Activist Says Seekonk Election Tainted
A candidate's legitimacy is questioned at the Seekonk Board of Selectmen meeting.
David Saad of Seekonk Concerned Citizens said Town Clerk Jan Parker should have had the alleged problems with Board of Selectmen candidate Gary Sagar's nomination papers investigated. That she did not hand the matter over to an elections board, Saad said, has placed a dark cloud over the contest.
It was revealed in the Sun Chronicle this week that Parker believed 12 of the signatures on Sagar's nomination papers were written by the same person. After consulting with a state official, she determined it was not worth the town's money to pursue an investigation. Saad said during the Community Speaks portion of Wednesday night's Board of Selectmen meeting that she should not have reached that conclusion.
"I don't care who wins this election coming up, but what I do care about is that the process is not at all tainted so that we citizens don't feel like we were shortchanged," Saad said.
Parker told Attleboro-Seekonk Patch on Thursday that the 12 signatures were "obviously written by the same person." She contacted the Elections Division of Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and was told the division would not investigate. If she wanted to pursue the matter, she would need to hire a handwriting expert and get legal advise, she was told. Parker decided against doing this because Sagar had collected more than three times the number of signatures he needed even if the 12 in question were removed.
"It would have cost the town more money [to look into the matter further], and it didn't seem necessary," Parker said. "If he had needed the 12 signatures to get the nomination, I would not have certified his papers."
Parker said she notified Sagar in writing about her decision. She said it was unfortunate the issue was leaked to the media and became a public issue more than a month after she sent the note to Sagar and a week before Election Day.
Saad said in an interview on Thursday that he was not satisfied with Parker's reasoning for her decision. He cited a section of the General Laws of Massachusetts that states, "objections filed with the city or town clerk shall forthwith be transmitted by him to the board authorized to hear such objections as provided under this section." However, no objection was filed.
Sagar said durng Community Speaks on Wednesday that Saad was raising the issue in an effort to harm his reputation.
"This whole thing stinks and I would welcome anybody, any state agency to fully investigate, and I hope somebody does," Sagar said. "And I think, Mr. Saad, that was a low, low blow."
This led to a heated exchange between the two. Saad insisted he did not care who won the election, but that he didn't want "this to turn into Florida."
"In this town, you better not question anything," Saad said sarcastically. "God forbid."
Meanwhile on the dais, Selectman Dave Parker, who is running for re-election, declined to comment on the matter because Saad asked him not to speak since his wife is the clerk. Selectman Bob McLintock said it was an inappropriate conversation for the meeting. Selectman Francis Cavaco said the town should only pursue an investigation if a law enforcement agency wanted to do that. Selectman Bill Rice said he planned to look into the issue further on his own.
Both Sagar and Saad said the the clerk should not have been involved in the situation at all because her husband is a candidate. Parker told Attleboro-Seekonk Patch that she does not agree.
"I'm the one responsible for elections and Boston told me it was my decision," Parker said.
Election Day is Monday. The polls at Seekonk High School will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.