BOSTON -- The status of Townsend's recall election will go down to the wire as the town awaits court decisions on whether the election can proceed.

Attorneys representing the town, Selectman Cindy King and residents who supported the recall -- scheduled for June 19 -- made arguments Wednesday before state Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth Cypher.

And fellow Selectman Gordon Clark has his own legal challenge to the recall, which is scheduled to be heard on Middlesex Superior Court on Thursday. Clark will be seeking an injunction to stop Monday's vote.

Earlier this month, Justice Mark Green of the state Appeals Court halted the recall against King, writing that the reasons listed in the recall affidavit do not match examples of why a public official can be removed in Townsend under a special act.

Supporters of a recall election in Townsend listen during a Wednesday hearing before a single justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court in Boston. Lowell
Supporters of a recall election in Townsend listen during a Wednesday hearing before a single justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court in Boston. Lowell Sun/Chris Lisinski

Residents supporting the recall appealed the decision, triggering the hearing before a justice of the state's highest court.

Ira Zaleznik, their attorney, argued Wednesday that the Appeals Court justice ruling incorrectly interpreted the special act.

"In the context of case law on recall elections, these (parenthetical reasons in the special act) were meant as suggestions to voters, not the basis for a court challenge to a valid recall," Zaleznik said.

Cypher asked several questions of both attorneys. When speaking with Zaleznik, she said she believed the voters "disagree with positions (King) has or has not taken," which Zaleznik said should be seen as fair grounds.


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Cypher also said she saw burdens created on both sides of the issue, including "the other 90 percent" of the electorate who did not sign the recall petition and would have to go out to vote if they oppose it.

"There are burdens here on the public in the other direction," she said.

John Dombrowski's, King's attorney, argued that the recall should be blocked if its basis is King's decision-making rather than her ability to serve.

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth Cypher listens to arguments about the recall of Townsend Selectman Cindy King during a Wednesday hearing in Boston.
Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth Cypher listens to arguments about the recall of Townsend Selectman Cindy King during a Wednesday hearing in Boston. Lowell Sun/Chris Lisinski

"(In Townsend), you can't be recalled because you're making decisions someone doesn't like," he said. "I think the single justice (of the Appeals Court) got it right."

Attorneys implored Cypher to rule soon with the recall election scheduled for June 19.

King's legal battle has been ongoing for months. A Middlesex Superior Court justice initially declined to issue an injunction against the recall, writing that it should be allowed to proceed, but his decision was overruled by Green at the Appeals Court level.

Lauren Goldberg, an attorney with KP Law representing the town, told the court Wednesday that new ballots were printed for Monday's scheduled recall including only Selectman Clark's name, not King's, following the Appeals Court ruling.

Goldberg asked Cypher to issue a ruling quickly and to clarify, should Cypher reinstate the recall against King, if a new nomination process needed to occur or if the election should proceed as initially scheduled.