April 26, 2013

Old Orchard councilors now all facing recall

The three remaining councilors are notified that petitioners collected enough signatures.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – The entire Town Council is now facing recall as the fallout from months of political discord in town continues.

Town Clerk Kim McLaughlin on Friday notified Councilors Michael Coleman, Robin Dayton and Robert Quinn that recall petitions taken out against them had enough signatures to force a townwide vote on whether each councilor will stay in office.

Earlier this week, Chairwoman Sharri MacDonald, Vice Chairwoman Laura Bolduc and Councilors Dana Furtado and Linda Mailhot were notified petitions taken out against them also had enough signatures to move the recall effort forward.

Battling efforts to remove councilors from office began in March after the council majority -- MacDonald, Bolduc, Furtado and Mailhot -- voted to terminate the contract of Town Manager Mark Pearson. That move came after a series of contentious council meetings that drew hundreds of residents to Town Hall, some holding signs or arguing with others in the crowd.

Coleman, Dayton and Quinn opposed Pearson's removal.

Pearson, who had been town manager for a little more than a year, is suing the town to get his job back. The Town Council will meet May 7 to make decisions related to the recall election, which McLaughlin said must be held within 45 days, per the town charter. The council also will set dates for when nomination papers and absentee ballots will be available.

Voters will have to decide which councilors they want to recall and who should fill the remainder of their terms.

Coleman said Friday he is sad the recall effort has come to this point, but he welcomes a conversation in the community about the allegations made by the Taxpayers for Truth group, which circulated the petition against him.

"I have absolute faith in the people of Old Orchard Beach and I'm sure I will be remaining in office," Coleman said.

Dayton and Quinn did not return calls for comment Friday.

The committees circulating recall petitions were required to collect at least 815 signatures for each councilor. McLaughlin said the number of valid signatures on each petition verified Friday is as follows: Coleman, 923; Dayton, 928; and Quinn, 910.

After the seven recall petitions were returned to Town Hall, McLaughlin had to bring in an extra worker and close the office to verify the nearly 7,000 signatures submitted. McLaughlin and her regular staff of two also worked nights and weekends to meet the deadline to finish the process. While the town clerk's office was closed, other town employees pitched in to help customers, McLaughlin said. She said their efforts were "extraordinary."

The only other recall attempt in Old Orchard Beach came in 1990. The attempt to recall Councilors Norma Baker and F. William Schlatterer failed.

 

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

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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