TOWNSEND — An election seeking to recall of two Townsend selectmen is on the horizon after residents filed petitions with the town clerk on Monday.
Supporters had been collecting signatures to recall Selectmen Cindy King and Gordon Clark for several weeks after affidavits — the first step in the process — were filed in late February. The group alleges that King and Clark have neglected their duty as selectmen and failed to represent the will of the people.
The filing moves the process along one step closer to a recall election. Within seven days of Monday, the town’s registrar of voters must validate all of the signatures. Town Clerk Kathy Spofford said there were 31 pages of signatures, though not each page was filled.
Once that is complete, King and Clark will have a 48-hour period during which they can choose to resign. If they choose not to resign, the Board of Selectmen must set a date for an election within 60 to 90 days.
In the petitions, which have similar language to the affidavits, organizers allege that King and Clark:
* Neglected their duty to residents by failing to argue on behalf of allowing a public comment period at Board of Selectmen meetings
* Impeded Police Chief Robert Eaton’s ability to do his job by using their positions of authority and imposing their views on day-to-day management of the police department
* Failed to support prior agreements the town reached with Lt. Mark Giancotti
* Neglected to speak for obtaining an official and full background check on an applicant for a senior position with the town of Townsend prior to signing the employment contract.
They also allege that Clark:
* Participated in searches and discussions regarding the hiring of a new police chief while his wife is an employee at the department, giving the impression of bias
* Acted outside the board’s authority and initiated discussions for a separation agreement with retired Police Chief Erving Marshall on his own.
Some of those involved in the latest recall movement had collected signatures last year seeking the removal of Clark and Selectman Carolyn Smart, but that paperwork was never submitted to trigger an election. Smart’s term is up at the April 24 town elections, and she is not running for re-election.
The recall push comes amidst controversy about a town counsel investigation into the police department. Town officials allege that police employees conducted unauthorized background checks on civilians, including a woman who was being hired as the town administrator’s executive assistant. A report from the state Department of Criminal Justice Information Services indicated that check was performed without a proper law enforcement purpose.
However, many residents sympathetic to the recall push allege that the investigation is a “witch hunt” that unfairly targets the police department.
At the Special Town Meeting later this month, citizens submitted articles seeking the termination of Town Administrator James Kreidler and the reinstatement of Sgt. Randy Girard, who resigned amidst town counsel’s investigation.
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