Exeter Town Councilors Hold On To Their Seats

Dec 16, 2013

Four Exeter town councilors have easily survived a recall election spawned by critics of a plan to transfer control of concealed weapons permits from the town  to the state.  Unlike most towns, Exeter is so small it has no police department and councilors felt the town  clerk didn’t have the resources needed to do the job properly. The results of the election plus reaction from both sides.

Town Clerk's Office, in Exeter Rhode Island.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Turnout was 37 percent, unusually high for a special election, not to mention one with a snow storm on the way.  Eighteen-hundred Exeter voters decided by a margin of almost two-to-one to keep town councilors Arlene Hicks, Bob Moynahan, Bob Johnson and Cal Ellis. All four had angered gun enthusiasts by voting to transfer the issuance of concealed weapons permits from the town clerk to the attorney general’s office. 

The councilors were together when the results were announced 15 minutes after the polls closed Saturday night. Council president Arlene Hicks says they were relieved. The recall, she said , had become a distraction.

"Any decisions that we needed to make, any planning we needed to do, was always done with this hanging over our heads. You know ‘would we be in office after December 14th?" said Hicks.

Recall supporter Brian Bishop says he’s disappointed but hopes that candidates will come forward to challenge the councilors they were unable to recall.

"I’ve heard from people who I think would be effective candidates and could stand in Exeter and I’m hopeful we’ll field a good slate of candidates," said Bishop.

All four of  the councilors targeted by the recall have to stand for re-election next year.

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