A York County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that Ogunquit can move forward with a controversial recall election involving three members of the Board of Selectmen.

Madeline Mooney, listening to town attorney Philip Saucier at a meeting in January, is one of the Ogunquit Select Board members targeted by a recall petition. Press Herald photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Unless the decision is appealed, the recall election will be held May 9. The civil action, filed by four plaintiffs, Mary Buck, Barbara Ferraro, Patricia Hussey and Peter Kahn, asked the court to stop the election by declaring some recall petition signatures invalid.

The lawsuit, filed by the plaintiff’s attorney, Stephen Langsdorf, argued that there were problems with the recall petitions and the way the process was handled by town officials.

“We are very disappointed by the decision and are reviewing it now to determine whether there will be an appeal,” Langsdorf said in an email Wednesday evening.

In his 21-page ruling, Superior Court Justice John O’Neil Jr. states that “the Court discerns no reversible error on the part of the Town Clerk in certifying the recall petitions, and plaintiffs have not sustained their burden of proof” to have the petitions and signatures declared invalid.

The recall election targets Selectmen Chairman Charles Waite III, Madeline Mooney and Robert Winn Jr. The contentious recall effort was launched after the firing last fall of Ogunquit Fire Chief Mark O’Brien.

Waite, Mooney and Winn voted to fire O’Brien while selectmen John Daly and Richard Dolliver voted not to. The selectmen targeted in the recall effort supported Town Manager Patricia Finnegan’s decision to dismiss the fire chief.

In his ruling, O’Neil pointed out that the three recall petitions each contained far more than the 215 valid signatures required by the charter.

Town Clerk Chris Murphy determined the recall petitions contained 257 valid signatures to recall Mooney, 259 to recall Waite, and 253 to recall Winn.

The petitions were circulated by a group calling itself Take Back Ogunquit.

“Judge rules there will be a recall election on May 9. The voters of Ogunquit have won the right to vote,” Take Back Ogunquit announced in a Wednesday post on the group’s Facebook page. “We won! Judge O’Neil ruled against the plaintiffs on all 60 points of their frivolous lawsuit. Now it is up to you, the voters, to say yes to recalling Mooney, Winn and Waite.”

Take Back Ogunquit urged voters to support the recall effort by “retiring the three of them and electing responsible, objective and independent thinkers to the Select Board.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

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