Mayor Martin Burns and Commissioner
Ron Terpko will not face a recall election next month.
That unexpected news was announced by
Commissioner Wayne Hooper near the end of Tuesday night's
board of commissioners' meeting and confirmed Wednesday by the
group circulating the recall petitions. Bill Blakeslee,
speaking on behalf of Concerned Citizens for a Better Thurmont
(CCBT), said that after Mr. Hooper spoke with the group, it
decided to halt the drive.
"We decided it would be in the
best interest of the town not to, do it," said Mr.
Blakeslee, who is considering seeking a board of
commissioners' seat in October.
The petition drive against Mr. Burns
was started late last year by Jacque Burrier. This spring,
about nine town residents joined the effort, and Mr. Terpko
was added as a recall target.
Chuck Collins previously said the
group sought to recall the officials because of their lack of
decorum in public settings, including board meetings. CCBT had
until Friday to submit petitions containing the signatures of
at least 20 percent of the town's voters. Had valid petitions
been submitted, Mr. Burns and Mr. Terpko would have had to win
re-election on Oct. 27 to serve the remaining two years of
Both men appeared relieved that a
recall campaign was called off.
"It blew me away," Mr. Burns
said of the announcement. "I was very surprised."
Said Mr. Terpko: "I'm just glad
that it's not going to go through because I think it would've
divided the town more."
Mr. Blakeslee declined to say whether
CCBT had enough signatures to recall one or both men, and he
said he didn't know if the petitions were destroyed. No vote
was taken about ending the recall drive, but he said the
decision was made after considerable discussion.
"The people involved are only
interested in the betterment of Thurmont and concern for
Thurmont," he said, "and that was the only factor in
anything we have done."
Mr. Hooper said he lobbied to stop the
recall effort because recent board meetings have been less
contentious and because the recall could cause confusion on
Election Day. Town voters already will be asked to fill the
commissioners' seats currently held by Eddie Hobbs and Kenneth
Oland and decide three referendum issues.
"I'd rather put the emphasis on
other things in the election," Mr. Hooper said.
At previous meetings, Mr. Burns has
said residents approached him about recalling Mr. Hooper. He
said he admonished them and advised against it, saying he
believed an official should only be recalled if he did
something illegal, immoral or unethical.
Mr. Hooper said CCBT was exercising a
right provided in the town charter. He declined to say whether
he thought the reasons cited for the recall were sufficient
for such an action.
Mr. Hooper's comments were
"influential" to CCBT members, Mr. Blakeslee said.
"The commissioners have a lot of respect in our
group," he said. "We respect their opinions, and
that was certainly part of the equation."
The circus surrounding California's
gubernatorial recall was a factor in the decision, Mr.
Blakeslee said, and the recent lack of acrimony among board
members also was considered.
Mr. Burns attributed that recent
goodwill among the commissioners to several factors. The board
hasn't been tested by contentious issues for months, he said,
and an attitude adjustment also has helped.
"I haven't changed, but I've
learned that sometimes I have to keep my mouth shut," he
said. "We're all trying to make Thurmont a better place,
and what an olive branch that group handed me tonight."
Those post-meeting comments echoed
statements Mr. Burns made near the end of the meeting. After
saying that the past year had been difficult and that the
recall had affected him greatly, he turned to Mr. Hooper.
"... I appreciate the fact that
you did what you did," the mayor said, "and
appreciate that fact that I'll get to serve out two more
years." He then turned back to the audience and said,
"If you want me out, vote me out two years from