KENNEBUNK – Voters here will decide Nov. 8 if they wish to form a Charter Commission to review the current document and elect six members in the event the first question passes.

The select board voted in favor of the measure June 21., with brief comment by some members.

“I agree,” said Sally Carpenter.

“Do it,” said Lisa Pratt.

“I agree,” said Kortney Nedeau.

In formal terms, the vote by the board “determines that the revision of the town charter should be considered and the question of the whether a charter commission shall be established for that purpose shall be placed before the voters of the town of Kennebunk at the general election.”


The decision comes following a divisive vote earlier this year that called for the recall of an elected RSU 21 board member, one of six who represent Kennebunk. The recall went down in overwhelming defeat but exposed a lack of process outlined in the charter.

The charter was last updated by a full charter commission in 2009, though there have been periodic tweaks to portions of the document since that time.

The recall  is not the only reason for revision, said outgoing select board chair Blake Baldwin in an email prior to new board members being seated on July 1.

Baldwin said a charter revision has been discussed informally for many years, centering on whether the town meeting/select board/town manager form of government remains relevant and appropriate for Kennebunk.

He said there were competing priorities, and the status quo persisted until the recall.

“The existing charter has many deficiencies,” said Baldwin. “For example, Article VII which deals with the recall process has been exposed as horribly flawed; a ticking time bomb that somehow was overlooked by the Charter Revision Commission in 2009. Anyone with an ounce of sense should have understood the need to validate affidavits, since they are by definition a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation containing true and correct facts. Our charter is completely silent on the process by which the facts alleged in an affidavit to support the issuance of recall petitions could be tested for veracity.”


Baldwin noted other omissions in the current charter, including ambiguous language when it comes to the select board authorizing all legal activity for the town, and other matters, like the status of town committees.

“The subject of town advisory committees is largely unaddressed by the charter,” said Baldwin. “The lack of process begs the questions of why and how these committees are created in the first place and are to be administered going forward. This shortcoming has been detrimental to a vital part of our town government as evidenced by the turmoil surrounding the mass resignation of the Committee on Aging.”

Carpenter said she was convinced by the recall process that it was time for a charter commission.

“We take an oath to uphold the charter when we take office on the select board,” said Carpenter in an email. “In the case of the recent recall, I felt that the charter did not elaborate reasons for a recall, and this made my select board decision-making difficult. I am hopeful that a diverse, well represented charter commission that addresses indications for a recall will provide much needed clarity, guidance and direction.”

The charter question will be subject to two public hearings prior to the Nov. 8 vote.

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