CENTREVILLE – The St. Joseph County Commission has formally asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer to remove Sheriff Mark Lillywhite from office.
On August 31, the Commissioners sent a letter to Whitmer, outlining what they say has been Lillywhite’s willful neglect of his statutory duties as an elected official.
The letter and additional documents inform Whitmer about the events of February 26, 2023, when Lillywhite was arrested after he struck a vehicle from behind just south of Schoolcraft. Lillywhite was driving a County vehicle at close to 100 MPH without any lights on, and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Lillywhite did plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating while intoxicated and was sentenced to one year probation.
The letter states the Commission had asked prior to their August 15 meeting to have Lillywhite provide them with a report, regarding the performance of his duties as Sheriff. During the meeting, Lillywhite failed to discuss any aspect of his performance, according to the Commission and instead spoke only about the general operations of the department. The letter says Lillywhite left abruptly, refusing to answer Commissioners’ questions, simply saying “I’m done”.
The letter says the Commission has received numerous complaints from citizens regarding this issue and determined they have an obligation to act, and they are constrained in their options under Michigan law. During an open meeting, the Commission voted 6-1 to send the request to Whitmer, asking for her to remove Lillywhite from office.
The letter was also sent to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. The Commissioners say they haven’t been given a timeline on when Whitmer will inform them of her decision, or if Nessel will open an investigation.
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