Thursday, June 17, 2021

Widow demands appointment to treasurer’s term

Sumpter Township Deputy Treasurer Toni Clark, the widow of recently deceased Treasurer James Clark, has demanded the board of trustees appoint her to the remainder of his elected term, claiming the seat is her “legal right.”

Clark sent an email to Township Supervisor Tim Bowman, the other members of township board of trustees and township attorney Rob Young on June 11, four days after her husband's death, demanding the appointment. James Clark died  June 7.

In her email, Clark stated that she hoped, “I still have a job with the township.” She claimed that she spoke with Young about her “options” and criticized him for not confirming her erroneous claim to the remainder of her deceased husband's term.

In the email she stated, “I have a legal right as deputy to take the seat as the treasurer. This has been the right for spouses for several years.”

Mr. Clark is the fourth township official to die in office in the past six years. Trustee William Hamm died in 2015; Treasurer Alan Bates died in 2016 and  Clerk Clarence Hoffman died in 2017.

Young explained that there is “absolutely no authority in Michigan law that any survivor inherits or has a right to the office of a deceased relative or spouse.”

Young added there is no prohibition against naming a spouse to an unexpired term of office, but there is no law that requires the board of trustees to name Clark to the office.

“Until the board appoints a new treasurer, she will continue as the deputy treasurer,” he said. “Obviously, we need someone in that office, we cannot have a void there. When a new treasurer is named, that person will name a deputy,” he said.

In her email, however, Clark claimed that Young should have explained to her that appointment to her husband's elected term was her “right.”

“He told me nothing except asked me what I wanted instead of what I had a right to.  He should have spelled my right out to me.  If he didn't want to tell me, he should have showed me in writing. If any of you knew this you should have told me. I have caused none of you harm. I have done my job to the best of my ability with the information provided to me,” she claimed in the email.

Clark concluded her message by requesting a special board meeting to confirm her “position as Treasurer of Sumpter Township.  I am requesting this is to be done by Monday.  The people voted Jim Clark as treasurer and myself as his deputy.” 

Despite her claims, voters did not elect Toni Clark as deputy treasurer, and her name or the position of deputy treasurer did not appear on the ballot. She was appointed as deputy treasurer by her husband following his election and that appointment confirmed by the members of the board of trustees.

 (See related story, page 1.)