MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Two Casnovia Township officials narrowly avoided losing their seats after residents voted not to recall them in a special election Tuesday.
Township residents petitioned last year to recall Casnovia Township Clerk Jennie Powell and Trustee Daniel Winell, both Republicans, over their voting records on a controversial wind farm project that divided township residents and their elected officials for over a year.
However, Powell beat nonpartisan challenger Carrie Schuman by 245 to 209 votes, according to unofficial May 5 election results from the Muskegon County Clerk’s Office.
Winell held his seat by just six votes, beating nonpartisan challenger Steven Sower, Jr. with 230 to 224 votes.
The controversial wind farm project sparked division within the township over a litany of complaints by residents, who claimed the proposed wind farm would create excessive noise and could create hazards for local wildlife.
The proposed wind farm, dubbed the Kenowa Ridge Wind Farm Project, would have built 31 wind turbines across portions of Casnovia Township in Muskegon County and Tyrone Township in Kent County. It was first proposed in 2018 and would have been completed this year.
After Powell, Winell and Treasurer Gayle Brock – who has since resigned – voted to approve the wind farm project, residents filed petitions to recall them, registering over 400 signatures.
Residents who filed petitions against the officials previously told MLive that Powell and Winell had lost the trust of Casnovia Township residents by voting “against the will of residents.”
However, Winell claimed the basis of the petition was inaccurate, and told MLive he was “surprised the petition was approved in the first place.”
Winell said even though some township officials wanted to resign immediately once the petition was filed, he decided to stick it out.
“I believe in our system, I really do,” he said. “It is what it is. Our system is the way it is for a reason.”