TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The town of Tiverton will hold its first-ever recall election on Thursday.
On the ballot, voters will decide whether to recall Council President Robert Coulter and Vice President Justin Katz.
The petition for a recall was brought forth by former council candidate William McLaughlin earlier this year, writing, “Councilor Coulter has knowingly and willfully failed to follow the will of the people of Tiverton in making decisions, has lied to and mislead the voters on issues before the council and is violating the first amendment right of every citizen in Tiverton by preventing them fro free speech to redress grievances with Town Government.”
A second petition to recall Katz said the same.
In a joint statement to Eyewitness News, Katz and Coulter said:
“This recall effort has no justification other than a political power grab and should not become the new normal. William McLaughlin first went to Town Hall for recall papers in January. At the end of this protracted ordeal, out-of-town special interests are sending dishonest attack mailers and local advocates have stopped even attempting to defend their own lies.”
The recall only counts if a certain number of people vote, total, so we ask Tiverton residents to make the informed choice not to vote. Our terms are only two years, and there’s only one more left. Judge us on our success next November. If a small group of people who’ve opposed us all along manages to reach the minimum, then we’ll begin the campaign for 2020 the next day.”Council President Robert Coulter and Vice President Justin Katz
Voters will be able to choose “yes” to recall Katz or Coulter or “no” to keep them in their current positions.
Town Clerk Nancy Mello said at least 40% of the number of electors that voted for the two men in November will need to cast ballots on Thursday for the recall to be valid.
If voters decide to recall the councilmen, the two candidates who earned the next highest number of votes in November will replace them.
Mello said those men, Stephen Clarke and John Edwards IV, could turn down the positions, in which case the candidate with the next highest number of votes would take their place.
Should Katz or Coulter be recalled, their replacements would assume office after the results of the recall are certified by the board of canvassers, which is likely to happen sometime next week, Mello said.
Mello told Eyewitness News that recall petitions have previously been brought forth in Tiverton, but this is the first time a petitioner has gathered the required number of signatures to trigger an actual election.
Polls are open on Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and are located at the following places:
- Precincts 3301 and 3302: VFW, 134 Shove Street
- Precincts 3303 and 3305: Countryview Estates Community Room, 325 Hurst Lane
- Precincts 3304: Tiverton Town Hall, 343 Highland Road
- Precincts 3306 and 3307: Amicable Church, 3736 Main Road