Progressive Groups Seek to Recall Latina Republican County Commissioner in Michigan

Progressive social activist groups in Michigan have joined forces to recall a female Hispanic county commissioner because of her conservative political views.
Progressive Groups Seek to Recall Latina Republican County Commissioner in Michigan
Ottawa County Commissioner and recall target Lucy Ebel. (Courtesy of Lucy Ebel)
Steven Kovac

A coalition of left-leaning social activist groups has come together to recall Lucy Ebel, the first Hispanic woman ever to serve on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners.

Ms. Ebel’s only offense may be her conservative views and her association with a grassroots parental rights group called Ottawa Impact, according to friends and foes alike.

The official reason for removing her from office is stated at the top of the recall petition. It reads in its entirety, “On Feb. 28, 2023, Commissioner Lucy Ebel voted for a motion to correct the previous board of commissioners’ December 13, 2022 resolution that appointed Adeline Hambley as administrative health officer for Ottawa County.

“Commissioner Ebel voted for the motion after Ms. Hambley challenged in court the commission’s designation of her status as interim health officer.”

Critics of the recall have questioned whether the purported wrongdoing described in the petition language warrants removal from office.

The filer of the recall petition, Larry Jackson, told The Epoch Times in a Nov. 30, 2023 interview, “I think there are sufficient reasons for the recall of Ms. Ebel, which we laid out in solid language that was approved unanimously by the county Election Commission.”

Mr. Jackson, who was recently elected chairman of the Ottawa County Democratic Party, said that the petition language was general enough to be used in the possible recall of other commissioners.

Powerful Enemies

The progressive groups arrayed against Ms. Ebel are well-connected, powerful, and well-funded. They include Ottawa Objects, Ottawa Integrity, the Ottawa Coalition of Unifying Congregations, the Democrat Party, and Vote the Common Good of West Michigan.

Mr. Jackson said enough valid signatures have been garnered, and a special recall election has been scheduled for May 7, 2024.

“The recall of Lucy Ebel is an attack on Ottawa Impact ideology, not on a person. This is not about nasty, personal partisanship. It’s about opposing far-right politics and authoritarian rule,” Mr. Jackson said.

“Ottawa Impact is pushing a religious agenda from a pedestal they perched themselves on in order to destroy democracy. They are coming from a Christian nationalist space that is not representative of the views of most people.”

In 2022, Ms. Ebel and seven other conservative, reform-minded candidates endorsed by Ottawa Impact rode into office on a tidal wave of public discontent over the county health department’s stringent COVID-19 lockdowns that harmed small businesses, closed schools and mandated elementary school children wear masks.

“Ottawa Impact candidates, including Lucy Ebel, really cleaned the house of moderate Republicans when they captured the majority,” said Mr. Jackson.

The composition of the new board includes the “Strong Six,” a group of Ottawa Impact-endorsed candidates that vote as a bloc, as well as two more Republicans who Mr. Jackson says vote 90 percent of the time with the reformers. There is one Republican carry-over from the previous board who now calls himself an Independent, one Republican who rarely aligns with the rest, and one lone Democrat.

Ottawa County Democrat Party Chairman Larry Jackson. (Courtesy of Larry Jackson)
Ottawa County Democrat Party Chairman Larry Jackson. (Courtesy of Larry Jackson)

A conservative, Christian Republican, Ms. Ebel defeated an entrenched Republican incumbent in the August 2022 primary and went on to beat Democrat Joe Spaulding in the Nov. general election.

Mr. Spaulding is a well-known progressive social activist and political tactician who helped coordinate the recall petition drive against Ms. Ebel.

Mr. Spaulding did not respond to a request for comment.

An Unabashed Conservative

Ms. Ebel waged an aggressive door-to-door campaign espousing the protection of the innocence of children from sexualization in schools, parental rights, individual autonomy in personal health decisions, respect for small businesses, and protection of the constitutional liberties of all Americans.

Fellow Ottawa Impact endorsed commissioner Sylvia Rhodea, the new board’s vice chair, told The Epoch Times that the recall “has zero to do with Lucy Ebel. Rather, it’s all about breaking the solid six to five majority conservatives now hold on the eleven-member county board of commissioners.

“Lucy has been targeted because the district she represents has the highest concentration of Democrat voters in our heavily Republican county. Democrats say it’s their best shot to break the conservative majority.”

Ms. Ebel, a nurse who had never run for elective office before, told The Epoch Times that, after conversing with friends about a possible entry into local politics, she was contacted by Joe Moss from Ottawa Impact.

Discovering that the group shared her conservative values and view of the Constitution—and with the encouragement of her mother—she agreed to run for a seat on the county commission and was endorsed by Ottawa Impact.

“My parents raised me as a JFK Democrat. Eventually, I learned that it is a lie that Democrats help Hispanics. They just want to keep us in dependency.

“It is the American Dream that a person has the freedom to be whatever they want. You just have to work toward it, pursue it, and don’t waiver,” Ms. Ebel said.

DEI Dismantling

Mr. Jackson told The Epoch Times that he was troubled that, “On day one in office, the Ottawa Impact majority voted to dismantle the county’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Lucy was the first to raise her hand in support of the motion.”

Explaining her vote, Ms. Ebel told The Epoch Times that DEI was “unfair to well-qualified white people.”

“Knocking on doors, I saw their tears as they told me they were not hired because they were ‘the wrong color.’

“I was elected to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all people,” she said.

The Uniparty?

Despite the help of the anti-Ottawa Impact coalition, Mr. Jackson has no illusions about Democrats becoming the majority of the board any time soon.

“Ottawa County is very Republican. It went for Donald Trump twice. In fact, a Democrat candidate for president hasn’t carried it since 1864.

“To my knowledge, we have never had a Democrat State Senator or Representative.

“The Republicans hold 10 of the 11 county board seats. Faced with that situation, we are focusing on a county-wide effort to recall Lucy Ebel.

“We don’t know yet who will run to replace her. It may well be that we will back a moderate Republican who we can work with,” Mr. Jackson said.

Partnering with moderate Republicans is one of his goals, he said.

“This fight is not about party governance. It is about good governance, transparency, and representation for all.

According to Mr. Jackson, Ottawa County was run pretty well by moderate Republicans before Ottawa Impact came along.

Chairman of the Ottawa County, Mich. Board of Commissioners and conservative activist Joe Moss. (Courtesy of Ottawa Impact)
Chairman of the Ottawa County, Mich. Board of Commissioners and conservative activist Joe Moss. (Courtesy of Ottawa Impact)

“They brought an onslaught of change. On their first day in office, they disbanded DEI, fired the corporate counsel, replaced the county administrator with John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official, and tried to fire the Health Dept. director and replace her with a less qualified person who shares their views on Health Dept. mandates.”

Mr. Jackson also complained that the new board “restricted LGBTQ events and activities and cut off county financial contributions to them.”

“They also changed the county motto from ‘Where You Belong’ to ‘Where Freedom Rings.’”

Mr. Moss, who co-founded Ottawa Impact with Ms. Rhodea, said, “When everyday Americans are attacked relentlessly by progressive activists and their media allies, you are doing something right.

“The people joined together to create Ottawa Impact to defend their piece of America. Ottawa Impact is a voice for the people.”

Ms. Rhodea said that Ottawa County is critical to advancing the conservative cause across Michigan.

“You can see that by the number of progressive social activist organizations that are trying to move in here and sway our people,” she said.