Jean Syria and Susan Smiley recall, Lancaster, Massachusetts (2014)

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An effort to recall selectmen Jean Syria and Susan Smiley in Lancaster, Massachusetts from their positions was launched in January 2014.[1] The recall election took place on November 4, 2014.[2] Syria and Smiley were both recalled.[3]

Lancaster resident Frank Leonard spearheaded the recall effort following a December 31, 2013 vote by Syria and Smiley not to renew town administrator Orlando Pacheco's contract.[1]

Recall results

The following tables are based on unofficial results:[3]

Jean Syria Recall
DefeateddJean Syria (Incumbent) 563 22.6%
ApprovedaJennifer Leone 1,928 77.4%
Susan Smiley Recall
DefeateddSusan Smiley (Incumbent) 765 30.5%
ApprovedaEugene Christoph 1,743 69.5%

Selectmen response

Syria and Smiley maintained they would not resign to avoid the recall election. Cautioning against the potential ramifications of a recall election on elected officials, Syria said, "No one's ever going to make a tough decision for fear of being recalled, and no one's going to run for office."[1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in Massachusetts

On January 18, 2014, Leonard reported that 131 of the signatures collected had been verified and that he had a total of 200 signatures on hand. He planned to collect a total of 250 signatures in the event that any signatures were rejected.[1][4] On January 27, 2014, town clerk and registrar Susan Thompson informed the selectmen that enough signatures had been verified to force a town meeting and an article on the warrant seeking a recall. Following approval at a town meeting, the measure went before the state legislature. The state senate approved the recall on May 15, 2014.[1][5][6] On June 9, 2014, the state house approved the recall legislation, which was then signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Recall proponents needed to collect signatures equaling 10 percent of registered voters in the town in order to trigger a recall election.[7] Petitioners filed affidavits to begin the recall process on June 24, 2014.[8] They had until July 24, 2014, to turn in 471 signatures. Petitioners turned in 571 signatures on July 10, 2014.[9] A July 16 meeting of selectmen was cancelled due to lack of quorum after Syria and Smiley did not show up. The town clerk planned to present the 571 verified signatures for the recall at this meeting.[10] The signatures were presented on August 1.[11] The recall election took place on November 4, 2014.[2]

On November 7, 2014, resident Shawn Winsor wrote a public letter accusing former clerk Sue Thompson of obtaining resident contact information while still in her public position. Thompson emailed town residents encouraging them to recall Syria and Smiley.[12]

Additional reading

See also