Effort to recall city councilors runs out of time

Posted March 03, 2010, at 8:03 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The petition effort to recall five Bangor city councilors has reached its final deadline well short of the 2,286 signatures needed, according to City Clerk Patti Dubois.

“I think we received about 200 for each petition, but we didn’t bother to certify them,” she said.

Petitioner and city resident Jim Elmore already had conceded in late January that the effort was doomed to fail, but he let the clock run out anyway.

“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.”

Elmore began the recall process in late November with grand ambitions to gather the signatures needed to oust Councilors Pat Blanchette, Susan Hawes, Rick Bronson, David Nealley and Gerry Palmer. Those five councilors voted in November to uphold a previous council decision to part ways with longtime City Manager Ed Barrett.

Assessing the failed recall attempt, Nealley said Wednesday that he always trusted the wisdom of Bangor’s residents.

Bronson assessed the recall effort by quoting Winston Churchill. “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result,” he said.

Councilors have repeatedly 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 in the middle of a nationwide search to fill its city manager post permanently.

Shortly after his petition was certified by the clerk’s office in early December, Elmore opened a recall headquarters at 30 Central St. He gathered signatures there instead of opting for the more traditional door-to-door method. Initially, he said, residents were interested in the petition, but momentum fizzled quickly.

Each councilor named in the petition said they respected Elmore’s right to request a recall, but they didn’t spend much time worrying about it.

Bangor’s last recall effort was in 2003, when resident Arvilla Verceles attempted to remove seven of nine councilors who supported the city’s contribution of $381,000 to improvements at Husson College’s baseball complex. Those efforts failed to gather the minimum number of signatures needed to force an election.

Asked whether his recall effort changed anything, Elmore said he wasn’t sure.

“I still don’t know what they think they are doing, but hopefully they have become a little more respectful of public attitude,” he said.

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