BANGOR, Maine — City Clerk Patti Dubois affirmed affidavits Monday for petitions to recall five city councilors, starting the clock for petitioner Jim Elmore to gather the 2,286 signatures needed.
While Elmore has 60 business days to collect enough signatures to force a recall election, he said he hopes to meet his goal by the first of the year. He even secured a downtown storefront to house the petitions, courtesy of Patty Alcott, who owns the property and leased Elmore the space. The recall headquarters are at 30 Central St. and will be open 1-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday at least through the end of the year.
Elmore also has created a Facebook group to solicit support. As of 5 p.m. Monday, the Facebook group had 22 members.
The five councilors facing recall are: David Nealley, Gerry Palmer, Susan Hawes, Pat Blanchette and Rick Bronson, each of whom voted early last week to uphold a council decision to part ways with City Manager Ed Barrett.
City councilors voted unanimously in late October to approve an agreement that Barrett retire on or before April 30, 2010, and then affirmed the decision last week in a 5-4 vote. Both votes have generated significant interest in the community and have prompted some to wonder why Barrett was asked to retire. Councilors have said that the reasons are not controversial. They simply wanted a change.
Elmore said Monday that his decision to take out petitions was prompted by the council’s handling of Barrett, who managed the city for 22 years, but Elmore also admitted that the discussion has progressed beyond Barrett.
“He’s not looking for anyone to carry his banner and he probably doesn’t want this at all,” Elmore said. “This is about holding [councilors] accountable for their actions.”
Barrett is a finalist for the city administrator position in Lewiston and could leave his job well before the April 30 deadline, in which case Bangor councilors would appoint an interim manager.
Alcott agreed with Elmore that the issue is beyond the city manager. She said her biggest concern is the arrogance displayed by some councilors during the process.
“Hopefully, this will send them a message,” Alcott said.
Councilor Hal Wheeler has been outspoken about his fellow councilors’ responses to the recall, which included an impromptu press conference last Wednesday. The councilors who are facing recall all have said they respect the recall process, but they want to move forward with city business.
Dubois said the recall petitions would be issued to Elmore on Wednesday.
“We encourage the circulators to bring in the lists when they get them. It would help a great deal,” the clerk said.