Litchfield voters are now able to petition for the recall of elected officials, after an ordinance was passed with little discussion Tuesday evening by more than 100 voters at a special town meeting.

Under the new ordinance, any resident who has collected enough signatures — more than 10 percent of the number of voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election — can call for the removal of an elected Litchfield official and trigger a townwide recall vote to be held in the following couple of months.

The ordinance went to a vote Tuesday night at Libby-Tozier School after a group of residents circulated a petition for the recall mechanism and resident Eric Seaman presented it to selectmen on Aug. 22.

The petition received 257 signatures, surpassing the required number to be brought forward by the selectmen: 172, or 10 percent of the voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election.

The selectmen then drafted their own version of the ordinance that included much of the original language, but with a few additions that clarified it would apply to current officials, among other things.

They made those additions after receiving a legal opinion and hearing from residents at a public forum on Sept. 26 who wanted to ensure the ordinance could apply to any current official, Mark Russell, chairman of the Select Board, told voters Tuesday.

Russell and meeting moderator Earle Lamoreau received just a few procedural questions during the meeting. No one voiced opposition to either proposal.

Voters rejected the ordinance proposed by the citizens before approving the selectmen’s version Tuesday evening. Nearly all of the meeting’s attendees raised their hands in support of the selectmen’s version, but one woman did appear to raise her hand in opposition to the ordinance.

Last week Russell said he didn’t know who led the original petition drive. Asked if he thought the petition was created for the purpose of ousting a current official, he continued, “I don’t know, other than saying that I suspect it does, but I don’t know for sure.”

Russell declined to comment about which officials the petitioners might want to remove.

The town previously did not have a way to remove elected officials for reasons other than criminal activity, Russell said.

The new ordinance does not apply to members of the Regional School Unit 4 board of directors.

Last week, Seaman, the resident who presented the original petition to selectmen, said he supported it because Litchfield’s elected officials needed to be held more accountable.

He also expressed frustration about the town’s current management but did not go into specifics about what changes he would like to see.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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