Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Paul Koenig firstname.lastname@example.org
PITTSTON — Following the sudden firing of the longtime town clerk, hundreds of upset residents are calling for the recall of the three-member Board of Selectmen and the remaining town office staff.
The selectmen voted Wednesday to not reappoint Ann Chadwick as town clerk after an executive session and were met immediately with shouts of protest from a crowd of about 100 at the Pittston Town Office.
Thursday night, the outrage swelled as hundreds of residents waited in long lines outside the fire station to sign petitions calling for the recall of the Pittston town officials.
A small group of Chadwick's relatives and other supporters have gathered more than twice the number of signatures required by town ordinance to trigger a recall of the three board members, according to Laurel Chadwick, Ann Chadwick's daughter.
Chadwick's relatives also want the two town office employees removed because they think the two were involved in Chadwick's firing.
However, the remaining office staff -- Natalie Jackson, administrative secretary to the selectmen; and Rose Webster, interim town clerk, treasurer and tax collector -- can't actually be recalled, because they're appointed by the selectmen, and not elected to their positions.
Tracy Johnson, Chadwick's niece, said they want a temporary Board of Selectmen instated and want it to rehire her aunt as town clerk. She said the group will meet over the weekend to figure out the next course of action and may submit the petitions Monday.
A town ordinance says a recall requires petitioners to present a number of signatures that equals at least 10 percent of Pittston voters who participated in the most recent gubernatorial election -- in this case, 137. Laurel Chadwick said Friday the petitioners have gathered around 330 signatures.
Once a petition has been received, the town has 10 days to certify the signatures and pass them on to the selectmen. The board then has 10 days to order an election by secret ballot, which may be held 30 to 60 days after that.
Chadwick, 75, had worked for the town for more than 20 years.
Selectman Tim Marks, who is also a state representative for the area, told the crowd Wednesday that the decision was "a personnel issue," and he didn't elaborate. He said Friday that board members will issue a statement next week after having a chance to meet.
"There are two sides of the story, and only one side of the story has been heard," Marks said. "The other side will be public shortly."
Chadwick was paid about $31,700 as town clerk last year. Webster and Jackson were paid $35,334 and $30,700, respectively.
Selectmen are paid $5,000 and the board chairman is paid $5,500.
Paul Koenig can be contacted at 621-5663