VAN BUREN – Residents claiming unfair actions by the chairman of the Van Buren Town Council have started the petition process to remove him from office.
Residents have 30 days to sign a petition located at the town office. Town Clerk Rachel Ouellette said Friday that 182 people need to sign the petition. If those signatures are gathered, the petition will go to the Town Council for an election to be held in 30 to 40 days.
The petition, which was posted Tuesday, is valid until Nov. 14.
The effort to remove Melvin Madore from office was started by Thomas Cannon, a resident of the town.
To remove an elected public official in Van Buren, an original petition, with signatures of 10 percent of residents voting in the last gubernatorial, must be brought to the town clerk.
Cannon said he gathered 106 signatures in a few days. He needed at least 92.
In return, the town clerk posted a second petition. That one needs 182 signatures and must remain in the town office. People must go the town office and be qualified voters to sign it. The petition remains open for 30 business days.
If the required number of signatures is gathered, Ouellette would have five days to bring the petition to the Town Council which in turn has five days to call an election. The election must be held within 30 to 40 days of the council action.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 60 people had signed the petition at the town office.
Madore said Friday he will not take the effort lying down.
“I guess I’m too honest for some people,” he said. “They are calling me a liar and all kinds of things.
“I don’t think they will get the names they need,” he said. “They had to go house to house to get the names they needed on the first petition.”
Madore has written a letter he hopes to get published in local newspapers defending his positions. He said he will let residents of Van Buren know where he stands.
“I will explain the issues,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
“He’s not following the will of the people,” Cannon charged Friday. “People are fed up with what is going on.
“I am optimistic that we can get the 182 signatures,” Cannon said. “At this time it is for the chairman only, but we will see how this turns out.”
Cannon claims Madore has removed the public comment period from Town Council meetings claiming residents were insulting to the town council members.
Cannon said the comments criticized how the town council conducts public business.
He also claimed Madore would not let town employees discuss public business. He said Madore would not let the town’s tax assessor tell the council that a recently overturned budget was illegal.
Cannon also said Madore would not allow reprimands against Town Manager Larry Cote for actions Cote has taken.
Finally, Cannon alleged that the Town Council was attempting to circumvent recent votes at a special town meeting. Voters recently made severe cuts in the municipal budget, including cutting $10,000 out of Cote’s salary.
“It’s hateful what he is doing,” Cannon said. “It’s all part of the now famous 3-2 votes by the Town Council, and Madore is heading it.”