Saugus, Mass. Special Election

Saugus is a hotbed of political passions and it's never been hotter that it is this week behind the doors of City Hall.

To anyone from greater Boston, just the mention of Saugus conjures up images of The Kowloon Restaurant, Route 1 traffic and the cactus from the now shuttered Hilltop Steak House.

But beyond the kitchy stretch of highway that cuts through the town, likes a lesser known reality: Saugus is a hotbed of political passions and it's never been hotter that it is this week behind the doors of City Hall.

Jennifer D'eon is one of the candidates trying to unseat four of the five town selectmen in a controversial recall, spear headed by the Save Saugus Political Action Committee that collected more than 20,000 signatures to force the special election.

She said, "What was going on was a lot of fighting and lawsuits and it was just becoming too painful..."

Dennis Gould is President of the group "Save Our Board Of Selectmen:" "It went wrong when they terminated the former town manager Scott Crabtree and a bunch of his friends got together and said no - we want Scott as the town manager again."

Save our BOS says it noticed many signatures on the recall petition were identical and many others couldn't be read.

Paul Allan is one of the four Saugus Selectman facing recall. He says, "It was obvious, there were so many duplicates with the same writing that the PAC for us actually hired a handwriting expert who determined there were forgeries."

But 83-year-old lifelong Saugonian, Arthur Gustafson says there are no forgeries and that the reason the board wanted Crabtree out was because they had supported the previous Town Manager who went on to be the town administrator in Nahant...

Gustafson says, "He's been indicted in Essex Superior Court for Fraud and criminal actions in Saugus and criminal actions in Nahant."

The saga is long an long and complicated with more than enough bitterness on both sides.

Nicole Spinosa with Save our BOS says, "There's a lot of "he said-she said" going on around - it's been a real smear campaign."

And D'eon adds, "It's become really apparent that you and your neighbor could really see things differently."

Dennis Gould says, "It's been devastating on some of the wives and husbands of the selectmen and the kids, they've been dragged through the mud."

Most in Saugus agree they will be glad to have this election over.  

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