Tiverton councilors Katz and Coulter go to recall vote

Special election set for Thursday, October 10

By Tom Killin Dalglish
Posted 8/14/19

TIVERTON — After weeks of petition and signature gathering activity that began back in April, the Tiverton Board of Canvassers (BOC) by unanimous vote decided at back-to-back BOC meetings Tuesday evening, August 13, that Town Councilors Justin Katz and Rob Coulter will face Tiverton voters at a special recall election on Thursday, October 10.

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Tiverton councilors Katz and Coulter go to recall vote

Special election set for Thursday, October 10

Posted

TIVERTON — After weeks of petition and signature gathering activity that began back in April, the Tiverton Board of Canvassers (BOC) by unanimous vote decided at back-to-back BOC meetings Tuesday evening, August 13, that Town Councilors Justin Katz and Rob Coulter will face Tiverton voters at a special recall election on Thursday, October 10. 
The official count of elector petition signatures calling for the recall for each councilor respectively, and the date for the recall election, were set after the print edition of this week's paper had gone to press.
The three canvassers — Bobby Harris (Chairman), DeEtta Moran, and Paul Amaral — certified petitions carrying 625 validated elector signatures calling for Mr. Katz to be recalled, with 587 signatures needed for his name to be placed on the ballot, according to the town charter.
The canvassers certified petitions carrying 553 validated elector signatures calling for Mr. Couter to be recalled, with 505 signatures needed to place his name on the ballot.
Following the certification, the BOC authorized the town clerk to forward the certified petitions to the state board of elections.
The Board of Elections (BOE) will then certify the ballot questions that will appear on the ballot (for example, "Shall councilor Justin Katz be recalled? " or "Shall councilor Rob Coulter be recalled?" or words to that effect).
It will also certify the selection of polling places.
Because schools are very likely to be in session on Thursday, October 10, schools cannot be used as polling stations.
However, among the places suggested, but not yet decided upon, are the VFW, Amicable Church, Countryview Estates, and Sandywoods.
The BOC meets again on Monday, August 19 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall, at which time final information about the language for the ballot questions and the polling locations will be made known.
At the projected recall election, according to Section 1209 of the Town Charter, "a majority vote of the electors to recall" an elected official shall not be effective unless "a total of at least forty (40) percent of the number of electors in the last election who voted for the person holding that office, shall have voted on the recall question."
In other words, for Councilor Coulter to be recalled, there would first have to be a voter turnout at the recall election of 808 voters (40% of the 2,020 votes Mr. Coulter received in the 2018 election), a majority of which (405 votes) would have to favor the recall of Mr. Coulter.
The numbers are different for Mr. Katz. For him to be recalled, there would have to be a voter turnout of 940 voters (40% of the 2,348 votes Mr. Katz received in the 2018 election) a majority of which (471 votes) would have to favor the recall of Mr. Katz.
According to the charter, if any elected official is recalled, "the vacancy created thereby shall be filled in the manner provided by charter, "which in this case would be (in order), first, Stephen T. Clarke (2,003 votes in 2012) and, next, John G. Edwards (1,949 votes in 2012).
A special recall election, estimates Town Clerk Nancy Mello, would cost in the range of $10,800 — $12,000. There are adequate funds (est. $51,809) in the restricted election account for the purpose she said.
Katz, Coulter react to recall effort
Both Councilors Justin Katz and Rob Coulter were asked if they planned to submit any filings or memoranda regarding the recall effort underway, and to comment briefly about the recall effort or proceedings so far.
Here is how each responded over last weekend.
• Councilor Justin Katz:
"I did not have any plans to file any challenge to the signatures with the Board of Ca nvassers, and clearly the deadline for that has passed.
"Tiverton has long been sensitive to the tone of town politics, and now one faction wants to bring that hostility to the next level by turning in signatures to force a recall election. Recalls should not be used as election do-overs; they should be reserved for serious and proven wrongdoing." 
"The people of Tiverton voted for Town Council in 2018, will vote again in 2020, and shouldn’t have to vote for council every year. In our time in office, we’ve worked to put out the many fires that we inherited, and we’ll continue working to fix the long-term problems that Tiverton faces."
"We want to hear from anybody with questions or concerns. Rob can be reached at (401) 339-3494 or rcoulter@outlook.com; Justin can be reached at (401) 835-7156 or justin@justinkatz.com."
"We ask residents to stay the course and 'reject the recall' by making the deliberate decision not to participate in this harmful political stunt that is based on falsehoods and rumors."
• Councilor Rob Coulter:
"My brief comment is that I'm proud of the work of this council.  It works hard and not just two of us, but all seven of us agree and vote together over 90% of the time.  The candidates who lost the last the election that want a doever should wait until next year like normal."

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