Sund recall petition needs signatures from his district

  • SUND

Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2019 11:34:28 PM

GREENFIELD — As a petition circulates for the resignation of Precinct 1 Councilor Verne Sund, the signatures in it may not be valid.

The 100 signatures needed to move the recall beyond the first step must be from Precinct 1 residents only, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

The Clerk’s Office learned from state election officials and the city attorney that although the City Charter is not specific on this point, state law requires the first 100 signatures collected to be from Precinct 1 registered voters.

The exact language in the charter is: “One hundred or more voters may file with the Board of Registrars of Voters an affidavit containing the name of the individual precinct elected officer sought to be recalled and a statement for the grounds for recall.”

At first the clerk’s office saw this language as silent on the issue of whether the signatures have to come exclusively from the councilor’s precinct, but further information from the state explains the issue in better detail.

The explanation from the state is that because a precinct councilor has to collect signatures from his or her precinct to get elected, it takes a similar process to begin a recall.

The city has not handled a recall like this before, so the procedure is new.

After 100 signatures from Precinct 1 have been collected, it’s then up to the first 10 signees of the affidavit to go out and collect 20 percent of the total registered voters in Greenfield from the city’s last town election — which tallies to about 2,400 voters — within a 21-day span. Once those signatures are collected and validated, it could then be up to Sund to resign or face a recall election in Precinct 1.

In the 2015 election, which is when Sund was elected to the council by a margin of 23 votes, a total of 493 people voted for one of the two candidates. In 2017, the last town-wide election, 682 votes were cast in Precinct 1 with a total of about 1,300 registered voters.

When speaking about the recall on Monday, Sund defended his role on the council, saying some people support him and that sometimes he says the wrong word, but means the right thing.

“I’m sorry they misunderstand me, but I can’t change anybody’s mind,” Sund said. “I’m not a magician and I’m not a robot. I can’t tell what everybody’s thinking.”

Patty Morey Walker, one of the supporters of the recall who spoke on behalf of it when contacted for comment Monday, said they were calling for it because of his “behavior.”

The affidavit lists three reasons for Sund’s recall, including three public comments he made that have caused a stir among some in the community. Most recently, the affidavit points to his remarks about people in wheelchairs in other countries he’s visited who “no matter whether they’re disabled or not, they go on and get” to and through the library.

“It was that that pushed people over the edge to say enough is enough,” said Morey Walker, who is a program director at Viability in Greenfield, which helps people with disabilities find jobs.

Morey Walker was expecting the hundred signatures could be collected and presented to the clerk’s office by the end of this week. If that is still possible, a call for Sund’s resignation could come in March, while a special election would not occur until April the earliest.


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