Voters in a Michigan community removed five local officials in a recall election fueled by opposition to a Chinese company’s plan to make components for electric vehicle batteries.
The Green Township supervisor, clerk, treasurer and two trustees — all Republicans — were defeated Tuesday by challengers who listed no party affiliation.
“This recall shows how the community did not want this,” recall advocate Lori Brock told The Detroit News, referring to the factory. “This just means we have a voice again.”
The five officials were part of a 7-0 vote last December supporting a factory by Gotion, a China-based manufacturer, in the Mecosta County township. The project, valued at more than $2 billion, could bring thousands of jobs.
It also has the support of state officials, including Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Millions of dollars in financial incentives have been approved.
But critics point to possible environmental impacts in the rural area, about 60 miles north of Grand Rapids, and concerns about national security. An opponent, former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, said Chinese companies serve the Chinese government.
Jim Chapman, the township supervisor who was removed from office, has called the project a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“It’s called democracy,” Chapman said after being removed by voters.
Before the recall election, Chuck Thelen, vice president for Gotion’s North American operations, said the factory was a “done deal” and that job applicants were being screened.
Earlier this year, he said there was no plot to make “Big Rapids a center to spread communism,” a reference to a nearby city.
An opposition group, named the Mecosta Environmental and Security Alliance, has threatened to sue over environmental impacts.
Nearby in Big Rapids Township, Supervisor Bill Stanek also was recalled. He, too, supported the factory.