Recall of Michigan Mayor, 19, Over Computer Pranks Hits Snag

Efforts to remove a teenage mayor over his computer pranks hit a roadblock Wednesday when an election board ruled the proposed language for recall petitions was not clear enough.

The Hillsdale County Elections Commission voted 2-1 that wording on proposed recall petitions for Hillsdale Mayor Michael Sessions, 19, did not meet Michigan's legal standard.

Authorities say Sessions deleted MySpace and Facebook accounts belonging to ex-campaign manager Brandon Thomas, as well as posing as someone else to send out disparaging e-mail messages about Thomas.

Sessions pleaded no contest July 2 to a misdemeanor charge of malicious annoyance by writing.

County Clerk Thomas C. Mohr and Treasurer Gary Leininger voted to reject the petition language, while Probate Judge Michael E. Nye voted to accept it.

Mohr objected to the petition's use of a state law's reference number. He said that would have required voters to look up the law to understand what they were signing.

"In my opinion, the wording should have to stand on its own," Mohr said.

Leininger objected to use of the expression "to wit," meaning "that is to say." Mohr said he shared Leininger's belief that "to wit" might confuse the average voter.

Recall leader Jeffrey J. Buchhop could rewrite the petition language and resubmit it, appeal to circuit court, or drop the effort, Mohr said. The signatures of about 520 registered voters would be needed to place the issue on the ballot.

Messages seeking comment from Buchhop and Sessions were left at their homes Wednesday.

Sessions became the city's youngest mayor when he was elected as a write-in candidate in November 2005 at age 18. The city of 8,200 is 85 miles west-southwest of Detroit.