Friday, February 28, 2014
You Cannot Recall a Local Elected Official
Lehigh County's Home Rule Charter contains no recall provisions. Of course, that small technicality has never been an obstacle to numerous citizens demanding the ouster of every County Executive I remember. They were loudest when Jane Ervin's 70% tax hike was adopted.
Northampton County, unlike Lehigh, does have recall provisions in its Home Rule Charter. Thirty per cent of the voters registered in the most recent election must sign a petition that would place the matter on the ballot. People would have to be pretty angry for that to happen.But if they were that mad, and got all the signatures needed, it would fail. It is unconstitutional.
This is explained in The Pennsylvania Legislator's Municipal Handbook. The exclusive methods for removing elected officials, including locally elected officials are Art. II, Sec. 7 (conviction of infamous crime); Art. VI, Sec. 7 (conviction of infamous crime, misbehavior in office or reasonable cause); and Art. VI, Sec. 6 (misbehavior in office). In the case of criminal convictions for infamous crimes, the courts make the call. In all other cases, it's up to the legislature to start impeachment proceedings, or the Governor, with the concurrence of 2/3 of the Senate.