MECHANIC FALLS — Shortly after 8 a.m. Monday, resident Mark Elliott presented interim Town Clerk Julie Ward with signed petitions to recall four members of the Town Council.

Mechanic Falls Interim Town Clerk Julie Ward accepts collected signatures on four recall petitions Monday morning. Eriks Petersons photo

Council Chairwoman Cathy Fifield, Vice Chairman Wayne Hackett and Councilors Nick Konstantoulakis and John Emery were targeted for recall by Elliott and four other residents after a 4-1 vote by the council June 17 to dismiss Zakk Maher as town manager.

Councilor Kieth Bennett, who voted against the dismissal, was not included in the recall.

Elliott and Aaron Ouellette, Randal Madore, Thomas Webster and William Dyer began collecting residents’ signatures July 25.

The petitioners needed to have at least 192 signatures for each of the councilors targeted for recall. Elliott produced the final numbers: Hackett, 248; Fifield, 242; Konstantoulakis, 231; and Emery 224.

The town charter stipulates “within 20 days after the petition has been filed, the clerk shall complete a certificate as to its sufficiency.”

Ward first has to make sure enough of the signatures belong to registered voters in town. If they do, the Town Council has 30 days to call for a special vote for the recall.

Folders with the collected signed petitions for recall of four Mechanic Falls town councilors. Eriks Petersons photo

According to the charter, the special recall municipal election requires “the total number of votes cast for and against recall is at least equal to 30% of the total number of qualified voters who cast votes for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election.”

That figure would have to be at least 384 voters, if a recall vote were to happen.

Any councilor who loses in a recall election steps down immediately. That same councilor, however, is not prohibited from running again for the same office.

The petition drive was motivated by the town’s refusal to offer more details behind Maher’s ouster. The council might have also violated state law and similar rules laid out in the town charter for firing a town manager.

Maher’s lawyer, Adam Lee, had filed a lawsuit in Androscoggin County Superior Court alleging the council made an illegal attempt to terminate the town manager.

At several public meetings, the language on dismissing Maher was changed to a preliminary resolution placing Maher on administrative leave until a public hearing was held. A public hearing was set for Aug. 15 to discuss Maher’s future with the town.

At its Aug. 5 session, the Town Council voted 4-0 to rescind the preliminary resolution, and Maher was returned the next day as town manager. The public hearing was canceled.


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