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Michigan township voters recall board over China-tied electric vehicle plant controversy

The $2.4 billion Gotion EV plant has divided locals.

Published: November 8, 2023 11:07pm

Updated: November 8, 2023 11:07pm

(The Center Square) -

Voters in Green Township, Mich., recalled five board members for supporting the Gotion electric vehicle battery plant that’s acted as a flashpoint to locals.

The $2.4 billion EV plant has divided locals. Some welcomed the estimated 2,350 jobs created over 10 years in a county fighting population and job loss, while others questioned the $715 million taxpayer funding to Gotion, Inc. a subsidiary of China-based Gotion High-Tech Co.

Funding includes a $125 million grant for job creation, a 30-year Renaissance Zone to Mecosta County valued at $540 million, and a $50 million performance-based grant.

Michigan lawmakers questioned why Gotion allegedly planned to withdraw about 715,000 gallons of Michigan groundwater per day.

Jason Cruse garnered 740 votes to defeat Green Township Supervisor James Chapman, while Corri Riebow defeated Clerk Janet Clark and Robert Henderson beat Treasurer Denise McFarlane.

Green Charter Township trustee Dale Jernstadt received 571 votes but lost to Jeff Thorne who got 785 votes. Kelly Kushway defeated Roger E. Carroll for the Township Trustee race on a vote of 707 to 527. Two other board members resigned before the recall election.

Unofficial election results from Mecosta County show Carman Bean with 444 votes, defeating Big Rapids Bill Stanek, who earned 391 votes and strongly supported the plant.

Horse farm owner Lori Brock helped organize the recall because the board “brought in Gotion without letting the community know about it,” Brock said in a phone interview.

When Brock discovered the Gotion plant in March, she investigated the deal and garnered hundreds of signatures to recall the members. The plant would sit near her 140-acre horse farm housing 20 horses.

“They lied all the way around, so we’re immediately going to try to reverse a lot of the stuff this township board did,” Brock said. “And we’re definitely going to get rid of Gotion.”

Brock said Gotion was meant to break ground in June but was delayed by local opposition.

“It was a vindication that good does prevail,” Brock said, adding that she’s working with groups in Illinois to oppose Gotion, which seeks more than $7 billion in federal tax credits, and over $500 million in subsidies from Illinois.

Brock said Gotion has a “playbook” to target weak governments and take over local government with promises of good jobs.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. have supported the project.

Former United States Ambassadors Joseph Cella and Peter Hoekstra welcomed the results. They claim Gotion is linked to the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party-tied company

“With these successful recalls and ordinance repeal, Michigan is at the leading edge of this fight, and should be a warning sign to other states recklessly pursuing such ‘deals’ which jeopardize our national security, and perhaps will be an inspiration for other citizen activists seeking to mobilize against pro-PRC/CCP government and business elites,” they said in a statement.

In April, The MEDC told The Center Square it would charge $16,537 for more than 45,000 pages of documents about the Gotion EV plant.

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