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Recall vote planned in May

November 05, 1997

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

SMITHSBURG - Town residents will get to vote in May on whether to allow for the recall of elected officials before their terms end.

Last month, residents upset over the Aug. 12 firing of Police Chief Tommy Bowers presented town officials with a petition demanding a recall election within 30 days.

But before a recall can take place, the town charter must be amended to allow for the procedure.

The petition, signed by 330 people, requires the mayor and council to put the charter amendment to referendum, said Town Attorney Edward Kuczynski.

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Petition organizers had wanted a special election.

But the mayor and council decided instead to follow Kuczynski's advice and add the amendment issue to the regular ballot for the May 12 election.

Money was a deciding factor.

"It's a costly procedure," said Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers, although she said she didn't know how much a special election would cost.

The town has already spent money on the proposed charter amendment to pay Kuczynski and the Washington County Election Board, she said.

The election board verified that the petition was signed by at least 20 percent of the town's voters.

Under the proposed charter amendment, officials named in a recall petition signed by 20 percent of the voters would have five days to resign. If they refuse to resign, they could remain in office but would have to excuse themselves from all council actions pending the outcome of a special election.

It would take a majority vote to oust an official from public office.

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