BANGOR, Maine — With just over a month to go, the petition effort to recall five Bangor city councilors has hit a wall and is unlikely to reach the number of signatures needed, petitioner Jim Elmore said Monday.
“I have great sympathy for Jesse Jackson, who likes to keep hope alive. I wish I could do the same,” Elmore said. “But I’m finding that we’re not gaining anywhere near the signatures we’d like to have. So now it’s a question of what do you do. Do you let the clock run out? Do you make a grand announcement of failure?”
Elmore began the recall process in late November with grand ambitions to gather the 2,286 signatures needed to oust councilors Pat Blanchette, Susan Hawes, Rick Bronson, David Nealley and Gerry Palmer. Technically, Elmore has until March 2 to reach his goal, but so far, fewer than 200 signatures have been certified by the Bangor city clerk’s office.
“Even if it were 1,000, it wouldn’t be enough at this point,” Elmore said.
The five councilors facing recall each voted in November to uphold a previous council decision to part ways with longtime City Manager Ed Barrett.
Councilors have said that the reasons for severing ties with Barrett were not controversial. They simply wanted a change. Barrett has since been named the city administrator in Lewiston, and Bangor’s assistant city manager, Bob Farrar, has been appointed interim city manager in the Queen City. The City Council is moving for-ward with plans for a nationwide search to fill its city manager post permanently.
Shortly after his petition was certified, Elmore opened a recall headquarters at 30 Central St. downtown and gathered signatures there rather than opting for a more traditional door-to-door method. Initially, residents were interested in the petition, but the momentum fizzled quickly.
Each councilor has been in agreement that they respected Elmore’s right to request a recall, but they also were committed to moving forward.
Although he admitted his fight is now futile, Elmore still feels as though he did the right thing.
“I felt that something should be done and nobody at that point was doing anything,” he said. “I wish there were more people who came forward.”
Asked whether the effort changed anything, Elmore said he wasn’t sure.
“I have surmised that the vision was never the issue because they still don’t have that,” he said. “I still don’t know what they think they are doing, but hopefully they have become a little more respectful of public attitude.
“If I was on the council, I wouldn’t feel like I won anything.”