Lima recall effort fails
The effort to unseat School Committee member Jennifer Lima failed to turn in any signatures today. The petitions would have forced a recall election to replace Lima with losing Republican candidate Hannah Zangari.
Lima’s opponents, led by Republican Town Council member Mary Brimer, appeared before the town Board of Canvassers in August to demand the petitions. They used the formal process outlined in the town charter but cited nothing more than a difference of opinion with her. They had 60 days to gather the required signatures, but not a single signature was ever turned in, despite a well-funded campaign that included an all-town mailer, a website, canvassing, and tables set up at the post office and transfer station.
Though local Republicans like Brimer led the recall effort, it received significant support from the Gaspee Project, part of a national network of conservative dark money non-profits. They took advantage of the loophole in state election law that requires no financial disclosures for simply circulating a recall petition. The Gaspee Project and their local allies attempted to paint Lima’s support for diversity and equity initiatives into support for “critical race theory.” This attempt reflects a national trend of political operatives seeking to sow confusion and dissension in communities by claiming that efforts to reduce educational inequities are somehow harmful or unnecessary.
“Jennifer Lima was elected last fall with more votes than any other municipal candidate. She ran on a campaign to improve outcomes for all students and has done nothing but work to fulfill her campaign promises ever since. This recall petition was just a waste of time and money and is only meant to intimidate town officials into staying quiet,” said North Kingstown Democratic party chair Anne Geertman.
In addition to its failure to get the required number of signatures, the recall effort produced an outpouring of support for Lima, whose supporters have significantly outnumbered opponents at the last several school committee meetings. All the elected Democrats in town, both state and local, signed a letter of support for her. More concretely, Lima enjoyed an avalanche of small donations to help her fight back and has raised over $6,100 since August, from 92 individual donors, almost four times as much as the $1600 dollars she raised from 23 donors for her race in November 2020.
See a statement from Jennifer Lima.