Wearing a red T-shirt saying "Recall Snyder Sign Here," Mike Lewkowicz of Hartland spent Thursday along M-59 in front of Target collecting signatures amid frequent honks, cheers and jeers.
"You've negated my right to vote. It's a big one for me," said Lewkowicz, an Army veteran who decided to take up the cause after Gov. Rick Snyder signed changes to the emergency financial manager law that empower a state official to cancel contracts.
Lewkowicz, a retired Pinckney High School teacher who still works for Baker College, and his wife, Dawn, have been leading the recall signature collection drive in Livingston County for more than a month.
She said the group has more than 120 volunteers and is manning a half-dozen sites, including the one in Hartland. It's a location where signatures will be collected Friday and all next week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4-7 p.m. The group also is collecting in the Brighton area in the car pool lot at Spencer Road and I-96, at the Brighton Farmers' Market and during the gazebo concert series.
"When did we become the enemy here?" said Dawn Lewkowicz, a special education teacher in Howell schools who is concerned about cuts in education. "I'm tired apologizing for being a teacher. I do it because I love it. … We just can't watch (the changes) go by. We've got to do something about it."
But Sara Wurfel, the governor's spokeswoman, said changes to balance the state's budget made under Snyder are now starting to pay off. She noted a recent Fitch Rating upgrade to the state's outlook, something that's "a big, big step in the right direction."
"Our comment on this would be regardless of recall efforts or not, the governor remains fully committed to making the tough decisions that ensure Michigan turns the corner and sees brighter, stronger days for all," she said in an email to Hartland Patch. "He’s hopeful that Michiganders will realize and witness that firsthand over time and that his approach of relentless positive action will make a difference."
The drive also has been met by skepticism from political experts such as said Bill Ballenger, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, who noted that no governor has ever been recalled despite previous organized efforts, in a Detroit News article.
Such doubt about its success only increased when the group announced it would miss its goal of qualifying the question for the November ballot and after news emerged that it had raised about $25,000 — a number considered small for a statewide petition drive, according to a Detroit Free Press article.
But the group isn't giving up and is now targeting February as an election date, according to its Facebook page, and it would have to submit all signatures by the end of October.
Dawn Lewkowicz said the drive can succeed without large funds because its volunteers are motivated.
"(Statewide) we got 300,000 plus signatures in July and that's been huge," she said. "We've got people rocking in this county it's unbelievable. They were not disappointed that it was extended … They are ready to go."