MBTS' Recall Article At Town Meeting Deserves A Closer Look


To the Editor,

Manchester by the Sea will consider a recall petition at the upcoming special town meeting.  Apparently, from a discussion I had with the the Chair of the Select Board…their 4-1 non-endorsement of a recall stems from concerns of the motivations behind recalls.

I plan to introduce a recall petition in Rockport in Spring 2023 town meeting and have done research on the 81 communities in Massachusetts that have approved recall provisions. Every town or city requires a statement of grounds for recall, but as I communicated to the Manchester by the Sea Select Board recently, the Town of Newbury, Mass., has a specific clause in its recall by-law that protects public officials from being recalled solely by virtue of unpopular votes.

Section 1 of Newbury's recall bylaw states; “A holder of an elected office in the town of Newbury may be recalled therefrom by the qualified voters of the town as provided in this act for any of the following reasons: lack of fitness; neglect of duties; corruption; misfeasance or violation of oath. Exercising discretion in voting or acting on matters before such office holder shall not be a reason for recall.”

I hope MBTS voters and its Select Board will consider valid grounds for recalling elected officials by approving a citizen petition with the necessary language to allow recall for justified causes.  Of the 81 communities in Massachusetts, few have actually recalled officials, but it does happen and for good reasons. A Rowley recall of a town official garnered a 10 to 1 vote in favor of recall.  Adopting language similar to Newbury by-laws would provide the balance necessary to ensure recall is limited to situations required for the public good.

Zenas Seppala


zenas seppala, newbury, massachusetts, recall, recall by-law, rockport, select board