On Monday, Mansfield resident Tina Silverio submitted a petition for a recall on selectmen Jess Aptowitz and Kevin Moran.
She said the petition was motivated by long-time concerns over financial problems in the town, as well as the more recent issue of most of the finance committee resigning en masse.
She said she felt that the resignations were the result of a severe lack of communication and transparency between the two boards during the days leading up to town meeting.
Silverio said that the town needs new blood in the board, which is why she started the petition. She said thinks that new members could be better suited to serve the town financially.
Selectman Kevin Moran said that he’s not letting the apparent criticism from the recall petition change his outlook or demeanor in the next few weeks, and he feels he acted in the best interest of the town at that time.
“Am I happy about it? No, does it rise to the level of a recall? I don’t know,” he said. “The fact of it is I supported the budget, I’ve always acted in the best interest of the town and I’ll continue to do so. There’s really not much else I can say at this point.”
Silverio said that she has been criticized in the first days of the week because it was said that she was petitioning this recall over one issue, and it did not merit the expense of having a recall election.
“A lot of people want to focus on the Fincom resigning,” she said. “That’s not the one issue I’m filing the petition for. My issue is why did six of them leave all at one time? What was behind that? I don’t think that six professional people are going to go stomping off in a hissy fit without good reason.”
For a recall election to take place, town clerk Helen Christain said that Silervio needs to obtain 607 signatures from registered Mansfield voters in 20 days from the filing of the original request. Silverio admitted that this may be a difficult venture, since only 840 registered voters turned up for the town election on Tuesday. Moran said he was uncertain at this time as to what he would do if the petition was handed in with the correct amount of signatures.
“At this point, it’s really out of my control,” he said. “I’m not going to worry about things beyond my control. If it comes to an election, I really have not thought about it yet. I’m just going to continue plugging away and we’ll see how things go.”
If the two selectmen do not resign within five days of receipt of the signed petition, then a recall election would be held, which would cost the town an additional $8,000-$10,000.
Silberio brought up the issue of the quick collaboration between superintendent Brenda Hodges and town manager William Ross in creating the most recent budget, which passed by a very slim margin at town meeting with 13 votes. She said that it was unfair, since the finance committee had less than a day to review the budget before the joint Board of Selectmen/School Committee meeting on the subject and less than a week before town meeting.
“I think that they were very disrespected. I think there is a history here, and this is the straw that broke camel’s back,” she said. “There’s been too much going on behind the scenes… You have Ross and Hodges getting together for their [budget meeting] and only Aptowitz and Moran knew about it. What respect does that show for any of their peers? They didn’t include them in the loop.”
She said that she is sick of the rhetoric used in the town government when citizens show their disapproval of policies. She said that every year she’s been in Mansfield, which she admitted is no where near what most “townies” have, there has been a similar discussion on transparency and how officials are moving forward to answer that claim.
“The crux of this all comes down to is this transparency bologna that they’re trying to pass of,” she said. “They throw that word around, this ‘new found spirit of cooperation.’ Well, I have to ask why now. Why just now, what took you so long. How many years has this town been in trouble like this? And just now, ‘oh we’ve decided in the spirit of cooperation that we’re going to get together have group meetings,’ it’s the same crap.”
Silverio said that this kind of thing happens within the board of selectmen itself. She brought up a most recent issue in which the board agreed to extend an initiation to Wednesday’s meeting to the finance committee to see if they would come back to the committee. A post in the Sun Chronicle had two emails, one from Aptowitz and a response from selectman George Dentino. Aptowitz had invited the School Committee to the meeting as well as the Finance Committee, which Dentino said was not discussed at the previous meeting, and wanted the error corrected.
“I don’t think that [Moran and Aptowitz] are of the same mind as the balance of the BOS,” she said. “[Aptowitz] wasn’t speaking for himself, he was speaking for the whole BOS, and that’s why Dentino called him out.”
Silverio said that she does not at this time have any particular person would has expressed that they want to challenge the two potentially incumbent selectmen, but she said that she knows quite a few people who have expressed interest.
“I know there are some people that are interested, but I don’t have any names,” she said. “This is hersay, this is what I hear from my friends and other people, that there are people that are interested. But, given the climate, honestly, I don’t know who would want to run. There is definitely going to be a lot of scrutiny.”
Christian said that she only requested the petition for right now because it is the first step in a recall election, and wanted to make sure the movement could go forward before any following steps were take, but, sooner or later, someone would have to step forward to move the process along.
“There has to be someone running against [the incumbent selectmen] to have a recall election,” she said.