PERU — The Board of Selectmen supported fellow members John Witherell and Wendy Henderson during a public hearing Tuesday night on petitions seeking to recall the two from office.

Residents who signed or circulated the petition did not attend the hearing.

“It speaks volumes that those circulating (the petitions) and those who signed (them) didn’t come tonight,” board member Raquel Welch said.

Residents voiced their concerns about the recall ordinance.

Kevin Taylor, who spoke at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, reiterated his wishes that the ordinance be repealed, and several board members agreed with him.

“I think this ordinance should be revoked,” Selectman Carol Roach said. “I feel the petitions are unfair. Would any of you want to run for the board knowing that you might be subjected to this?”

“We all sit here because we were voted in, and we all try to do the best we can for the town,” Selectman Larry Snowman said. “We don’t need (that ordinance) in this town.” 

Residents also were concerned about the cost of the recall process.

Roach said if one election was held, should the recall fail, it would cost the town about $2,500. If the recall went through and another election is needed to fill the two seats, the cost would be roughly $3,000.

Attorney Amanda Meader, who has helped the board the past few weeks understand their legal duties in regard to the petitions, moderated the hearing.

“She’s worth every cent we’re paying her,” Roach said.

Welch joined Roach and Snowman in showing support for Henderson and Witherell, saying the accusations on the petition, which called Witherell “a bully” and that he “lacked people skills” were unfair assessments of his character.

“The fact is, John is loud — it’s just the way he is — and we argue sometimes, but we agree to disagree,” Welch said. “He stands up for what he believes in and so do I.”

Henderson, although quiet for most of the hearing, defended her actions.

“I’ve always tried to be honest,” Henderson said. “I’ve done nothing illegal and I’m always thinking of the citizens.”

“Wendy does the best job that she can,” Welch added. “(She) was thrown in as chairman of the board. It’s a learning process for all of us. We try to represent the town the best and fairest way we can. (John and Wendy) aren’t guilty of anything other than standing up for what they believe in.”

“I support both John and Wendy, and I hope the recall fails, and I look forward to continuing to serve with them,” Roach said. “I believe that it’s important for the board members to have robust discussions. It’s the only way we’re going to represent the whole town.”

Voters will cast ballots on whether to recall the two selectmen on Nov. 18 at the town hall.

Witherell thanked those who attended, and asked that in the future, residents take their concerns directly to the board.  

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