Four Town Council members could lose their jobs in Exeter as a result of a recall petition drive. What started as a dispute over who issues concealed carry permits for handguns...is now more a vote about good government, according to the combatants.
"This isn't a gun issue," said Town Councilman William Monahan, one of the recall targets. "How does it not relate to the gun issue, though?" asked ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis. "It doesn't," said recall supporter Lance Edwards.
Guns or not, the Board of Canvassers is trying to certify over two thousand signatures.
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "Even if all the signatures are verified this week, it will take at least 20 days and perhaps up to two months before the actual recall election is held."
While both sides are trying to steer away from the gun issue, it is where the recall began. Since Exeter has no police department, many residents believe the Council should allow the Town Sergeant or Town Clerk to issue gun permits. Critics say the council shirked it's responsibilities by going to the General Assembly.
"There isn't a town in this state that should have the authority to exempt their citizens from following the law. And that's exactly what they were doing and that is why we are having this recall," said recall supporter Lance Edwards.
But most Council members say the Town Clerk, and the Town Sergeant have no ability to do background checks. "This is a concealed weapons permitting issue. At no time have I ever said I was against guns. I don't care how many guns you own," said William Monahan of the Exeter Town Council.
For now, if people in Exeter want a gun permit, they have to apply to the Attorney General. Some hope the recall will bring that authority back under Town control.
Now in order to proceed with a recall election, they must show that the signatures of 496 people are valid. That number represents 10 percent of the population that voted in Exeter, in last November's election. So far only Council President Arlene Hicks has been certified for a recall election, and signature verification on the other three targeted Council members continues.