North

Recalled Rowley water board chair targets judge

Timothy Toomey, the former Rowley Board of Water Commissioners chairman voted out of office via a recall election Feb. 2, has asked state Representative Brad Hill to begin proceedings to impeach Judge Richard Welch.

Welch denied Toomey’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the recall process in January at In Essex County Superior Court in Newburyport.

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Toomey lost in the recall election to Mark Emery, 675 votes to 26. Approximately 1,200 signatures of registered voters were needed to trigger the recall, and organizers gathered approximately 1,300.

As he sought a preliminary injunction to stop the recall effort, Toomey argued that legal requirements – notably a properly written affidavit explaining the reason for the recall — were not included on petitions when the first 100 or so signatures were collected.

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Welch ruled that Toomey was not prejudiced by a “technical defect,” but Toomey is now claiming the recall was illegal because those involved didn’t start it using the procedures required by law, including the town bylaws, Toomey said.

“This is a perfect example of a mob ruling the process,” Toomey said. “The judge should have upheld the law.”

Toomey, who held the unpaid position since 2008, said he isn’t trying to reverse what’s been done. He said he’s taking this matter to the state Legislature to protect other elected and appointed officials.

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“I’ve seen what’s happened to me and I’m concerned at this point about the democratic process,” he said. “It could happen again if nobody steps forward.”

Welch could not be reached for comment. Town Administrator Deborah Eagan declined to comment.

The recall movement followed friction between Toomey and other town officials that resulted in complaints being filed with the attorney general’s office. Complaints filed against Toomey and in some cases fellow commissioner Stuart Dalzell Sr. — whose term expired and did not run for reelection Tuesday — focused on use of executive session and violations of the open meeting law.

“We were trying to conduct an investigation into the department,” Toomey said. “Several things were going on that were hidden from the commissioners, and it had a lot to do with money, and spending, and misuse of resources.”

Hill said he’s considering the request.

“Usually these are put forth when it is perceived that a judge has committed a criminal act or is acting in a way that is not in the best interest of the public,” Hill said. “I’m not sure if this has risen to that standard.”

David Rattigan can be reached at drattigan.globe@gmail.com.
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