Bertrand Township clerk unseated

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The owner of Vite Greenhouses has unseated incumbent Jane Lano to win the race for Bertrand Township Clerk.

Don Vite, who ran unaffiliated with a political party, secured 411 votes to Lano’s 169 during Tuesday’s recall election in Berrien County.

Don Vite

Don Vite

“A new day has dawned in Bertrand Township. You have elected me because of my pledge to be a man of integrity, character, cooperation and hard work,” Vite said in an email sent to the Daily Star. “That was my pledge to you then, and it is my pledge to you now. I am anxious to get started, and I look forward to working with each member of the township board, and together leading this great township forward.”

Lano, 56, is a Republican who was appointed Bertrand Township clerk in June of 2008 and retained the seat through an election later that year. She was re-elected in 2012 to another four-year term.

Lano released the following statement after the election:

“My presence of no longer being a board member does not diminish my concerns and interest in the very important matters of business that need the attention of the citizens of this township… there are some enormous issues facing this board and the decisions that will be made will affect the future of this township permanently.”

The recall election stemmed from a recall effort led by township resident Martin Couture in the fall of 2014.

Couture filed a recall petition stating that Lano notarized a civil rights complaint filed against the township board by an employee. The recall petition went on to say that Lano did not notify the board of the complaint until weeks later.

Couture said he was pleased with the outcome.

“With the kind of numbers that came out I think that there was a clear indication from the residents that they are looking for change and it seems to me that Don Vite has been representing that,” he said.

Lano defended her actions by claiming that she — acting as a notary — did not have a duty, obligation or responsibility to tell anyone on the board about the civil rights complaint. Lano said she believes her duty as a notary is separate from her role as township clerk.

Enough residents signed the recall petition to have it placed on Tuesday’s election.

Vite was the only person to run against her. He will fill out Lano’s term, which expires in November 2016.