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Lansing — Critics of Gov. Rick Snyder plan to begin circulating recall petitions this spring in hopes of forcing him out of office over his handling of the Flint water contamination crisis.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Monday approved the form of a petition seeking to recall Snyder over his January emergency declaration in Flint, arguing he should have acted faster to address the crisis.

“The people need the opportunity to express their democratic right as well as their political will. At this point, we do not believe the people have had that point,” said Rev. David Alexander Bullock of Detroit, who submitted the petition.

“We believe there are enough people who are concerned, not only about Flint but the Detroit Public Schools, about Benton Harbor, about Pontiac and about emergency management and about the overreach of the Snyder administration.”

A coalition that includes Bullock and Flint activist Quincy Murphy would have to collect at least 789,133 valid signatures within 60 days to trigger a recall election, which could only occur in May or August. A sitting Michigan governor has never been successfully recalled, according to Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas.

“There’s no doubt it’s a huge undertaking,” Thomas said.

The Board of State Canvassers earlier this month approved an education-related Snyder recall petition, and Bullock and Murphy said they have had conversations with the sponsor of that petition over a joint operation.

On Monday, the board rejected five other Snyder recall petitions filed by Murphy and former Highland Park School Board Robert Davis, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2014. Members also rejected a petition targeting Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

“Recall attempts are a part of the democratic process,” Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said Monday. “We’re focused on helping the people of Flint.”

Murray noted that Snyder’s proposed $195 million in Flint aid as part of his recent budget, on top of the $37 million the state Legislature already approved, including money to help Flint return to Detroit water while construction continues on a new Lake Huron pipeline.

“We’re working with great urgency to locate lead pipe lines in the city and replace those in high-risk, high-priority areas,” Murray said.

The governor has repeatedly apologized for the Flint water crisis and vowed to fix it, acknowledging failures by the local, state and federal governments.

At the state level, the Department of Environmental Quality failed to ensure proper corrosion controls were added to drinking water when the city switched to the Flint River in April of 2014. State health officials did not alert the public when they became aware of an outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ Disease and a suspected connection to the water.

Murphy said the recall group hopes to raise $2 million for a statewide petition drive, which would likely begin this spring when the weather warms. He claimed they already have roughly 2,000 volunteers in place and are working on a website.

“We just dealt with the water issue, but this goes just beyond the water,” Murphy said. “The emergency manager law has done nothing but stripped us from our democracy. So we’re standing up, we’re standing up for democracy, and we’re moving forward with this recall.”

Murphy said the group will resubmit a proposal targeting Calley, who would take over if Snyder is ousted.

joosting@detroitnews.com

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