By Beth David, Editor
There is a mechanism to recall elected officials that is spelled out in the bylaws of both Fairhaven and Acushnet. The language is clearly based on state law/guidelines as both towns have similar language.
In Fairhaven the procedure is spelled out in the “Special Acts” section of the town code, Section A502-4.
Any elected official with at least six months left on his or her term may be recalled. No recall petition can be filed against an officer within six months of taking office.
Fifty or more registered voters need to file an affidavit with the Town Clerk with the name of the officer whose recall is being sought and a statement of the grounds upon with the petition is based.
The town clerk will then give petition blanks to the organizers of the recall petition, and they will be required to collect the signatures of 20%* of the registered voters in Fairhaven. The town has 11,509 registered voters, so the total number of certified signatures would be 2,302.
The petitions must be returned to the town clerk within 14 days. The signatures need to be certified as registered voters within seven days.
Once the signatures are certified, the town clerk is required to submit the petition to the Selectboard. Within 48 hours, the Selectboard is required to notify in writing, the person being recalled. If that officer does not resign within five days of notice, the Selectboard is required to order an election to be held no less than 60 days and not more than 90 days after the date the signatures were certified.
The person who is being recalled may run for this his/her position in the recall election.
On the ballot, the first section will contain two questions, one asking if the voter wants to recall the politician, by name; and one against the recall. Below that will be the name of the candidates. If a majority of voters support the recall, then the candidate votes will be counted, and the candidate with the highest number wins.
The incumbent stays in office while the recall election is being conducted. If he recalled and, for some strange reason, the person who won the recall election “fails to qualify,” the recalled officer must still step down and the seat is vacant.
In Acushnet, the process and timeline are the same, but the numbers are different.
Twenty-five or more registered voters may file the affidavit with the town clerk. The clerk will provide petition blanks for them to collect signatures. They must collect the signatures of 10% of the registered voters. Acushnet has 7,564 registered voters, so the recall petition requires 76 voters. As in Fairhaven, the petitions must be returned within 14 days.
To learn more about the recall process in Fairhaven call the town clerk at 508-979-4492, Ext. 3.
In Acushnet call the town clerk at 508-998-0215
The entire Fairhaven town code is available online at https://ecode360.com/FA1596
The entire Acushnet town charter is available online at https://www.acushnet.ma.us/sites/acushnetma/files/uploads/by-law_book_1-2008.pdf
*Fixes error from previous versions, 20% (not 10).
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