SCARBOROUGH – Voters will decide in November whether they should be allowed to recall elected town officials.

The Town Council decided Wednesday to put the recall provision and other proposed amendments to the town charter on the ballot.

Councilors made the recall process slightly more difficult by changing one of the rules recommended to them by the Charter Review Committee.

The committee recommended that, for a recall election to be valid, the number of voters participating must equal at least 25 percent of the voters in the previous gubernatorial election, a figure that now stands at 2,207.

Councilors voted 6-0 to increase the required voter participation to 30 percent.

The decision followed a debate about whether the recall rules were too lenient or too stringent.

Councilor Karen D’Andrea proposed lowering the figure to 15 percent, and Councilors Jessica Holbrook and Carol Rancourt supported her. Councilors Ronald Ahlquist, Judith Roy and Michael Wood were opposed.

The vote was reversed for Wood’s proposal that the requirement be increased to 40 percent.

The Town Council now has six members rather than its full seven because of the resignation of Shawn Babine in July.

The other requirements for a recall were left as the committee crafted them.

It would take 25 or more voters to initiate a recall petition. A vote would be held if, within 20 days, they could have the petition signed by the equivalent of 25 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election.

D’Andrea said that requiring a turnout of 25 percent on top of the other requirements would make recall too difficult.

“If voters decide to do this in August or decide to do this in January, the chance of turning out that many people in an off-election time, again, is nearly impossible,” she said.

Wood argued that many voters turn out when the town rallies around an issue, as they did when they overturned Town Council approval of the Great American Neighborhood development in 2003.

“Twenty-five percent is too low because I believe recalling an elected official is a very serious effort or activity that should require a very high threshold,” he said.

The compromise started to jell when it became clear that a deadlock was possible, meaning no recall provision would be on the ballot.

“At this point, we should let the voters speak,” D’Andrea said.

The Charter Review Committee also struggled before it reached its voter requirement figure, said Kerry Corthell, vice chairwoman of the committee and a Town Council candidate.

“You might say we’ve done our job appropriately because many people believe it is too hot or too cold,” she said.

Another question on the Nov. 2 ballot will ask voters to decide whether the charter should provide a way for residents to overrule Town Council decisions on the conveyance of town property valued at more than $400,000.

On Wednesday, an effort to lower the figure to $100,000 was unsuccessful.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]