Rowe set for recall election

ROWE — A recall election for a School Committee member takes place Dec. 1, and Chairwoman Lisa Miller’s only challenger on the ballot is Margaret Parent of Shippee Road.

Absentee ballots are now available by calling Town Clerk Jennifer Morse in Town Hall, at 413-339-5520, ext. 14; or at home at 339-4945. The absentee ballots will be available until noon on Nov. 30, but anyone waiting until that date should make arrangements to vote over the counter that day.

The polls will be open on that day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Town Hall.

Morse said a viewing area will be set up for residents who want to observe the polls and the counting. Everyone who wants to view the polls should check in with the election warden on arrival.

Miller, who is married to former Rowe Elementary School principal Robert Clancy, ran uncontested for a two-year unexpired term on the School Committee in 2011 — the year that the school superintendent’s decision not to renew Clancy’s principal contract set off a big controversy in town.

Margaret Parent was also on the annual election ballot that year for a three-year term, but she was defeated by write-in candidate Bill Loomis. in a 76-67 vote.

After Loomis resigned from the School Committee this summer, Parent sought appointment to the school board by the Board of Selectmen, but they instead appointed selectmen’s Chairman Noel Abbott by a one-vote margin, which included Abbott’s vote. In seeking the position, Parent brought in a petition supporting her, which was signed by 52 residents.

Abbott resigned after conflict-of-interest issues were raised, and Parent again sought appointment, but the board appointed Cynthia Laffond to serve out the balance of Loomis’s term, which expires in May 2013.

The recall petition, to replace the incumbent Miller with another elected School Committee member, came within two days of Laffond’s appointment.

The petition calls for Miller’s resignation on the grounds that her participation “is obstructing the delivery of education,” but doesn’t offer any other explanation.

In May 2011, while running for School Committee, Parent told The Recorder she has five children in the Rowe School and was concerned that her opponent, Loomis, wanted to withdraw from the superintendent services that are shared among the Rowe, Hawlemont and Mohawk school districts.

The recall petition had 86 signatures, although only 56 registered voters’ signatures were needed, according to Morse. But some residents voiced concerns after learning that Morse had signed her husband’s name on the petition. Selectmen later received a letter from Brad Morse, saying that he had given his wife permission to sign his name.

Voters will see two questions on the ballot. The first asks if the voter is for or against Miller’s recall. The second gives voters the choice of the two candidates.

“If the overall vote is in support of the recall, then the counting would continue for which candidate will take office until May,” said Morse. “If the overall vote is against the recall, then the counting would end.”

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