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Hatton officially resigns as village president

Marie Havenga • Aug 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The torch has passed in the Village of Spring Lake.

Village President Joyce Hatton emailed her notice of resignation to council members less than four hours after the polls closed Tuesday night, and President Pro Tem Mark Powers was ready to replace Hatton at the helm.

Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the upstairs conference room at Village Hall to formally accept the resignation, which Hatton emailed at 11:37 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the Village Charter, Powers will serve the remainder of Hatton's two-year term. Council has 30 days to appoint a replacement to Powers' council seat.

Village Manager Chris Burns said she expects council to appoint a new member on Aug. 21 or at a special meeting.

Burns said looking at the roster of past village presidents and the dates they served, it appears Hatton may be the first to resign.

“When you look at the photo montage of past presidents and the ‘to’ and ‘from’ dates, it appears as if everyone fulfilled their terms,” she said.

Burns said she believes Powers will do a fine job in his new position.

“He's a good parliamentarian,” she said. “I think his lawyer background gives him an even temper. He has the ability to remain calm, cool and collected. Things will go back to being respective and productive. It's all good.”

Powers said he looks forward to getting back to the quiet business of fixing sewers and repairing roads.

“We certainly wish Joyce the best in whatever comes next in life,” he added.

Hatton, 84, announced Monday that she planned to step down no matter what the outcome of Tuesday's election.

Village voters on Tuesday shot down a charter amendment, 556-325, that Hatton poured her heart and soul into for more than five years. It would have allowed a mechanism to dissolve the village government.

Hatton, the only member of the present Village Council in favor of the measure, and the only one who favored disincorporating the village and making it part of Spring Lake Township, said it was difficult to work with council members who weren't like-minded. Hatton and council members were often at odds as she tried to push the agenda that she felt she had a voter “mandate” to champion — disincorporation and saving taxpayers’ money.

Powers called her “a single-issue candidate.”

On July 3, Seven Steps Up owner Michelle Hanks filed a petition to recall Hatton. The Ottawa County Elections Commission approved the petition language on July 19, but Hatton appealed. Hanks filed a second, simpler recall petition last week.

County Elections Coordinator Steven Daitch said he believes the recall petitions will become null and void because Hatton has resigned and can no longer be recalled.

“I think I did what I said I was going to do (get the issue on the ballot), and the people made their choice,” Hatton said Wednesday. “I obviously don't agree with it, but that obviously was the reason I was doing what I was doing. The people have spoken.”

Hatton said she spent $2,000 of her own money championing the charter amendment to voters. She said many pro-disincorporation residents also reached out to thank her for her efforts.

“I received many nice ‘thank you’ letters from people who believed in it, too,” she said. “I was doing what I thought was best for Spring Lake Village. I still feel it's the best route to go, but it's time for me to move on. Someone else, when they are up to it, can pick up the ball.”

Hatton said she believes “we did a lot of good” during her seven-month tenure as president, including questioning some rules and procedures, such as council members not being able to talk to village attorneys, engineers and the like without permission from the village manager and all of council. She also put the spotlight on some village staff pay rates, which she believes are too high for a municipality with a population of about 2,500.

Hatton said she plans to spend her free time now working on her autobiography, which she is calling “Blazing Trails”; traveling to visit family members; and sailing with friends and family. She will remain living in the village, even though she dislikes paying taxes to both the village and township.

“For me, and I certainly hope for the 300-plus people who voted 'yes' on this, I hope they all feel the same way — that if you feel your cause is just and you feel it's the best for your community, you do what you can do,” Hatton said. “You may not have succeeded, but you climbed a step in the right direction.”

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