Members of the Mechanic Falls town council listen to residents at a public forum last month. From left are town attorney John Conway, Coucilors Wayne Hackett, Cathy Fifield, John (Joe) Emery, Nicholas Konstantoulakis and Kieth Bennett. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

MECHANIC FALLS — Four town councilors will face a recall election, tentatively set for Tuesday, Sept. 24, Interim Town Clerk Julie Ward said Thursday.

They are Chairwoman Cathy Fifield, Vice Chairman Wayne Hackett, Nick Konstantoulakis and John Emery.

All four voted to relieve Town Manager Zakk Maher of his job on June 17. A fifth councilor, Kieth Bennett, voted against Maher’s dismissal.

In response to the council’s action, residents Mark Elliott, Aaron Ouellette, Randal Madore, Thomas Webster and William Dyer initiated a petition drive to recall the elected officials.

“For three months the people of Mechanic Falls spoke and their words fell on deaf ears,” Elliott said Thursday. “If all goes as planned, on Sept. 24 their voices will be heard. I do hope this recall serves as a reminder to our elected officials, at all levels of government and for many years to come, that they work for the people.”

The petition drive was not only motivated by the town’s refusal to offer more details behind Maher’s ouster, but many residents felt the council may have violated state law and similar rules laid out in the town charter for firing a town manager.

Signature collection began July 25 and Elliott, who organized the recall, submitted the petitions Aug. 19.

According to Ward, the petitioners had more than the required 192 signatures for each of the councilors marked for recall.

The council is scheduled to meet Tuesday and will have to confirm the Sept. 24 date for the recall election, as well as approve the ballot and appoint election clerks.

The recall vote has to occur within 30 days from the date the petitions were accepted.

At least 384 registered voters have to cast a vote in the recall election, according to the town charter. The charter states the total number of votes has to at least equal 30% of the total number of votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

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

Maher was out of office for nearly a month and half before the council rescinded the suspension at its Aug. 5 meeting. Maher went back to work Aug. 6.

Approving the Sept. 24 date is one of 26 items on Tuesday night’s council agenda. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

Other agenda items include consideration of an investigation of the town’s Code Enforcement Office.

In an email sent to Joan Walton at the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Maher wrote, “The Council has received formal and detailed complaints regarding the codes office. Our attorney has advised to utilize a provision in the charter to have the council make a formal investigation into allegations/decisions that have been made and allow the office to respond to an independent 3rd party that is knowledgeable of Land Use as well as state building codes.”

Bids from two real estate agents on selling the former medical building on 22 Pleasant St. will also be discussed. The building was purchased by the town two years ago with hopes of converting it to municipal office space. However, a follow-up engineer’s study revealed the property is too small to replace the town office building on Lewiston Street. The council decided to put the building on the market earlier this year.

Also on Tuesday, proposed resolutions dealing with conflicts of interest, transparency in action, council qualifications and the role of the town manager will get first readings.

An executive session dealing with a personnel matter is also on the agenda.


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