By DAN TOMASELLO and MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — The Board of Registrars set the town election recount for Saturday, May 2. The recount will be held at the Al Merritt Media and Cultural Center at MarketStreet beginning at 8 a.m.
Town Clerk Trudy Reid informed the Villager Tuesday morning the recount requested by Katy Shea will be conducted by hand as petitioned. Reid and Board of Registrar members Bob Casoli and Kendall Inglese will oversee the recount. Representatives of the campaigns of both Shea and Selectman Chris Barrett will be present at the recount.
While Reid said the public can watch the recount take place, she said, “Those (required) in the recount area will be admitted first.”
Reid informed the Villager she anticipates the recount will cost between $2,000 and $5,000. She said the funds will be needed for election employees to undertake the recount. The funds will also be used for legal services provided by Town Counsel Tom Mullen and to pay for a police detail.
“It might take between four and five hours to do the recount,” Reid added.
Before Monday’s Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen failed to appoint a fourth member to the Board of Registrars to help oversee the recount because Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford and Selectman Tom Terranova could not agree on who should be appointed.
The Board of Registrars should have four members, including Reid, who serves on the board because as required by state law, but there is currently a vacancy. The board has three members who are appointed and the board is not supposed to have more than two members from any one political party.
Four names were recommended to the selectmen to appoint to fill a vacancy: Republican Jodene Sanford, unenrolled Wayne Shaffer, Democrat Karen Colbert and Republican Lauri Priestley. Priestley withdrew before the meeting because she would not be available for the recount.
Barrett recused himself from the Board of Registrars vote after it was recommended by Town Counsel Tom Mullen. Shea’s camp and Terranova both insisted Barrett recuse himself because he is a town employee. Selectmen are considered town employees because they receive a small stipend.
Crawford nominated Sanford and Terranova nominated Colbert. However, since the two selectmen could not agree on which member to appoint, the situation could not be resolved.
Potential legal action
In addition to Saturday’s recount, Shea’s attorney, Bradford Keene, may consider seeking a preliminary injunction to void the April 13 election results.
In a letter Keene sent to Mullen on April 25 that was obtained by the Villager, Keene states, “We believe the procedural, structural and Constitutional defects inherent in (the) election require that it be voided and a new election conducted.”
In a phone conversation with the Villager on Tuesday morning, Mullen said, “I have had quite a few communications with attorney Keene since last Friday. He contends the election was fatally flawed because he says the town clerk should not have participated in the election process because she is up for re-appointment by the selectmen later this year. He believes that creates a conflict of interest.”
According to Mullen, the State Ethics Commission has granted exemptions for town clerks such as Reid because they oversee elections regardless of whether or not they are appointed or elected.
“If a town clerk is elected, the town clerk will be on the ballot every three years,” said Mullen. “If a town clerk is appointed, the names of the people who appoint the town clerk are on the ballot every three years. It would be burdensome to say every three years a town clerk cannot participate in an election.”
Mullen also said Keene maintains Reid was not properly appointed to the Board of Registrars, but Mullen said state law requires town clerks to serve on Board of Registrars.