G.H. school board member who stole running again

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- An open two-year seat on the Grand Haven School Board is attracting one write in candidate who hopes to get back on the board and another who wants to stay on the board. It's a race that will get extra attention because of one of the candidates has a criminal past.

Brandon Hall says he decided to run as a write-in candidate for the school board only after no one else did.

"I just had a feeling in my heart to put myself out there," Hall said. "I never wanted to leave my term in the first place. I always wanted at some point to come back to the board."

In 2008, Hall was elected to the school board, but two years later he resigned after being convicted of stealing money from a school fundraiser. Then Hall violated his probation by using marijuana and spent three weeks in jail.

Hall is already campaigning, running in part to prevent the board from making an appointment.

"If no one filed then the school board would have gotten to appoint one of their friends. Now we have a race," Hall said.

Four days after Hall filed as a write-in candidate, current school board treasurer Chris Houghtaling filed his declaration of intent form at the county building.

"After I had already made the decision is when I heard that Mr. Hall had also decided to run and I think that even strengthens my resolve to continue my service on this board even more," said Chris Houghtaling.

Houghtaling's term ends in December; in 2012, he used Hall's help on a petition drive to run for district judge in Ottawa County. During that petition drive the Michigan Attorney General's office said Hall committed election fraud by forging signatures. The case is pending in the court of appeals.

"If I win, Attorney General Schuette will appeal. If Schuette wins, you better believe I will appeal," Hall said.

Hall and Houghtaling are no longer friendly, creating a unique write-in race where Hall's biggest challenge may be trust.

"It is hard to display with how much I love this community how sorry I am for the mistakes I did make," Hall said.

For Houghtaling, his biggest challenge may be the spelling of his unique, 11 letter last name.

"My understanding is that it does not have to be necessary correct, but I would hope people do not butcher it too much," Houghtaling said.

The filing deadline for anyone interested in joining the race as a write in candidate is Friday, October 24 at 4 p.m.


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