EDDINGTON, Maine — A group in town has collected the signatures of 116 registered voters on a petition that asks for the recall of Selectwoman Joan Brooks.
Selectmen discussed the recall petition at their Tuesday meeting, which started with Brooks being nominated and endorsed as the board’s chairperson for another year. She was re-elected to the five-member board in 2014 for a three-year term.
Town Manager Russell Smith read a letter from town attorney Charlie Gilbert that states Maine state law supersedes the town’s recall ordinance, which was put into place in 2000.
Legislation passed in 2011 states that a town official, including selectmen, can be recalled “only if the official is convicted of a crime while the person was in office and the victim was the municipality,” Smith said.
Gilbert suggested that selectmen “deny the request for the recall,” based on the state law, the town manager said.
“So what it’s essentially saying is we have to go with the state law on this,” Brooks said during the discussion.
Selectman Peter Lyford, asked, “So we cannot recall?”
“Not according to state law,” Brooks responded. “We have to rewrite ours. It’s flawed.”
Selectman Michael Shepherd wasn’t convinced.
“This is one person’s opinion,” he said, referring to the town attorney’s letter.
“We can do whatever we want, and it could be challenged in court,” Shepherd added later.
During the discussion, one woman in the audience asked why there is an effort to oust Brooks, but no one could provide specifics.
Deputy Chairman Charles Baker Jr. read a letter, signed “from concerned Eddington citizens,” that was submitted with the petition that provided vague statements about Brooks’ “attitude” and conduct at recent meetings suggesting she broke local ethics guidelines.
Selectmen voted 4-0, with Brooks abstaining, to table the issued until the September meeting. After the vote, Shepherd made an additional statement.
“I agree with Charlie’s assessment, but do not agree that everything is thrown out unless somebody commits a crime,” Shepherd said. “So no town will be able to recall a town selectman unless a law is broken? I don’t think so. Do we want to be the first? That is a discussion for another day.”
During the meeting, the board also discussed a possible resolve about whether to support or oppose the state’s preferred route for the planned Interstate 395-Route 9 connector road. After discussing the resolve, selectmen voted 4-1, with Lyford the lone dissenter, not to take any action.