Tiverton recall — Judgement day is at hand

Tiverton voters to decide whether to recall or keep councilors Katz/Coulter

Posted 10/9/19

Tiverton voters will go to the polls (or deliberately stay away) this Thursday, Oct. 10, to decide whether or not Town Council President Robert Coulter and Vice President Justin Katz should be …

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Tiverton recall — Judgement day is at hand

Tiverton voters to decide whether to recall or keep councilors Katz/Coulter

Posted

Tiverton voters will go to the polls (or deliberately stay away) this Thursday, Oct. 10, to decide whether or not Town Council President Robert Coulter and Vice President Justin Katz should be recalled.

The question was put forward by a petition circulated by resident William McLaughlin that stated in part …”Councilor (Coulter/Katz) has knowingly and willfully failed to follow the will of the people in making decisions, has lied to and mislead the voters on issues before the Council and is violating the first amendment right of every citizen in Tiverton by preventing them from free speech to redress grievances with the Town Government.”

For the recall push to succeed, the number of votes cast must be at least 40 percent of the number of votes each candidate won last November when they were elected — and the majority would of those votes would need to be in favor of recall.

In Mr. Coulter’s case, that 40 percent threshold his 808 votes; in Mr. Katz’s case, the total required would be 940 votes.

That has prompted dueling strategies. Those favoring recall are urging voters to turn out and be counted. Allies of Mr. Katz and Mr. Coulter recommend skipping the whole thing.

“If this recall has enough votes to count, it will put the town on a dangerous path, where just disagreeing with voters’ choices is enough to force them to vote again,” writes Mr. Katz in a letter this week. “If the recall is a dud, then maybe people will only try it again when there’s an actual reason.”

Adds Mr. Coulter, “Voting yes or no either way would normalize and weaponize a consuming, expensive recall process for political purposes, which is not what recalls were meant for,

This favoring recall counter that urging people to skip an election is bad advice.

“Sufficient voters felt compelled to attempt to remove councilors and signed the necessary petition. It is not illegitimate or a joke,” writes Deb Pallasch. “It is a reaction to what some believe is mismanagement, cronyism, wastefulness and irreversible damage to Tiverton … Agree or disagree, but exercise the rights given to you by the 1994 founders of our town’s governing Charter.”

Adds Ron Marsh in a letter, “ Make no mistake, we don’t recall a person from public office merely for not doing a good job.  We remove them when they misuse their office.  The charges against the two are well-known and well-published in letters here.” 

Should the recall succeed, Town Clerk Nancy Mello said the seats now held by Mr. Katz and Mr. Coulter would go to those who were the next highest vote getters in the last election (the two who came in eighth and ninth place).

They are Stephen T. Clarke who got 2,003 votes (17 fewer than seventh place finisher Coulter), and John G. Edwards V who won 1,949 votes. Mr Coulter and Mr. Katz would both be eligible to run again in the November, 2020, election.

Ms. Mello said the transition would take place as soon as the Board of Canvassers certifies the election.

On Monday, Ms. Mello said that they have over 100 mail-in and emergency ballots but the final tally could still rise.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 10. Districts 1 and 2 vote at the VFW Hall on Shove Street; Districts 3 and 5 at Countryview Estates on Hurst Lane; District 4 at Town Hall; and Districts 6 and 7 at Amicable Congregational Church.

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