MEXICO — The Recall Ordinance Committee agreed on several criteria for the ordinance at its first meeting Wednesday night at the Town Office.

The committee looked through recall ordinances from towns of similar size, including Belgrade, Winterport, Lincolnville, Madison, Sumner and Peru.

Town Manager John Madigan, who acted as an advisor, mentioned guidelines the Maine Municipal Association recommends be included in a town ordinance. They include that the petition calling for a recall election must be signed by a certain number of voters, selectmen must call for an election within a certain amount of time and the number of signatures be high enough to prevent a small minority from forcing frivolous or repetitive recall elections.

After an hour of discussion, the committee agreed on the following criteria:

* A valid petition must have the signatures of at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous gubernatorial election.

* A recall election requires a two-thirds majority to remove someone from office.

* A percentage, yet to be determined, of the number of people who voted in the previous gubernatorial election must vote in the recall election.

Committee member Richie Philbrick, who is chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said, “It’s OK to require 10 percent of the people to sign the petition,” as long as more than that number are required to remove someone from office.

“If they want a selectman out of office, and they’re not doing a good job in the community, the people will show up to vote,” he said.

Committee member Marie Naples agreed, saying she believes it should be a difficult procedure.

“It shouldn’t be easy for a recall election to be held, because otherwise, there would be all kinds of recall elections being submitted,” she said. “If they’re serious about it, they’ll do it.”

The committee also agreed to wait to set the percentage of people who would be required to vote in a recall election.

“The reason they haven’t decided what the percentage is is because they want to see the actual tallies of how many people voted for all of the previous elections,” Madigan said. “That way, they’ll know how many people voted for presidential elections, how many people voted in the gubernatorial elections, and so on.”

The committee also agreed that if one or two selectmen are being recalled, they would be removed from office immediately, and the Board of Selectmen would select someone to fill the vacancy until the next town meeting.

However, if three or more selectmen were being recalled, an election to fill the potential vacancies would be simultaneous with the recall election.

“If the selectmen don’t end up being recalled, then we wouldn’t tally any of the votes from those who were running for the potential vacancies,” Madigan said.

The committee agreed that it was a good clause to add to any potential ordinance.

“We don’t want a situation like what happened in Peru,” Philbrick said. “They recalled a majority of their selectmen, and they were lucky to have someone there to sign the paperwork.”

During an Aug. 29 Planning Board meeting, Albert Aniel attempted to submit a recall ordinance, saying the town “needed an ordinance to be able to remove selectmen if they were not acting in the best interest of the voters, abusing their position, acted inappropriately or were convicted of a crime.”

The ordinance was rejected in a 4-3 vote at that meeting.

Since then, a petition containing nearly 150 signatures was submitted to selectmen, and on Sept. 24 the board voted to have the Planning Board draft a recall ordinance.

The Planning Board voted against drafting it and left it in selectmen’s hands.

On Oct. 8, selectmen voted to create the Recall Ordinance Committee.

The committee agreed to meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, to continue discussion and begin work on drafting an ordinance.

Besides Philbrick, Aniel and Naples, other members of the committee are Selectman Byron Ouellette, Lisa Arsenault, Aaron Cummings, Amanda Hamner, Clifford Stewart and Marjorie Richard.

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