Lawrence City Councilors Laplante and Vasquez say it is far too easy to mount a recall election against a city mayor and have submitted a proposal to make it more difficult.
Lawrence Councilor Laplante says that the process of trying to recall a mayor has taken too much time, effort, and resources.
“The time is right to make changes to the recall provision,” said Laplante, noting that five mayors have been subject to recall actions.
“Thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, appeals to the Board of Registrars and Superior Court, and a ton of attention that could be spent on critical city issues has made it necessary to seek changes to the recall process.”
Upon the request of Council Vice President Laplante, City Attorney Charles Boddy sent a memo with proposed language to clarify the recall process.
“If we adopt these clarifying changes,” said the City Council Vice President, “it would significantly reduce the need for the arduous and lengthy appeal process that has burdened our city.”
In addition, Laplante said that he will propose to change the recall requirements at the full council. Currently, 100 signatures from voters is required to begin the recall process. He will propose increasing that requirement to 250. “It takes 250 signatures to get on the ballot to run for mayor,” said Laplante. “It makes sense to have that same amount to begin a mayoral recall.”
Lastly, acquiring 15% of the signatures from total registered voters is the amount to get a recall question on the ballot. Laplante says that bar should be higher. “We should double the amount required to get to a recall election,” he said. “Boston needs 50% of voters to support a recall. That is too high. We should require 30% of registered voters to achieve a recall election. Unfortunately in Lawrence, the recall tool is the vehicle of first resort rather than the last. It should not be easy to recall a mayor.”
Any of these changes, if adopted by the City Council and approved by the Mayor, would need final approval by the State Legislature and Governor through a home rule petition.