OLD ORCHARD BEACH – A group of Old Orchard Beach residents hoping to oust the Town Council majority from office have submitted enough signatures to force a recall vote, likely on June 11, according to Town Clerk Kim McLaughlin.
McLaughlin certified the signatures turned in by the Recall 4 committee earlier this week. Under the town charter, the group had to collect the signatures of at least 815 registered voters in order for a recall election to be held.
McLaughlin said the total number of certified signatures collected for all four members of the council majority – Council Chairwoman Sharri MacDonald and councilors Laura Bolduc, Dana Furtado and Linda Mailhot – exceeded the number required by the charter.
She is also now working on certifying a second set of petitions, which seeks to remove councilors Michael Coleman, Robin Dayton and Bob Quinn from the town’s governing board. McLaughlin has until 4 p.m. on Friday, April 26, to meet the charter deadline.
McLaughlin will ask the council to set the recall election for June 11, when residents will also vote on the Regional School Unit 23 budget. The school district covers the communities of Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Dayton.
In all, according to McLaughlin, the Recall 4 committee turned in 916 certified signatures for Bolduc, 921 for Furtado, 914 for MacDonald and 920 for Mailhot.
The committee formed after the council majority terminated the contract of Town Manager Mark Pearson for no cause on March 5. Pearson has since sued the town for breach of contract and defamation, among other counts.
“As someone who has represented Old Orchard Beach for the past six years, I am saddened by the recall effort,” MacDonald said on Tuesday. “It is a humbling and embarrassing experience to have the citizens of my community take this action. The interesting part of governing is that as a town councilor, we have more information than most about the operations of our community.”
MacDonald also reiterated that she firmly believes terminating Pearson’s contract was the right thing for the town.
“If I did not believe in the vote that I took, would I really subject myself to the ridicule and innuendo of my friends and neighbors?” she said. “I have never taken a vote that I did not 100 percent believe was in the best interest of the taxpayers of Old Orchard Beach.”
MacDonald said the issues now surfacing in Old Orchard Beach rise above the canceling of the town manager’s contract and added the problem with politics at all levels is that “instead of working through the issues, taking a vote and then moving on, we have lowered ourselves to running smear campaigns on people’s characters.”
However, she also said, “I have high hopes that the discussion over the next few weeks surrounding the issues will (actually end up putting) the citizens of Old Orchard Beach at ease.”
McLaughlin said once it’s determined which councilors are up for recall, nomination papers would become available for those interested in filling the unexpired terms of those specific councilors.
If both sets of petitions are certified, the entire council could be replaced at the recall election.
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