Benton Harbor Mayor to face recall election in May - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Benton Harbor Mayor to face recall election in May

Posted:

Some political drama up in Benton Harbor right when over 400 people signed a petition to throw out Mayor James Hightower. The Clerks office says enough of those signatures are valid, so Hightower will now have to fight to keep his job in a special election on May 6th.

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower told the media a firm "NO!" when asked if he was stepping down at a news conference Thursday outside City Hall. His response, "I'm still the Mayor for the City of Benton Harbor, Michigan." As Hightower responded to a recall petition that was filed Tuesday at the Berrien County Clerks office, he read word for word at a news conference Thursday why residents want him out, "For voting No to allow the city income tax to be placed on the ballot on the November 5th, 2013, ballot."

While hundreds of people say that's reason enough to kick him out, he says he had plenty of good reasons to say no the income tax increase. He says, "Our citizens couldn't afford it. We already pay the highest water bills, the highest taxes, and the highest insurance rates for Berrien County."

Here's how the special election will work. It'll be held on Tuesday May 6th where Hightower's name will automatically be on a ballot along with anyone else who comes up with just four signatures to run against him. Hightower says his campaigning starts immediately.

The man spearheading the effort to recall Hightower is Reverend Edward Pinkney. He says the mayor should have voted yes to the income tax increase. Pinkney says, "Anytime that you know you have the opportunity to bring in revenue, and you have a mayor that rejects that, then it's time to have him removed." The media asked him why not just wait it out, seeing that Hightower only has one year left in office. His response, "It's better to do it now than to wait later and lose more money. At the rate we're going, if we continue to have this mayor in office, we will continue to lose money."

Hightower says Benton Harbor can't afford to spend thousands of dollars, saying this recall election is a waste of time and money. There will be an unscheduled, unbudgeted election on May 6th that will cost the citizens of Benton Harbor a minimum of $7,000.

Hightowers opponents say voters will be eager to go to the polls. But not everyone agrees, like Louis Joseph, who lives in Benton Township. "They'll refuse to go because it's a waste of the taxpayers money," he says. Joseph says Hightower should just finish out his term, and leave the rest for the next election, saying, "If you just keep changing the horse in the middle of the stream, you'll never get any place!"

Opponents looking to run against Hightower in the May 6th special election have till Friday, February 21st to file signatures with the Benton Harbor clerk's office. As of Thursday, the clerk's office says no one has filed. Pinkney says an opponent will be announced Wednesday, February 19th at 4pm outside Benton Harbor City Hall.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • UPDATE: Dowagiac Police report missing teenager found safe

    UPDATE: Dowagiac Police report missing teenager found safe

    Picture of Daven Lamont Brown (Courtesy: Regina Northrop)Picture of Daven Lamont Brown (Courtesy: Regina Northrop)
    UPDATE: Dowagiac Police report missing teenager Daven Lamont Brown has been located by his family and is unharmed. 
    Police say the family noticed "an increase in conversation" on social media after news reports came out that Brown was missing. They say those conversations led to information on where Brown might be, and he was found by family. Brown told police he was with friends the whole time he was reported missing and neglected to tell his family where he was.
    More >>
    UPDATE: Dowagiac Police report missing teenager Daven Lamont Brown has been located by his family and is unharmed. 
    Police say the family noticed "an increase in conversation" on social media after news reports came out that Brown was missing. They say those conversations led to information on where Brown might be, and he was found by family. Brown told police he was with friends the whole time he was reported missing and neglected to tell his family where he was.
    More >>
  • Woman found dead inside her burning home in Middlebury

    Woman found dead inside her burning home in Middlebury

    Police are still investigating after a woman was found dead Wednesday morning inside of her home in Middlebury. When authorities arrived at the scene, her house had caught fire.Elkhart County Sheriff Department deputies responded to the scene on the 11400 block of County Rd. 4 in Middlebury shortly after midnight Wednesday morning. Inside the home, they found 69-year-old Lona Chutsch dead inside of her burning house.More >>
    Police are still investigating after a woman was found dead Wednesday morning inside of her home in Middlebury. When authorities arrived at the scene, her house had caught fire.Elkhart County Sheriff Department deputies responded to the scene on the 11400 block of County Rd. 4 in Middlebury shortly after midnight Wednesday morning. Inside the home, they found 69-year-old Lona Chutsch dead inside of her burning house.
    More >>
  • Fatal motorcycle accident on US 20 in Elkhart

    Fatal motorcycle accident on US 20 in Elkhart

    A 42 year old Elkhart man was pronounced dead at the scene of a motorcycle accident Sunday just before 11 AM. The motorcycle driver was driving his Harley Davidson eastbound on US 20, when he crossed the center line near CO RD 13. He collided with a vehicle traveling west.Police reports say witnesses suggested the man may have been driving around 70-80 miles per hour. He was found not wearing a helmet. The driver of the car had only minor scrapes as injuries. The Elkhart County Crash Investig...More >>
    A 42 year old Elkhart man was pronounced dead at the scene of a motorcycle accident Sunday just before 11 AM. The motorcycle driver was driving his Harley Davidson eastbound on US 20, when he crossed the center line near CO RD 13. He collided with a vehicle traveling west.Police reports say witnesses suggested the man may have been driving around 70-80 miles per hour. He was found not wearing a helmet. The driver of the car had only minor scrapes as injuries. The Elkhart County Crash Investig...More >>
Powered by WorldNow

Fox 28

WSJV-TV FOX 28
58096 County Road 7, South
Elkhart, IN 46517

Switchboard: 574.679.9758
News Phone: 574.679.4545
Station Fax: 574.294.1267
Email: fox28news@fox28.com

All content ©Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSJV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Heather Stewart at (574) 343-5310. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.