Why these Fairhaven residents are trying to recall Selectman Daniel Freitas

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by Standard Times , Daniel Schemer Correspondent

FAIRHAVEN — A massive recall petition is circulating around town against current Chair of the Board of Selectmen, Daniel Freitas.

According to the group who has organized the petition just under 1,500 signatures have already been collected, more than half than what is needed.

Why is Daniel Freitas being targeted by this recall effort?

According to the press release submitted by group calling itself Recall Dan Freitas, he “has created a circus of the Select Board by abandoning meetings in anger, skipping meetings to delay decisions, and gaslighting the public to place blame for his bad behavior on other people.”

Examples of this behavior the group gave in its press release are allegations that Freitas committed abusive treatment toward other Select Board members and town employees, manipulated the hiring process for the search for a new Town Administrator in order to favor an insider candidate, wasted $10,000 in taxpayer money for a recruitment screening process for the new TA position the group says he had no intention of accepting results from, committed open meeting violations by deliberating with at least one other Selectman outside of meetings, and regularly ignored and berated questions and responses from the public.

The group also references a criminal complaint of assault & battery filed in court by the Fairhaven Police over an alleged physical altercation from July 1 of last year in the town’s McDonald’s parking lot in Plaza Way between Freitas and his then 18-year-old daughter against a couple they knew.

Since then, Freitas has refused to comment on the pending case.
'A smear campaign'

Freitas responded to news of the recall petition through his Facebook page, calling it a “smear campaign” and stating it is “a small group of people in town who have spread numerous lies about me.”

In his response Freitas states he has “given a large portion of my adult life to helping the people in this town.”  He further accuses the group leading the recall effort of being “former town employees who have been fired from the town or left because their actions would have gotten them fired.”

He responds directly to accusations of abuse against town employees by stating “all you have to do is call the town hall and ask any employee if I treat them poorly.  Walk in and ask.”

How the petition works

The group launched its recall effort on April 13, maintaining a constant online presence, placing yard signs all over town, and tabling high-traffic areas, such as Livesay Park, Ocean State Job Lot, Stop N Shop, in front of The Post Office, and outside Town Hall.  They’ve also been offering to come to residents’ homes with the petition, or offering petitions online that can be printed out.

Under the town bylaws, a recall petition against an elected official requires the signatures of at least 20% of the town’s registered voters, or about 2,400 signatures. The group has 14 days to reach this goal and must submit all of them to the Town Clerk no later than Tuesday, April 27.

The group is planning its final big push for signatures this weekend.  Ann Richard, one of the chief coordinators of the recall effort, stated that, based on its rate of accumulation of signatures over the last week and a few days, the group is on target to reach its goal.

According to Special Acts A502-4, Chapter 516, of the Town Bylaws, once the petition and required number of signatures are collected by the Town Clerk and certified by the Registrar of Voters, it is then submitted to the Board of Selectmen.  In this case, Freitas would receive notice of the certified recall petition and has five days after delivery of the notice to resign.

If Freitas weren’t to resign, the Board of Selectmen can order a special town election.  Depending on available options, the special town election could range from a Yes or No question to recall, to voters choosing from a selection of candidates, in which case Freitas would have the option to appear on the ballot.

People who want to learn more about this recall effort can look up https://www.recalldanfreitas.com/ or check out the group’s Facebook Page.