Effort Underway to Allow Recall of Elected County Officials

Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty

HYANNIS – An ordinance has been submitted by several members of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates to allow the public to recall elected county officials.

The proposed amendment to the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter would allow for any elected official to be recalled with the submission of affidavits from 1,000 registered voters.

Recalls of countywide officials must include at least 25 submissions from each town in the county and no more than 25 percent from one single community.

Dennis delegate John Ohman, who is one of the sponsors of the ordinance, says it was crafted after an overwhelming response from county residents.

“People are very upset that they don’t have a say in recalling an elected official,” Ohman said. “They can’t believe that that process has not been put into the county charter. And we are responding to that saying, sure, you should be able to recall anybody.”

Ohman said the public should have the ability to recall any delegate, county commissioner or any other county elected official, including himself if it was warranted.

The ordinance is also sponsored by Susan Moran, of Falmouth; Edward McManus, of Harwich; Ronald Bergstrom, of Chatham; and Provincetown’s Brian O’Malley.

A preliminary response to the first draft of the ordinance has been submitted by General Counsel for Barnstable County Robert Troy.

“He has actually come with some thoughts about how it should be restructured if it’s going to go forward,” Ohman said.

The ordinance is expected to be on the agenda sometime next month during Assembly of Delegates meetings.

The effort to provide a procedure for a recall has come mostly from controversial statements and tweets by County Commissioner Ron Beaty.

Since his election last year to the county’s executive board, Beaty has earned admirers and enemies for his relentless pursuit of open meeting law violations, even against his own commission.

He picked a very public fight with fellow Republican and 5th Barnstable District State Representative Randy Hunt over a parking space.

Beaty took some public heat for a proposal to bait and kill great white sharks off the Cape’s shores.

Most recently, Beaty caused a firestorm for criticizing the #MeToo movement on social media which has been used to raise awareness about sexual assault and abuse.

In his own social media post, Beaty previously called the campaign, “a bunch of nonsense, in my humble opinion.”

That prompted several weeks of protest at county commissioner meetings by those offended by his remarks.

“There may be one particular county official who has generated more interest in a recall than others, but we wanted to make it general enough so that any county official should have the ability to be recalled,” Ohman said.

In a statement, Beaty said he believes the proposed county recall measure is politically motivated.

“Despite the fact the Assembly of Delegates is supposed to be non-partisan, it is in fact presently dominated by Democrats,” Beaty said. “All five sponsors of the proposed ordinance are liberal Democrats, and I am a conservative Republican.”

Beaty called the sponsors of the ordinance “jealous, outrageously liberal petty politicians who are afraid of their own shadows!”

Beaty predicts the measure will fail if it moves forward.

The entire statement on the recall ordinance crafted by Beaty can be read below:

Speaking as one individual County Commissioner, I believe that the proposed county recall measure is without question politically motivated.

A couple of observations are also noteworthy. 

Despite the fact the Assembly of Delegates is supposed to be non-partisan, it is in fact presently dominated by Democrats. All five sponsors of the proposed ordinance are liberal Democrats, and I am a conservative Republican. 

It is also noteworthy that the sections of the proposed measure which would have included the County legislature (Assembly of Delegates) in the proposed recall process have now been crossed out, only leaving county commissioners that can be politically targeted for harassment for essentially any reason, or no legitimate reason at all.

Moreover, it is also notable that the original county Charter in 1988 did contain a recall provision, but was it removed by the legislature at that time for some unexplained reason.

Additionally, five years ago, as a citizen activist I myself attempted to have the recall provision reinstated through both the Assembly of Delegates, and by having State Rep. Randy Hunt file relevant legislation, but the County Assembly wanted no part of it at that time (Ronald Bergstrom was Speaker). 

I find it ironic that now that I am an elected county commissioner, some of these same individuals all of a sudden want to be able to undo the will of the Cape Cod electorate at their whim because they do not like the politics presently involved regarding me personally. 

In the end, the sponsors of this proposed recall measure are jealous, outrageously liberal petty politicians who are afraid of their own shadows! 

If the measure moves forward, I predict that in the end, it and its sponsors, will fail miserably. 

I look forward to the coming political battles with enthusiastic anticipation. 

There is an old saying that politics is a blood sport…indeed it certainly can be. Yes, indeed.


Best regards, 


By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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