Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Recall Option - Democracy or Intimidation?

At the North Kingstown town council meeting on February 13 there was discussion of adding recall to the town charter.

It is not currently legal for a group of citizens to require a recall election. Councilor John Patterson has suggested that the Council request the Charter Commission explore the possibility of recall and report back to the Council for discussion and a vote. Councilor Mark Zaccaria opposed the recall proposal for several valid reasons, all of which must be considered should recall become a reality. Councilman Ed Cooney offered that a two year term instead of the current four year term might be a solution.

Recalling an elected official must not be so easy that petitions become frivolous and personal - (elections cost money to the tax payers). Elected officials must be able to do what they believe is best for everyone without fear of being targeted for recall by a special interest group. The requirements for a recall petition should insure that recall is done only under the most dire circumstances.

A shorter term might be counterproductive since, as Mr. Bill Mudge pointed out, it does take time to learn about the job before one becomes truly productive and effective.

On the other hand, if citizens believe that an elected official is not performing in the best interests of the people or is an impediment to the performance of the committee on which he or she serves, is it not their right, their duty, to remove that individual? Wouldn't it be nice if all candidates could be rated as to their qualifications to serve on the committees for which they seek election before they are elected?

Democracy can be dangerous if the majority of those who vote have very narrow interests, or are ill informed on the issues or the candidates themselves don't have the qualtites needed to effectively discharge their very serious obligation to the people .

But maybe that's just me.

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