For the city of Waterville, or any city, a petition to recall an elected mayor is the municipal equivalent of an act of impeachment. It should only be done for very serious reasons. The oft-cited “high crimes and misdemeanors” is the usual basis for an impeachment. Though this is a fairly general concept, it does indicate a presumed degree of legal seriousness that then needs to be formally adjudicated.

The recent recall action in Waterville seems to be based on a vague, standard of personal sentiment: “I/we don’t like him, don’t like his off-hours comments,” “He has offended me/us.” This is a highly personalized standard for judging an elected mayor, or any elected official. Implicitly it would seem to require a perpetual “recall caucus” of vigilantes who would scrutinize all of a mayor’s public and private speech and be ready at a moment’s notice with recall petitions for those mayoral words that hurt feelings.

The impact of this sort of recall vigilantism will inevitably be chaos in government and use of a serious governmental corrective tool for trivial, personal, sentimental actions — at the expense of the larger public.

My advice to the Waterville recall vigilantes would be to grow up. Bruised feelings are a normal part of the political landscape, and civic life is not improved by recall drama. Waterville does not need a politically correct inquisition.

Jerry Collins


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