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Joyce Hatton's ill-timed resignation

• Aug 16, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Last Tuesday, voters in the Village of Spring Lake were asked to decide whether or not to approve a charter amendment allowing for disincorporation of the village.

A day before that vote took place, Village President Joyce Hatton — who was elected with the primary goal of pushing for disincorporation — announced she was stepping down.

Granted, Hatton didn’t intentionally announce her resignation. Her decision was inadvertently leaked when her son replied-all to a group email. Tribune reporter Marie Havenga was one of the people to receive that email.

Still, when asked, Hatton admitted that she planned to step down the day after the vote, regardless of the outcome.

In our opinion, that was a mistake. Hatton owed it to her supporters — and she had many — to ride out her push for disincorporation until after the votes had been counted.

To her credit, Hatton, now 84, has gone to battle for a cause that she’s passionate about. She pushed for disincorporation for several years, and when Village Council refused to put the charter amendment issue on the ballot, she took matters into her own hands. She ran for village president against a pair of worthy opponents this past November and won.

She made no qualms about her campaign goals — and once elected, she single-mindedly pushed for disincorporation.

She made plenty of adversaries along the way, which created a very dysfunctional relationship with Village Manager Chris Burns and a majority of those on the council, who were staunchly against disincorporation.

Hatton poured her heart, and her cash, into her cause — she told Havenga she spent more than $2,000 on pushing for a “yes” vote, along with more than $9,000 on personal attorney fees.

Twice, a local businesswoman filed recall petitions against Hatton.

It’s clear that her time on council wore Hatton down, and it’s hard to blame her for wanting to give up the fight once it became apparent that the majority of village residents did not, in fact, favor disincorporation.

Still, Hatton owed it to her supporters — those 500-plus people who voted for her last November — to put off any thoughts of stepping down until after the primary election.

Instead, by deciding to step down before the votes were cast — let alone counted — all Hatton accomplished was to waste plenty of taxpayer money and create eight months of headaches and gridlock on Village Council.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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