ALFRED – The election to decide if Regional School Unit 21 director Tim Stentiford is to be recalled from his position will proceed March 29.

The town of Kennebunk has prevailed in a lawsuit brought by RSU 21 that challenged the municipality’s authority to conduct the recall election. York County Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas handed up his decision on Tuesday afternoon, March 8.

“…. the court concludes that the Town of Kennebunk, under its Charter and consistent with both the principles of home rule and the provisions of (Maine statutes) Titles 20-A and 30-A, has the authority under its Charter to hold recall elections for RSU 21 Board Directors,” Douglas wrote in his 13-page decision. “This conclusion is in no way intended to, nor does, reflect upon Mr. Stentiford’s capacity or qualifications to continue serving as an RSU 21 Board Director, his performance in that office, or the merits or demerits of the recall initiative.”

Stentiford is one of six Kennebunk directors on the RSU 21 board. His three-year term expires June 30. The two other towns that make up the district, Kennebunkport and Arundel, each send three representatives to the board.

Several Kennebunk residents, led by Norman Archer, initiated a recall process in late 2021 to remove Stentiford and board chair Art LeBlanc from office under the recall provisions of the municipal charter. The threshold of 665 valid signatures was met with the Stentiford petition and was certified by Town Clerk Merton Brown. The LeBlanc petition effort fell short.

RSU 21 challenged the town’s authority to conduct the election, filing a civil complaint on Jan 10. Douglas denied the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order after concluding the school district failed to demonstrate it suffered an irreparable injury. A final hearing was conducted March 2.


“This action challenges the Town’s legal authority to hold a recall election of an official who was duly elected by the voters of Kennebunk as their representative on the RSU 21 Board,” Douglas wrote of the complaint filed by RSU 21. “Plaintiff contends that the Charter does not authorize such a recall election; and, even if it does, that state law in Chapter 103-A of Title 20-A of the Maine Revised Statutes preempts the Charter. The court concludes that the Charter authorizes a recall of an RSU 21 Board Director and that provisions in Title 20-A relating to the establishment and operations of regional school units do not preempt that authority.”

Douglas pointed out that the Kennebunk charter states that “any elected official” may be recalled, and that the charter speaks to the election of quasi-municipal and district officials, including school board directors, and lays out the process.

“The court concludes, therefore, that based on its plain language, read in conjunction with other provisions therein and in light of applicable canons of construction, the Charter authorizes the voters of Kennebunk to recall an RSU 21 Board Director whom they have previously elected,” Douglas wrote.

“The select board does not consider this outcome a “win,” said board chair Blake Baldwin. “At best, the judge’s decision vindicates the select board’s decision to support the clear language of the town charter with respect to the recall effort. All seven members of the board took an oath to support the charter and we discharged that duty notwithstanding individual concerns about the underlying merits of the recall effort.

“This chapter in our town’s history will play out later this month when the legislative body meets in a special election. Regardless of the outcome, it is my prayerful expectation that this controversy will not rend the fabric of our community. We will vote, a decision will be made, and hopefully we will move on without lasting rancor.”

LeBlanc, the RSU 21 board chair, said in an email Wednesday that the board would take the decision by Justice Douglas under consideration at the next school board directors meeting. On Tuesday, March 8, LeBlanc read a letter at the select board meeting:


“Today we received the decision from Judge Douglas that the Kennebunk Town Charter recall provision does apply to RSU 21 School Board directors,” the letter states, in part. “Given that decision, our questions have been answered and it leaves our community with a recall process driven by our charter – a charter that requires sworn affidavits yet no method to validate or disprove their statements, and a petition process requiring an oath from signature gatherers, yet no method for contesting signatures gained under provably false pretense.”

“This was never about not having a recall provision for school board directors,” LeBlanc’s letter continued. “This was about a process that was used to unfairly target individuals serving our community and using provably false statements against members of our own community in doing so. As I have stated previously, the town charter and RSU 21 policy need to be developed to establish a defined and fair recall process. As the RSU 21 board chair, I am willing to work with the select board to achieve that goal.”

LeBlanc went on to outline Stentiford’s contributions to the district, and said he has “provided foresight, leadership, and commitment to doing the work in serving RSU 21’s students, employees, and the communities of Arundel, Kennebunk, and Kennebunkport.”

The March 29 ballot asks voters if they wish to recall Stentiford. If they do, they may choose to elect Gayle Spofford, whose name is on the ballot, to serve until the end of the term on June 30 or write in someone of their choice. Spofford has said she does not favor recall, but put her name forward because she does not want to see the seat remain vacant for the remaining three months of the term.

Absentee voting for the March 29 Special Town Meeting, which also includes two zoning referendum questions as well as the recall question, began Feb. 25.

In addition to the regular 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday hours, the town clerk’s office will be open for those wishing to register to vote, and for absentee voting, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19-20 and until 7:30 p.m. on March 24. Absentee voters must return their ballots to the town clerk by 8 p.m., March 29. An election drop box is located outside the Kennebunk Town Hall at the Green Street ramp entrance.

On Election Day, polls are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Edward C. Winston Town Hall Auditorium at 1 Summer St.

For a voter guide, visit

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