BENTON — Organizers planning a recall of a Benton selectwoman may not want to bother, according to an interpretation of the recall law by the Maine Municipal Association.

Elected municipal officials, according to state statute, are subject to a recall petition only if they are convicted of a crime which took place during their term in office and when the municipality is the direct victim of that crime.

Benton resident Gerald Thompson said Tuesday afternoon that several citizens, including him and Tyler Leclair, intended to collect signatures for a recall election of Selectwoman Kimberley Cormier, who was arrested during a protest in November at the Blaine House.

On Wednesday, however, they did not submit information at the Town Office necessary to initiate the process. A call Wednesday to Thompson was not returned by deadline.

Cormier and eight others were charged with trespassing and failure to disperse during a protest Nov. 27 on the grounds of the governor’s residence in Augusta.

About 100 Occupy Augusta members and supporters marched to the governor’s residence that day. They were protesting a state order for the encampment in Capitol Park, which is owned and managed by the state, to get a permit. Nine of the protesters were arrested.

Cormier said she believes civil disobedience is important to bring about change and that she hoped the peaceful Occupy Augusta movement would continue.

Thompson, a self-described social conservative, said because Cormier knowingly broke the law, she wasn’t setting a proper example for young people and wasn’t being a good representative of the community.

Cormier said she posted her bail after her arrest and that one condition of her release is that she stay off Blaine House property.

She said she planned to fight the charges in court.

Eric Conrad, director of communication and educational services at the Maine Municipal Association, said the association routinely provides interpretations of statutes to municipal officials.

“We are here for that and are happy to provide it,” Conrad said, adding that the association annually responds to approximately 6,000 legal inquiries.

First Selectman Ryan Liberty said Cormier has been an asset to the town. He said he respected Cormier for standing up for ideals in which she believes and for doing so in a peaceful manner.

Liberty said he viewed the threat of a recall as conservatives trying to force their beliefs on others.
“If it comes to a vote, I think these people will be surprised at the outcome,” he said.

Benton selectmen have a regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Town Office.
Beth Staples — 861-9252
[email protected]