Linden Mayor Danielle Cusson said she is “proud” of how the city responded Tuesday, Aug. 2 after a suspicious package was reported at the city polling location, the Faith Baptist Church on Silver Lake Road.
After the package was reported at about 1:30 p.m., Linden police, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad were on scene to investigate.
Linden Police Chief Scott Sutter said he determined that the building would need to be evacuated for the safety of the voters and the election workers while they investigated a suspicious backpack.
The MSP’s bomb squad was able to determine after using the bomb robot that the items in the backpack were not explosives. A search of the building and the grounds was conducted by the MSP bomb squad, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office bomb dogs and the FBI and it was determined the building and the grounds were safe. First responders discovered that the backpack had been left in the building innocently. The owner of the backpack was located and interviewed.
City Manager Ellen Glass said the incident closed the polling location for approximately six hours. Personnel set up an emergency voting area at city hall.
“Our staff and election workers were able to ensure that every individual who wanted to vote was able to do so,” she said. “It was an unfortunate situation but our election workers, entire city staff, and first responders handled the situation exactly the way they should have. We can’t risk the health and safety of staff or our residents.”
Deputy Clerk Kristyn Kanyak said there were only a few voters in the building at the time. Everyone was advised to leave immediately and the doors were locked.
“We adhered to guidance provided from the Bureau of Elections to offer our voters the option to be issued Absent Voter Ballots at City Hall. We worked swiftly to set up a secure voting area within our Fire Department’s Fire Bay. Qualified staff processed voters at the front desk, asked for proper identification and completed an application for their ballot; as they would have at the polling location. The process from start to finish took about the same amount of time that it would to be issued a ballot at the polling location,” she said.
“I am proud of how the city responded,” Cusson said. “Everyone stepped up to make sure the situation was investigated and voting could take place. This situation needed to be taken seriously and was handled in a way to keep our election workers and residents safe.”
On the Linden Aug. 2 ballot was a question for votes on whether to amend the city charter and create a permanent 5-mill police and fire millage. It passed. Of the 1,121 votes on this proposal, 638 (56%) were yes votes and 483 (43%) were no votes.
Cusson said, “I am pleased the millage passed. I look forward to us moving forward with our strategic planning.”
Glass said, “This is going to make a positive impact on the future of the city of Linden, especially ensuring future funding for police and fire. But we have a lot of hard work ahead of us to prioritize and address the critical needs of the city.”