(Editor’s note: This story corrects an earlier error.)
TOWNSEND — With five weeks to go, the candidates have been set in the June 19 recall election seeking the removal of two selectmen.
Wayne Miller will run for Selectman Gordon Clark’s seat, and former fire chief Donald Kline will run for Selectman Cindy King’s seat. Both King and Clark declined to resign when the recall petitions were filed and will challenge for their positions.
The ballots will ask four questions, according to the town clerk’s office: whether voters wish to recall King, whether voters approve Klein as her replacement, whether voters wish to recall Clark and whether voters support Miller as his replacement. There will also be space left for write-in candidates.
Miller, 49, is a business development director at Biomedical Polymers in Gardner. He said he is running in response to recent political upheaval in Townsend.
“I’ve never held office before, so this would be my first, and I have no allegiances or biases toward any town groups,” he said. “I’m just a concerned citizen.”
Miller said he believes the recent town counsel investigation into the police department was “mishandled,” but he said he would wait until after the election to determine whether he supports any action in response.
He said he wants to improve communication and open debate, and if elected, he plans to push for a new hiring process.
“I think the first thing is to adopt a personnel process on the hiring of people and vetting for the major town positions like police chief, fire chief, town administrator,” he said. “I don’t think those have been handled very well in the past five years.”
Klein did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
In recent months, King and Clark have faced criticism over the town’s handling of matters at the police department. Police employees were investigated by town counsel for allegedly conducting an unauthorized background check on Town Administrator Jim Kreidler’s assistant and her significant other. Then-Police Chief Robert Eaton was placed on paid administrative leave and later fired for allegedly interfering in the investigation.
A group of residents protested many of the developments, calling the town’s investigation a “witch hunt” unfairly targeting the department. and began collecting signatures on recall petitions shortly after Eaton was placed on paid administrative leave in February.
If both recall elections are successful, all three selectmen who were involved with the town’s investigation would no longer be on the board.
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