June 18, 2013

Town government makes a fresh start in Old Orchard Beach

Months of tension dissipate as six recalled councilors leave office and their replacements are sworn in.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – The tension that gripped the Town Council for months had all but dissipated Monday night as the board met one final time to certify the results of the election that removed six of the seven members from office.

click image to enlarge

Newly elected Old Orchard Beach town council members were sworn in Monday, June 17, 2013. In this photo, OOB resident Elizabeth Mills greets newly elected council member Kenneth Blow following the meeting.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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Newly elected Old Orchard Beach town council members were sworn in Monday, June 17, 2013, and Councilor Bob Quinn accepted the role of assistant chairman on the new council. Quinn was the only councilor who kept his seat during last week's recall vote.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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It was another historic moment for the town, six days after residents voted for the first time to recall the majority of the Town Council. The vote on June 11 followed months of political tension touched off by a vote to fire the town manager.

Sharri MacDonald, Laura Bolduc, Linda Mailhot, Dana Furtado, Michael Coleman and Robin Dayton were removed from office. Coleman, who was recalled by a margin of 11 votes, has requested a recount of his race.

The recount will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday at Old Orchard Beach High School. If the result is reversed, Coleman will resume his position on the council and Kenneth Blow, who was elected to replace him, will step down.

Before a standing-room-only group of well over 100 residents, the six recalled councilors and Bob Quinn – the lone survivor of the recall election – certified the election results, then left the dais to a resounding ovation.

Within minutes, the new councilors were sworn into office and greeted by thunderous applause from the audience.

Sworn in were Blow, Shawn O'Neill, Roxanne Frenette, Malorie Pastor, Jay Kelley and Joseph Thornton. O'Neill and Frenette served previously as town councilors.

"We are going to have a period of transition," said O'Neill, who was elected to replace MacDonald. "We're here to serve you, to work together and bring change to our town."

O'Neill, who was a councilor for 14 years, including three years as chairman, was chosen unanimously as chairman. Quinn was chosen to serve as vice chairman, also with unanimous support.

O'Neill said the new Town Council will bring professionalism and integrity back to the town "as it so deserves."

Quinn, who is serving his second term, said the voters indicated last week that they want council deliberations to be conducted with honesty, integrity and dignity. Speaking directly to residents, Quinn said they made a difference for the town.

"I think the difference we made – not just in Old Orchard Beach but in surrounding communities – is showing that democracy is alive and well in our town," he said.

After the meeting, Quinn said he is optimist that the new councilors will work well together.

"The polarizing has got to end. We're on the right track," he said. "I think things will be better than they have been."

The Town Council will hold its first regular meeting Tuesday night, and on Wednesday it will begin a series of budget workshops. The council has 13 days to finish and adopt a municipal budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@pressherald.com

 

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