Initiatives, Referendums, and Recalls

Kalamazoo voters have the power to bring forth ordinances and amendments through initiatives, prevent ordinances from taking effect through referendums, or recall elected officials.The process and requirements for initiatives and referendums is set by the City Charter. Recall of elected officials is a matter of state law.  


An initiative is a proposed ordinance brought forth by voters in the City of Kalamazoo. A proposal can be submitted to the City Commission by petition signed by a set amount of voters.The petition must have a number of signatures that is at least 15% of the valid ballots cast for Commissioners at the most recent City Commission Election (held in November of odd-numbered years). Signers must be qualified and registered electors in the city of Kalamazoo and petitions must include each signer's address, precinct, and the date signed.

The petition must include the proposed ordinance in full and a request that if the ordinance is not passed by the City Commission, it shall be submitted to a vote of Kalamazoo voters. The petition should also contain any existing ordinances which would be altered or repealed. 

When the petition is filed, the City Clerk will certify the number of qualified signers. If the petition meets the requirements of the City Charter, the City Commission will have 20 days to enact the proposal without alteration or submit it to a vote. The City Commission must call a special election within three months, unless there are already scheduled elections within the next six months. 

More information is available in the City Charter (starting with Section 58).


Kalamazoo residents can protest ordinances that are approved by the City Commission within 20 days of their enactment. Generally, ordinances take effect 10 days after they are approved, so petitions can be filed within 30 days of approval. A petition must be filed with the City Clerk containing a number of signatures totaling at least 15% of the valid ballots cast for City Commissioners in the most recent City Commission Election (held in November of odd-numbered years). The City Clerk shall review the petition and if the requirements are met, the City Commission must reconsider the ordinance at its next regular meeting. If the ordinance is not entirely repealed, it must be submitted to Kalamazoo voters as an initiative would. This vote can take place at the next regularly scheduled election or a special election can be called for this purpose.  

More information is available in the City Charter (Section 63).

Recall of Elected Officials

The process for recalling elected officials is determined by the State of Michigan. Recall petitions must be filed with the State and must include signatures totaling 25% of the number of votes cast in the most recent general election in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled. Signatures must be collected in a 60-day period starting when the first signature is recorded. Petitions must be returned within 180 days.For more information, contact the Michigan Secretary of State.