Firefighter Families Press Pause On Effort To Recall Bridges

Jason Graziadei •

Family members of current and former Nantucket firefighters have decided to pause their effort to formally recall Select Board chair Jason Bridges and remove him from office.

In a statement shared with the Current, the group that had launched the recall petition last month said the Select Board had indicated it was prepared to come to the table with firefighters to address their concerns. While they had obtained the 200 signatures to move on to the next phase of the recall process - which would have required endorsements from at least 20 percent of Nantucket's registered voters - the group is putting the effort on hold.

The statement reads:

" After much consideration, we have decided to pause the effort to recall Jason Bridges as a Member of the Select Board. In the eight months remaining before his term expires, we feel that our time would be better spent on efforts to bring about positive and progressive change in our community and in our local government.

Earlier this summer, we recognized that there was a real communications crisis between the public and our elected officials, and so we organized and took action. After countless letters, emails, phone calls, and even a petition went virtually unanswered, we opted to initiate what we believed was the next step in the process of holding Select Board members accountable - the recall. This recall of an elected official is essentially the only power the Town Charter gives the public to keep elected officials accountable. The Select Board is who we elect to be our voice and they are ultimately responsible for the oversight of town management.

While we have been successful in collecting more than 200 voter signatures for the recall, we have also come to realize during this period that our community is facing a great number of issues stemming from a lack of transparency, government organization, management, and employee morale. We have been told repeatedly that the problems run much deeper and exist within many of Nantucket’s governing bodies.

Initiating the recall process has sparked important conversations about the changes Nantucket needs and why it needs them. We continue to have strong concerns regarding support for our public safety officials from our town management. That being said, we are encouraged by the notion that the Select Board is ready to meet with the firefighters to identify and work towards resolving the issues that have clearly been plaguing the department for many years.

Nobody can do this alone – we know we certainly can’t.

That is why we feel it is absolutely critical at this juncture, that we all - elected officials, town management, and public advocates - work with our first responders to ensure the health and safety of the island of Nantucket and its residents & visitors.

Our goal is to help move our community forward to a place with healthier communication, transparency, a more collective and collaborative process for decision making, and a much better focus on the mental and physical health and safety of the residents of Nantucket. "

The recall effort had been led by Ayesha Barber; Jacquie Buckley; Johanna Townsend; Jamie Zompa; Alli Mitchell ; Sally Barber; Jamie Nass; Leah Davis; Lynn and Bob Bates; Liz Shannon and Mike O’Neil; Kimberley D. Olney; and Jackie and Les Fey.

The process to recall any elected official is outlined in the Nantucket town code, and it is a high bar with multiple steps to move it forward:

  • To start the recall process, 200 registered voters must first file an affidavit with the Town Clerk identifying the name of the person they are seeking to remove from office and stating the specific grounds for the recall. This is where the group attempting to recall Bridges is at this point.
  • Within 10 days, the Town Clerk must certify the signatures and then deliver upon request to any of the certified voters a blank recall petition form naming such voter.
  • Those seeking to recall the elected official must have those recall petitions signed by at least 20 percent of Nantucket’s registered voters within 21 days after the certification date. Nantucket currently has 9,396 registered voters, so a recall petition would require the signatures of 1,879 people. The Town Clerk then has 14 days to certify the signatures to determine if they are sufficient for the petition to move forward.
  • If the number of signatures is determined to be sufficient, the Town Clerk will submit the petition to the Select Board, which will provide written notice to the elected officer being recalled. If that person does not resign within seven days, the Select Board is required to order a recall election to be held during the next annual town election.
  • The next annual town election would feature a vote on the recall of the elected official, as well as a separate vote on their replacement.

In the case of Bridges, whose term is up in 2023, the recall petition would have coincided with the end of his current term.

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