Another Tiverton recall: Three targeted this time

Recall petitions surface for Patricia Hilton, Denise deMedeiros and John Edwards

By Kristen Ray
Posted 11/15/19

The dust had barely settled from Tiverton’s last recall campaign when a new wave of petitions surfaced this past Friday, November 9, against town council members – newly elected president …

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Another Tiverton recall: Three targeted this time

Recall petitions surface for Patricia Hilton, Denise deMedeiros and John Edwards

Posted

The dust had barely settled from Tiverton’s last recall campaign when a new wave of petitions surfaced this past Friday, November 9, against town council members – newly elected president Patricia Hilton, vice president Denise deMedeiros and councilman John Edwards (who’d been in office less than three weeks).

“In a way I’m not surprised,” Ms. Hilton said on Monday. “But that’s not to say I’m not disappointed that this is where we are … I find it troubling that the basis of this recall is unhappiness of the vote of the people,” Ms. Hilton said. “Elections have results, and those results have meaning.”

Filed by Tiverton Tax Association member Richard Rom, the move comes one month after Tiverton voters successfully ousted former president and vice president, Robert Coulter and Justin Katz, respectively – a first in the town’s history.

As a result, Mr. Rom, with this new attempt, said he aims to “correct the mighty wrong done by overturning the 2018 Town Council general election and to restore the balance of power to that of the 2018 election.”
Mr. Rom listed additional reasons for a recall on his petitions. At their October 28 meeting, Ms. Hilton, Ms. deMedeiros and the newly sworn-in Mr. Edwards had all voted in favor of rescinding a town policy to unseal and release executive session minutes and related records. Before that controversial discussion even took place, Ms. Hilton nearly had Ms. Cook removed from council chambers – saying Ms. Cook was out of line for repeatedly making accusations against her and Ms. deMedeiros in the middle of a council meeting.

“I don’t think council meetings are the appropriate place to play out political squabbles,” Ms. Hilton said of the incident.

According to Mr. Rom, however, those actions “knowingly and willfully failed to follow the will of the people of Tiverton, for overturning the elected town council policy on open government” and, in Ms. Hilton’s case, “silencing free speech of (a) council member.”

Now that those petitions have been filed, Mr. Rom will need to collect a certain number of signatures – in no specified amount of time, according to the town charter – for each councilor to force another recall election: 529 for Ms. Hilton, 558 for Ms. deMedeiros and 488 for Mr. Edwards.

The last recall election cost the town around $10,500, Town Clerk Nancy Mello said; if this latest attempt does indeed get that far, she expects the cost to be roughly the same.

If successful, power would once again swing the TTA’s way – next in line for those three vacant seats are not only Kelly Levesque, but TTA members Raymond Fougere and Mr. Rom himself. Stephen Clarke, who was sworn in on October 14 following the recall election results, is also a member of the TTA.

Ms. Hilton said these political battles only “discourage talented, qualified” candidates for wanting to participate in town government, adding that she will, nonetheless, continue to be a voice for the people of Tiverton in the meantime.

“I think that all I can do is continue to do the job I was elected to do to the best of my ability.”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.