Kennebunk residents will vote Tuesday on whether to recall Tim Stentiford from the RSU 21 board of directors following months of tense debate about the reasons behind the effort to remove him from office and whether the town has the authority to hold the election.

A court ruling earlier this month paved the way for the March 29 vote on whether Stentiford will be able to serve out the remaining three months of his three-year term.

The recall process began last fall when a group of residents sought to recall RSU 21 school board Chair Art LeBlanc and Stentiford, blaming them for the loss of several teachers, increases in human resources spending and the absence of a school board curriculum committee. The recall proponents, led by former school board chair Norm Archer, failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a recall election against LeBlanc but did collect enough to move forward against Stentiford.

The affidavit seeking Stentiford’s recall says his “role in negotiating the most recent teachers contract and his personal contribution to the board’s escalated administrative spending has caused a loss of confidence.” The town clerk certified that 665 of 697 signatures on the recall petitions were valid.

Even before official paperwork was filed with the town clerk to start the recall process, members of the RSU 21 school board pushed back with a six-page letter in which they defended the work of LeBlanc and Stentiford and spoke of the challenges the district has faced as it has navigated the pandemic. The letter stated that a “recall based on the claim of a lack of support for teachers is unfounded.”

Critics of the recall said proponents were going after Stentiford for personal reasons, an allegation Archer has repeatedly denied.


Residents opposed to the recall who spoke during public meetings asked the town to find a way to stop it, defended Stentiford’s tenure as an elected official and questioned the effort’s true motives. Some alleged signatures were gathered improperly because not all signers were shown the affidavit before they signed.

As the town went through the process to verify signatures on the petition and set a date for the recall vote, RSU 21 filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the process.

In requesting an emergency injunction to stop Kennebunk from holding a town recall vote, the RSU 21 board argued that an individual town’s recall provisions could not be applied to a regional school board and that the affidavits used to secure petition signatures to recall Stentiford were provably false. The town denied those claims.

York County Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas rejected the request for an emergency injunction after determining that the school district failed to demonstrate irreparable injury, a prerequisite for injunctive relief. Earlier this month, Douglas sided with the town in the lawsuit, ruling that the town does have the authority to hold recall elections for RSU 21 board members.

“This conclusion is in no way intended to, nor does, reflect upon Mr. Stentiford’s capacity or qualifications to continue serving as as RSU 21 Board Director, his performance in that office, or the merits or demerits of the recall initiative,” Douglas wrote in his 13-page ruling.

Stentiford, whose term ends in June, has not commented publicly on the recall or responded to interview requests from reporters.

If voters recall Stentiford, he could be replaced by Gayle Spofford, whose name is on the ballot, or by a write-in candidate. Kennebunk residents also will vote Tuesday on two referendum questions related to zoning changes.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Edward C. Winston Town Hall Auditorium on Summer Street.

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