Scottville mayor makes headlines across the state; time to step down

March 6, 2013

Our View. An editorial. 

The city of Scottville made headlines across the state this week. Unfortunately, the headlines were not about all the good that is being done in our fine little town but rather about the mayor’s drunk driving conviction. To our count, the story was covered by the Muskegon Chronicle, Grand Haven Tribune,, TV 9 and 10, WZZM-TV13 and TV 7 and 4.

baxterMayor Joe Baxter pleaded no contest to the charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor, which resulted in him driving his truck off a ravine on an October 18, 2012 morning. This basically means that he neither pleaded guilty nor innocent. Judge Peter Wadel chose guilty and sentenced Baxter with a fine, traffic safety classes, a victim’s impact panel, discretionary jail time and ordered that Baxter not consume or purchase alcohol for one year.

Through a statement issued by his attorney, David Glancy, the mayor “has never denied the fact that he was in an accident and he has accepted responsibility.”

Let’s break that down.

First, it would seem quite factual that he was in an accident since the vehicle he was driving that morning ended up at the bottom of the ravine. It took the efforts of both the Scottville and Custer fire departments to carry him out of the ravine. However, it would seem, since he pleaded no contest, that he has skirted accepting responsibility. His blood alcohol level was .08 two hours after the crash, 16 hours after he told a state police trooper that he had his last drink.

The statement also states that the mayor has a history of chronic lung disorders, which requires medications that may affect the result of blood alcohol levels. “Mr. Baxter is also on numerous other medications which may have played a part in the accident, for which he has undergone testing to monitor these issues. He has also undergone an assessment which indicates no history of alcohol abuse. All of these factors were considered when reaching a resolution in this matter.”

If he were innocent and those factors were truly considered then the judge wouldn’t have found him guilty.

Rescuers assist Mayor Baxter during the Oct. 18 accident

Rescuers assist Mayor Baxter during the Oct. 18 accident

The last part of the statement was also interesting:

“It is unfortunate that some media outlets have chosen to mislead the public as to the character of Mr. Baxter and the facts surrounding this event.”

To date, we have been unable to find misleading facts reported about the event. The MCP, as a matter of fact, used the Michigan State Police crash report, as supplied to us through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. We also interviewed witnesses at the crash site moments after it happened.

A few weeks ago this news site called on Baxter to resign as mayor. We stand by this demand. This incident has shed a negative light on our town and doing the right thing would be accepting full responsibility and resigning from leadership.

If you are a resident or property owner in Scottville, we ask you to take action. Write a letter to the city commission demanding the mayor step down.

Letters can be sent to Scottville City Hall, 105 N. Main St., Scottville, MI 49454.

You should also contact a city commissioner. These people have been elected to represent you. Here are their phone numbers (we have included Mayor Baxter’s number as well):

First Ward Commissioners: 

Denise Dongvillo: 231-757-3534

Richard Maki: 231-757-2014

Second Ward Commissioners: 

Mayor Joe Baxter: 231-757-9522

Bonnie Piefferle: 231-757-3181


David Johnson: 231-936-1222

Connie Duncil: 231-757-3587

James Schiebner: 231-233-3989

You can also attend a meeting of the city commission. It meets on the first and third Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

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