Petition Drive Forces a Recall Election

Special recall election to take place between 60 and 90 days.

Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen announced Friday on the Chelmsford town website that the Board of Registrars certified the necessary 10 percent signatures to force a recall election of four Board of Selectmen members on the recall petition.

The board members to be included in a recall election include George Dixon, Matt Hanson, Jon Kurland, and Pat Wojtas. According to Cohen, 2,363 signatures are necessary to account for 10 percent of the registered Chelmsford voters.

“The Board of Registrars have certified the following respective amounts of recall petition signatures: George Dixon: 2,504; Matt Hanson: 2,537; Jon Kurland: 2,523; and Pat Wojtas: 2,495,” Cohen wrote.

According to the Town Charter, the town clerk has five business days from the date of the recall signature certification to submit notice of the certification to the Board of Selectmen. The Board of Selectmen has five business days from the time it is notified by the town clerk to schedule a recall election, provided members do not decide to resign.

The Board of Selectmen will most likely schedule the recall election at its upcoming meeting to take place on Monday, May 23, according to Cohen. The Town Charter specifies that a recall election must take place between 60 and 90 days from the time that a recall effort has been certified by the town clerk.

“If any other town election is to occur within one hundred days after the date of the certificate, the selectmen shall postpone the holding of the recall election to the date of such other election,” according to the Town Charter.

The Town Charter outlines exactly how the recall ballot will be worded:

“The form of the question to be voted upon shall be substantially as follows: "Shall [here insert the name and title of the elective officer whose recall is sought] be recalled?"”

Town officers are recalled by a simple majority of affirmative votes in the recall election. If a town officer is not recalled, the Town Charter states that no recall petitions can be filed against said officer for at least 90 days.

Town reps recently voted in T to amend this provision of the recall effort, so that, if passed by the State, no recall petitions can be filed against an officer for at least one year who is not recalled in a recall election.

Jerry Loew May 18, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Hello Jon: I would like to come to Brickhouse and will try to make it. Thank you for the offer. Here is my question. In the August 2010 Open Meeting when the selectman took a vote on whether to put the qpreservation question to Land Court, many people asked why the land could not be taken by emminent domain, Now according to what I have read, the selecman knew before the final purchase that the bank had said that they were willing to talk to the town about purchasing the property. No official at that meeting said , that at some point we could have potentially purchased the land but we did not entertain it because....... I have heard some reasons on the street but they all seem to be weak to ridiculous. Can you answer this for me? It would be very helpful to me. Thank You, Jerry Loew
Jon Kurland May 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Jerry - In order to take land by eminent domain the town would have had to pay fair market value which would have been $480,000 and that would have included the Emerson House which was part of the same parcel. We did not want the Emerson House and we have no use for that building. It is an historical building that would have cost untold amounts of money to repair and it made no sense to purchase a building of this historical importance only to watch it deteriorate as we are seeing with the Dutton House. Epsilon has the resouces and determination to maintain this building. We do not. Moreover, at the time that Epsilon was buying the parcel the Town had no interest in the land (except a small strip behind the fire station that the bank would not sell to us) because the Town, like everyone else (including the bank's attorneys, apparently) believed the parcel was not buildable. Jerry, I think you, like many others, believe that this recall is about North Road. It clearly is not since I voted against the project yet I am being recalled as well and I did EVERYTHING I could to oppose this project. Roland said it himself in an article in the Lowell Sun the other day. This is about getting rid of Paul Cohen. Roland is using North Road as a pretext for the recall since he thinks a new Board will fire Paul. If you can attend, I will welcome it.
Jerry Loew May 18, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Hello Jon: I am still trying to understand. Eliopoulis is in negotations to buy this land, Paul and the Selectman know it (yes?). And you think is is unbuildable? You are telling me you were tricked? And you all know Eliopoulis well. Besides if the town bought it back to both preserve and use a small piece for the fire station couldn't the town bring it to town meeting to rescind that part of the preservation act for the sake of the fire station? Its the town that made the preservation act in the first place upon selling the land correct? I don't think people in the town would begrudge this strategy. Lastly, I have not seen it answered satisfactorily whether Eliopoulis was a sitting selctman or not at the time and if he recommended against the town buying the land which would be a clear conflict of interest. (I think this last one is on of the reasons why many people would like an investigation). Thank You, Jerry
Jon Kurland May 19, 2011 at 08:27 AM
Jerry _ It is too bad that that you did not make it to the Brickhouse last night since I could have answered all of your questions. I had avery good discussion with Jim Molinari and John Tubirdy. I was not on the Board of Selectmen when this transaction took place so I was not "tricked" because it was not on my radar at the time. Yhis was a private sale from a bank to a private business. Everyone, including the bank's attorneys and appraisers thought that the PR would preclude construction. Even if we thought the land was buildable we had no intention of buying the Emerson House since it was in a state of disrepair as I stated above in a prior comment. Moreover at that time we were scrambling to addreess the most serious financial crisis in town since our budget had just been cut midway through the fiscal year by the Governor. The State Ethics Commission reviewed Phil's conduct in this transaction and found that his conductr met their high standards. The letter from the State Ethics Commission is on the Town website. Finally, the recall is NOT about North Road. It is about a personal vendetta that RVL has against Paul Cohen. If it were truly about North Road neither Pat nor I would be involved with the recall since I voted against thew project and Pat didn't vote at all since she wasn't on the Board. Since you chose not to meet with me and since North Road is a red herring in this recall, I see no point in further discussing North Road.
John Doe December 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Jon, I've never seen a lawyer with such a horrible understanding of the law. In fact, your understanding of the law is so flawed, that I have to wonder if its a lack of understanding or a purposeful misrepresentation.


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