Make the informed choice not to vote in this harmful political stunt.

Why no vote rather than voting “no”? The recall provision of our Home Rule Charter is flawed. For the recall to count, a certain number of people have to vote, but both sides count toward that total. For example, if the necessary total is 808, it would only take 405 people voting to recall if another 403 vote not to. Those who want the recall should have to come up with the whole 808. Not voting also sends the message that this election abuses the recall power.

Robert Coulter

Rob Coulter is president of the Tiverton Town Council. Rob and his wife, Danielle, have a four-year-old son. Rob is an attorney and military veteran with degrees in engineering, business, public policy, and law. He has been actively involved in community efforts to improve Tiverton and its government for twelve years, having been elected four times and co-founded a local charity. As president this term, his focus is on productive council meetings, allowing public comment on almost every agenda item, and administrative and operational efficiency. He is currently sponsoring projects to develop a long-term financial plan to meet capital needs and unfunded liabilities while controlling taxes, attend to Tiverton’s long history of litigation and struggles around planning/zoning/building issues, and continue increasing transparency by unsealing executive session minutes and having fewer executive sessions.
(401) 525-0469

Justin Katz

Justin Katz is vice president of the Tiverton Town Council. He is the research director for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity and managing editor of and is raising four children ranging from five to 17 with his wife, Kim. Justin has been active in local politics for about fifteen years. The highlight of his term so far has been resolving a complicated firefighter contract by emphasizing data and cooperation, and he looks forward to similar success with the two remaining contracts. He also looks forward to finally addressing challenges that have long hung over the town, including building broad agreement on a long-term financial plan and providing residents with tools to better understand what the council is working on and keep track of issues of concern to them.
(401) 835-7156

10 Reasons to Reject the Recall


The Recall Is a Terrible New Level of Politics

The recall election is already a new political low and will discourage participation in town government unless it is a dud that wasn’t worth the effort.  It will also be a new political weapon that could become a regular occurrence.


The Recall Has No Real Justification

Recalls should be reserved for major, proven misdeeds — like actual crimes — but this recall is based on manufactured scandals and lies.


The Recall Is Just a Continuation of Failed Complaints

The recall is part of a pattern of attempts to disrupt the council. Complaints filed with the Ethics Commission, the Attorney General’s office, and the municipal court have all been dismissed, and the recall is an attempt to see if enough voters can be whipped up with false accusations. 


We're Doing Good Work

This Town Council has been the most productive, open, and professional that Tiverton has seen in years. We’re accomplishing a lot, and we do good work.  At the very least, wait to see how we do with a full term in office.


Our Terms Are Only Two Years, and Only One Remains

Town Council members are only in office for two years in Tiverton, and by the time of the recall election, there will only be one left.  In fact, candidate declarations for the next election will kick of campaigns only about six months later.  It shouldn’t become the new normal that we have to vote every year if some residents aren’t happy with the outcome.


We're in the Middle of Important Projects

We’re negotiating contracts, developing ordinances, working on a long-term financial plan to help get the town’s decision-making on track, and more, and voters should let the council finish that ongoing work and judge us on the results at next year’s election.


The Recall Is Just a Power Grab

If this is really about the decisions of the council majority, why was the petition only filed against two out of those four members? Because it is entirely a political power grab, intended only to flip the majority.  In fact, the council member most likely to take over if the recall succeeds is the prior president, and she helped collect signatures to force the election.


Tiverton's Recall Process Is Broken

It took the petitioner four months to collect enough signatures, after three months of preparation, and he just barely made it.  For any other election, candidates and petitioners have a limited time to collect signatures, but with this endurance test, a handful of signature collectors can take however long they need to undo an election.


The Recall Is an Expense Taxpayers Shouldn't Have to Pay

Although the cost of the recall to the town is not certain, yet, it will be thousands of dollars of unnecessary spending of tax-dollars. The good news is that William McLaughlin has promised over and over to reimburse the town if it fails.


There Might Be More to the Petitioner's Motivation

Something isn’t right about the fact that the person who filed the recall petition, William McLaughlin, is seeking a $4 million settlement from taxpayers for a lawsuit against the town and is working so hard to change the leadership of the Town Council — even going so far as to say whom he wants as the replacement president and vice president.

Take a closer look at

The Recall Petition.

The charter requires anybody who pulls a recall petition to write down the reason, but he can pretty much write anything, and that’s what William McLaughlin did.

For the recent recall of Fall River’s mayor, 10 people had to appear together to start the petition, and they had only 20 days to collect signatures from 5% of all registered voters in the city.  In Fall River, that meant a little more than 2,500 signatures.  The petitioners were able to collect so many signatures so quickly because the reason for their recall was that the mayor was facing a criminal indictment from the federal government.

In Tiverton, it took the petitioner 116 days to collect enough signatures for the recall, and even that was well below the 5% needed in Fall River.  The reason the process took so much longer in Tiverton is that the recall is a political stunt.  In fact, the petitioner, William McLaughlin, first picked up sheets for the petition on January 15, when the new council had been in office for less than two months.

McLaughlin waited until April 4 before officially filing the petition because he was waiting for some excuse.  This is what he came up with, exactly as it appears on the petition to recall Justin:

We the undersigned registered voters in the Town of Tiverton RI do hereby call for the removal of Justin D. Katz from the Town Council by recall vote pursuant to Article XII Section 1209 of the Home Rule Charter of the Town of Tiverton. Councilor Katz has knowingly and willfully failed to follow the will of the people of Tiverton in making decisions, has lied to and mislead the voters on issues before the Council and is violating the first amendment amendment right of every citizen in Tiverton by preventing them from free speech to redress grievances with the Town Government.

McLaughlin posted this old picture of himself on the popular Tiverton Happenings page and used it as his Facebook profile picture.


The reasons given on the petition are vague and would set a dangerous precedent if voters decide they are enough to justify a recall.   
  • If it is a knowing and willful failure to follow the “will of the people” when a council member votes contrary to a few dozen people who show up at Town Hall on a given night, decisions will be made based on who is loudest on an issue (which will usually be special interests) rather than what is best for the town.
  • If it is enough just to assert that a council member has “lied and misled” voters, watch for every difference of opinion to be called a “lie.”
McLaughlin pointed to three specific issues when he filed the recall, and they are all misguided.  He said…

We Quickly Hired a Short-Term Lawyer When the Solicitor Quit

As soon as we were elected, the Town Solicitor submitted a letter of resignation and asked that we find a replacement quickly.  We did just that, hiring a trustworthy attorney from a large firm who has done an excellent job.  Claims that Justin had an inappropriate professional relationship with the candidate were not true, and several frivolous complaints filed with the state were all dismissed.

We Appointed One out of Seven Library Trustees Who Had a Different Point of View

After a seat on the library Board of Trustees sat empty for a year, a resident promising to bring a different point of view applied.  By the time of the appointment, the council had three applications, including one request to be reappointed.  To bring diversity of opinion, we chose to give a voice to the many residents who felt they were not previously represented.  The appointee began his position in March and has worked to help the library to succeed.

We Changed the Rules for Public Speaking at Council Meetings

The petition claims our change prevented free speech, but it did exactly the opposite.  We opened up the meeting for anybody to speak on any issue while we’re talking about it or to put other topics on the agenda.  The one small adjustment in the other direction was to stop having an open forum if we had an extended, closed-door session after the meeting, but we promised to reduce how often that happened… and we have.

They're going after us because

We Are Doing Things Differently.

Ever since we took office, we’ve been going about things differently.  We’re resolving problems that have lingered for longer than they should have.  We’re giving residents a full hearing, even when it makes for uncomfortable discussions.  We’re doing more of our business out in the open, where you can keep an eye on your local government.  We’re taking a different approach with town employees that is more firm when rules are broken and more cooperative when there are problems to be solved.


Maybe it angers more people when you make decisions, but that's what elected officials are supposed to do.

One of the biggest mysteries when we took office was why decisions just weren’t being made.  That is why, within our first two months, we authorized the sale of industrial park land to Bill’s Sales, repealed a poorly done solar ordinance from the prior council, and gave a directive to move forward with a new playground for Town Farm.  We took action on the resignation of the town solicitor.  We amended ordinances to clarify tax credits.  Similarly, we put the brakes on extension of the town planner’s contract to make sure the arrangement was working for the town, and it proved to have been a good thing that the contract didn’t move forward on autopilot.  On bigger issues, we began the process of unraveling problems with the Bay Street area, and now we’re also finally making some decisions about what to do when the landfill closes.

A Professional Relationship with Employees

Management and labor are on different sides of the table, but honest dealing and a sense of boundaries solve disagreements.

When we came into office, the town’s fire chief was on involuntary leave, and we were told that the firefighters’ contract would probably have to go to an expensive arbitration.  By standing on principle while being reasonable, we managed to part ways with the chief without whitewashing the problems or giving a golden parachute.  Then, by listening to our employees’ challenges and being honest about our perspective, we were able to agree on a creative solution for the firefighters’ contract that will keep things running smoothly while ensuring closer cooperation.  We also maintained police officers’ contribution to their retirement benefits while giving them incentive to achieve certification for their department.

Giving Residents a Hearing

Sometimes the people of Tiverton are going to ask uncomfortable questions, but it's our job to hear them out.

Within our first few meetings, a resident who had proposed to make Tiverton a sanctuary town for illegal immigrants months earlier requested a final hearing.  It’s a touchy issue, and he didn’t get his way, but he deserved an answer, which the prior council had denied him.  That has been our approach to everything.  We’ve had an open-microphone policy for residents to comment on any topic on the agenda.  We’ve opened up the process to request to be on the agenda, and we’ve stopped trying to hide sticky topics behind closed doors in executive sessions.  This has all been done while barely limiting the open forum, which is hardly ever used now that the people of Tiverton can participate so much more thoroughly in our meetings.

Transparency and Order

Getting policies and contracts right while ensuring everybody can see what's going on makes everything run more smoothly.

Among our first actions — for which we were repeatedly attacked at the time — was to delay the tax assessor’s new contract for just a couple of weeks to clean up the language, and that contract is now the model for all department heads. We’ve also reordered agendas and are scheduling issues more carefully (and holding more meetings) to keep them at a manageable length.  The town solicitor has also been more transparent with both his decisions and his invoices.  We are also working to release more information to the public, such as the minutes from back-room executive sessions once there is no longer any reason to keep them out of public view.

  • With Gratitude and Determination, We’ll Continue to Advocate for You

    Robert Coulter and Justin Katz The result of the recall election says more about our opposition and the times we’re living in than about us or our supporters. A small group of activists were willing to lie relentlessly in order to get enough people who opposed us to sign the recall petition and then vote,...
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  • Disarm the Recall Weapon Against Hard-Working Council

    Robert Coulter, President, Tiverton Town Council Having been elected four times in Tiverton over the last decade, I’m now in the odd position of writing as a target in an odd recall process where just 405 voters can vote me out despite over 2,000 voters voting me in just last year. In all this, Mr....
    Read More
  • More Drama in Tiverton

    Joel Bishop, Tiverton Tiverton is a beautiful town with wonderful residents. People here get to know their neighbors and lend a hand when help is needed. I’ve only lived here for 5 years, but have seen people stop to help stranded motorists more than once. I have also come to realize that Tiverton has a...
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  • Shameful Fictions from School Committee Member

    Nancy Driggs, Town Council Wow! Deb Pallasch.  Shame on you for claiming your litany of unsupported assumptions, opinions, and erroneous facts serve as a “path to recall.” You claim by clairvoyance to know how TTA members are feeling, and the motivations of all the signers of the recall petition. You assert that the actions of...
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  • The Value of This Council Is in the Tax Numbers

    Robert Gaw, Tiverton I would like to put personality differences aside and discuss the facts of the past 16 years in Tiverton. It was a dream of mine as a child to live in this beautiful town, even though I have seen some horrendous politics in the town during my 31 years here. I look...
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  • Recognize We’re All Working Toward the Same Goal

    Raymond Fougere, Tiverton There seems to be a lot of one-sided rhetoric in Tiverton these days, against the town council particularly those on the right (as you look from the gallery). Pure and simple they are TTA members.  They are interested in controlling taxes in Tiverton as their first mission.  They are very interested in...
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  • Recall a Total Sham, Should Be Ignored

    Laura Rom, Tiverton In the 2017 special election for Tiverton Charter Review Commission (CRC) there were 24 candidates running for 9 available seats. 9 of those candidates were endorsed by the TTA, and subsequently, all 9 were duly elected by the voters of Tiverton. The sitting town council dismissed the 12 months of intensive work...
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  • Zoning Appointment Another Phony Scandal

    Robert Coulter, Tiverton Town Council President When it comes to board appointments in Tiverton, longstanding Town Council policy is clear.  Whenever there are more applicants than open seats, two things apply.  First, the applicants must be interviewed by the council.  Second, the council does not vote until the meeting after all interviews are done.  This...
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  • Recall Claims Divorced from Reality

    Nancy Driggs, Tiverton Town Council McLaughlin’s allegation that this town council is not representing the will of the voters is a tall tale divorced from reality. There were 18 candidates who ran for the Town Council in November 2018 and the “will of the people” elected as the majority Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA)-endorsed candidates: Donna...
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  • It’s the Money

    Richard Rom, Tiverton Recall elections are for recalling sham artists, people who somehow hoodwinked voters into thinking they were great citizens and would steer their town into great prosperity. However, the Tiverton recall election is exactly the opposite. Four million dollars is driving the Tiverton recall election. A gentleman named Bill McLaughlin (who started the...
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  • Ten Reasons to Stay Away from the Recall

    Mark Constance, Tiverton Here are ten good reasons to make the choice to not vote in William McLaughlin’s sham recall election: 1. The recall election is a terrible new political low and will discourage participation. If it succeeds it will also be a new political weapon that could become a regular occurrence. Don’t encourage that....
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  • Strange Bedfellows Object to Telling the Truth

    Justin Katz, Tiverton Town Council Vice President You’ve heard the saying, “politics makes strange bedfellows”? That sure is proving true in Tiverton. During the 2000s, James McInnis tried again and again to sell his land between Souza Rd. and Rt. 24 for a variety of developments. Again and again, the town government did not let...
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  • No Hijacking Involved for TRTC

    Laura Rom, Tiverton Republican Town Committee This letter is to correct misinformation regarding hijacking and destruction of the Tiverton Republican Town Committee (TRTC), mostly stated by William McLaughlin and endorsed by a vocal group that is on a quest to recall two TRTC endorsed and duly elected members of the Town Council. In May of...
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  • Strange Bedfellows? Perhaps Not.

    Terence Garvey, Tiverton Just when you think you could not be more disgusted with politics, a total farce like the Tiverton Town Council recall rears its ugly head. What I’ve had difficulty understanding is how seeming adversaries can collaborate in perpetrating a historic sham on the voters of Tiverton — until now. The following is...
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  • The Recall’s Only Purpose Is to Devalue Your Vote

    Donna Cook, Town Council Member. During the last Tiverton campaign season, I talked to many people in town. I discovered that some are either not registered to vote or, if they are, simply have dropped out of the process and don’t vote. The answer is always similar: “I don’t believe my vote counts” and “it...
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  • Cutting Through Lies About the Souza Rd. Proposal

    Justin Katz, Vice President, Tiverton Town Council It’s hard to believe that people would just lie.  And when people spread lies about you, it can be like a trap.  You can’t prove that a conversation never happened, and you definitely can’t prove that you’re not going to do something you haven’t done, yet. That’s the...
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  • Statement About the Pending Recall

    For years, Tiverton residents have been sensitive to the tone of town politics, and now one faction wants to bring that hostility to the next level by turning in signatures to force a recall election against Town Council President Robert Coulter and Vice President Justin Katz.  Recalls should not be used as election do-overs; they...
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