LIVERMORE FALLS – Some voters here took the first steps toward possibly ousting selectmen when they started circulating a petition Friday seeking a recall ordinance.

If enacted, the ordinance would give voters the power to recall elected officials.

A recall vote is like a reverse election, said Maine Municipal Association representative Mike Starn. “If you vote yes, that means you’re getting rid of them,” Starn said.

“A lot of communities have not adopted ordinances because they feel the election process is a viable way of ridding themselves of people they don’t want to be in elective office,” he said.

But if an ordinance is adopted, voters may well decide not to try for a recall at all, said petition organizer Joyce Drake. “With no ordinance, we have no accountability,” she said. What she most wants is for the current board to be accountable to their voters – to listen to what folks want, and to be aboveboard in the way they handle town business, she said.

Angry over what they saw as the board’s refusal to give them a say in how their money is spent, voters at the June 14 town meeting denied funding to several town departments.

The fact that selectmen opted to shut down town services for 10 days in response is another point against them, Drake said.

MMA sent the board a list of ways they could keep the town open, Drake said. “They had all these avenues but they chose not to use them,” she said. “They painted the picture they had no choice. If they were truly there to do what’s in the best interest of the town, it would have been to keep it open.”

The day selectmen called an emergency meeting to discuss shutting the transfer station down a few days a week because of a budget deficit, Drake started collecting signatures. By the end of Friday, she had more than 60.

As of Monday afternoon, nearly 80 people had signed in favor of a recall ordinance. Without it, former Town Manager Maxine Bailey said Monday, townspeople have no recourse against selectmen until it’s time to vote them in, or out of, office.

“Everywhere I go – I just go to the grocery store, and people ask me ‘why don’t you be town manager again,'” Bailey said. “People are upset. Different ones ask me, ‘well how can you get an ordinance out there?'”

“I have not had anyone turn me down,” said Drake, who wrote up the ordinance.

“It’s time to know that, if you don’t listen to the people, you’re going to have to pay the fiddler,” Drake said.

Petitioners are required to get signatures from 97 people – 10 percent of the number who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election, Drake said.

Once those signatures are collected, each signature must be verified by the town clerk.

Which presents a problem, Maxine Bailey says. Livermore Falls’ town clerk is Kristal Flagg, wife of Selectman Russell Flagg.

“I love Kristal dearly,” Bailey said. But she said she thinks it’s wrong for Flagg to be verifying the signatures of those who may want to oust her husband. “I call it a conflict of interest and a whole lot of things,” Bailey said.

Town Manager Martin Puckett said Monday was the first time he’d heard about the petition.

“I’m disappointed about hearing it. No one has come to talk to me about it, or been talking publicly about it,” he said.

Selectmen’s Chairwoman Julie Deschesne declined comment.

Starn, of the MMA, said if a valid petition is brought before the board, selectmen would be required to schedule a vote for a recall ordinance.

“If the petition is valid, properly drawn up and signed, selectmen are compelled to call an election,” Starn said.


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