything outside of the above mentioned is a distraction. This recall effort is like attempting to remove the pilot while the plane is in the air. It compromises the safety of everyone on the plane.

Now that the recall petition has been approved by the Berrien County Election Commission, Mayor Muhammad has 10 days to appeal.

If he appeals, the petition is invalid for circulation until the Circuit Court can determine if the petition’s reasons are valid. 

Petitioners must now get 595 signatures within 60 days for there to be a recall election.  

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