Town counsel: Separate affidavits needed in Townsend selectmen recall

Selectmen Gordy Clark and Carolyn Smart are the subjects of a recall petition in Townsend.

TOWNSEND — Efforts to force a recall election for two selectmen hit a bump in the road after town counsel reviewed the town’s law.

“(T)he Recall Act contains many procedural requirements,” wrote Lauren F. Goldberg of Kopelman and Paige, the town counsel.

A separate recall affidavit must be filed for each individual and must include a statement of grounds for the recall, in her opinion.

On Monday, Nov. 9, Kelly Kelly filed a single affidavit with the town clerk for both sitting selectmen, Gordy Clark and Chairwoman Carolyn Smart.

Town Clerk Kathy Spofford said she got a call at home from town counsel on Wednesday to touch base about the affidavit. She called Kelly to tell her of the requirements.

On Nov. 16, the day before a special town election to fill a vacant selectman’s seat, Kelly was ready to move forward. She said she should have the affidavits, one for each selectmen, so that volunteers can collect signatures outside the polling area.

The process, if it goes forward, could involve Smart as a selectman and through her job as assistant town clerk. She was present in the office when Kelly first filed and Spofford accepted the paperwork.

If enough signatures are collected, the town clerk and Board of Registrars must certify the signatures. In town counsel’s opinion, the affidavit should be forwarded to the Board of Registrars within 25 hours and be certified within seven days.

The town’s recall act calls for a minimum 10 percent of the registered voters with at least 125 from each precinct, said the town counsel’s email.

“Obviously, we’re going to go for much higher,” Kelly said.

If enough signatures are certified, currently 614 are required, a recall petition addressed to the Board of Selectmen is filed.

Once again, Kelly said the volunteers would need to collect a minimum of 614 signatures. They plan to ask signers of the affidavit for contact information to make the second round easier.

The petitioners have 21 days to submit the second round of paperwork. The town clerk has 25 hours to submit the petition to the registrars who must certify the signatures within 7 days.

The petition is then filed with the Board of Selectmen and a notice sent to the person(s) to be recalled. If the process goes that far, a third member will be on the board, elected on Nov. 17.

If the official does not resign, the recall question is placed on the ballot, nomination papers are issued and a recall election held, the email said.

At least 25 percent of the registered voters must participate to recall an official, the Townsend act reads.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.