Friday, December 6, 2013
By Gillian Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The four town councilors who voted in March to oust the town manager are now facing recall.
Old Orchard Beach Town Councilors, from left, Michael Coleman, Robert Quinn, Linda Mailhot, Sharri MacDonald, Laura Bolduc, Dana Furtado, and Robin Dayton listen to a resident speak during the Old Orchard Beach Town Council Meeting on Feb. 19, 2013.
Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer
Town Clerk Kim McLaughlin said recall petitions taken out against Chairwoman Sharri MacDonald, Vice Chairwoman Laura Bolduc and councilors Dana Furtado and Linda Mailhot had enough valid signatures to force a townwide vote on whether each councilor will stay in office.
The recall petitions were circulated by a citizens' group called Recall 4, which sought to remove the councilors because of their vote to terminate the contract of Town Manager Mark Pearson. Pearson, who had been on the job for about a year, is now suing the town to get his job back.
The town's three other councilors -- Michael Coleman, Robin Dayton and Robert Quinn -- may also face recall. The town clerk's office has until the end of the day Friday to certify signatures on petitions taken out to recall the trio, each of whom opposed removing Pearson.
The Town Council will meet May 7 to make decisions related to the recall election, which must be held within 45 days of that meeting. The council also will have to set dates regarding nomination papers for candidates who will run to replace recalled councilors.
The only other recall attempt in Old Orchard Beach came in 1990. The attempt to recall Councilors Norma Baker and F. William Schlatterer failed.
MacDonald said facing a recall is both humbling and embarrassing. She said she stands behind her vote on Pearson's contract because she felt she was acting in the town's best interest.
The recall process has been distracting for the Town Council as it tries to craft a municipal budget, MacDonald said.
"The councilors are now in campaign mode instead of working on a budget for the taxpayers," she said. "Because of this mayhem, the business is not being done. We're doing our best to work together and through the issues as a council."
Furtado declined to comment on the recall process. Mailhot and Bolduc did not return calls seeking comment.
McLaughlin said the process to verify the nearly 7,000 signatures on seven petitions has required her to bring in an extra worker to help her and two other staff members. They have worked at night and for eight hours last Sunday, she said.
The town clerk's office has been closed because of the time it takes to verify the signatures, McLaughlin said. She has been returning phone calls to residents in the evening and made special arrangements to help people conduct business that could not wait.
McLaughlin said she does not yet have an estimate of overtime and extra costs related to the recall process.
The process requires each petition to have 815 signatures of registered voters to force a recall vote.
McLaughlin said the number of valid signatures on the petitions seeking the recall of the four councilors is as follows: MacDonald, 914; Mailhot, 920; Furtado, 921; and Bolduc, 916.
There are 7,268 registered voters in Old Orchard Beach.
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: