A citizens group on Tuesday filed petitions in Delaware County Common Pleas Court in hopes of removing two Liberty Township trustees from office.

The removal for cause petitions were filed against Trustees Melanie Leneghan and Michael Gemperline for what some residents say are their efforts to dismantle the township's emergency services and outsource it to the county.

The township's fire and EMS department has 56 full- and part-time firefighters and serves both the township and city of Powell. The group alleges that 32 cross-trained staff risk losing their jobs if the county takes over EMS functions.

Despite often vocal objections from residents, Leneghan and Gemperline "continued on a reckless course" that included removing the department's long-time medical director, awarding a no-bid contract for new medical director services and hiring a new township administrator, Michael Schuiling, despite his not meeting minimum qualifications for the job, according to a news release from the group Save Liberty Fire/EMS.


"These actions alarmed residents and drove them to examine the way Trustees Leneghan and Gemperline acted in their official capacities."

Both trustees maintain that they have done nothing wrong and merely want to improve quality of services and save taxpayers' money.

Petitions, each with 4,062 signatures — more than 1,500 more than required by law — were filed for each trustee detailing nine claims of misconduct in office against Leneghan and five against Gemperline.

Leneghan has threatened legal action against those who signed the petitions without reading the 20-plus pages of the complaint.

On Tuesday, Leneghan, who admittedly had not read the complaint, said that it had no basis and was organized by "political enemies on the left."

She said her critics "only care about gaining power and obstructing progress."

Gemperline did not immediately return calls for comment.

A Delaware judge would need at least one valid claim against a trustee to be removed from office, said Nico Franano, the group's spokesman, who has retained elections attorneys to assist the effort.

Franano called the petition effort a way to "end an era of reckless and self-serving management in Liberty Township by two rogue trustees and move toward a fresh start for our community."

According to state law, once the petitions are filed and certified by the county board of elections, a removal hearing must be held within 30 days.