I have been asked a few times now, “Why are you doing this?”; “Why are you getting involved”; and my favorite by only a couple people, “Why are you defending him?”

The illegal firing of Mechanic Falls Town Manager Zakk Maher definitely triggered this recall process, but to many people in the town, Maher’s firing was simply the last straw. For me, this recall process isn’t a defense of Maher, it is a defense of the rule of law and the legal structure of our town. If residents allow their elected officials to break the law when it works in residents’ favor, you can bet they will do it when it works against them, too. So, whether folks like Maher or not, a recall is the right thing to do.

Do I like Maher? Yes, I do. Do I trust him? Absolutely. And many other people in this town do, as well. After listening to the people of Mechanic Falls scream for a recall for the past couple months and observing the behavior of certain council members toward the people in meetings — the snickering at their questions, the eye rolling, the brushing them off as insignificant — it was clear to me that the council (and town attorney) do not respect town residents or their opinions. The councilors have forgotten who they work for.

This recall petition process isn’t going to pull present councilors from their seats. It isn’t going to fire them on its own. It is only a start — the first step in a series of steps. What it will do is force recall questions onto a ballot for the people to answer. “Do you wish to recall Councilor XXXXX? Yes or No.” If we get this question on a ballot, the voice of the people will be heard and the town’s elected officials will not be able to brush them off.

Those in power will try to stop us every chance they get. They will claim we did this wrong or that wrong in an effort to nullify the recall. They are going to hold our feet to the fire on even the slightest details and we will have to do the same to them. We will have to dance the dance at times. In the end, the light will have been shed on them and they will know the people are watching them, as are people around the state — and I have heard from many people, from as far away as Rockland, Bethel, Rumford, Augusta and towns in between.

While the recall committee and its members have to remain calm, collected and professional, the people need to remain loud and proud. We can’t let this story fade away — that is what certain councilors are hoping for because that is how it always worked in the past. Well, the past is the past and the town’s future will be brighter with the recall’s success.

In the meantime, the people of Mechanic Falls need to identify replacement candidates for any seats that are successfully recalled. Good candidates should support limited government and transparency. They should be fresh — we shouldn’t recycle old councilors. After all, there is a reason they are no longer on the council.

If the town is to move ahead, forward thinkers are needed who will respect the town charter, the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. More importantly, councilors should respect the people of this town. After all, that is who they work for.

Mark Elliott is a member of the Mechanic Falls Recall Committee.

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