The front of a Mechanic Falls recall vote flyer.

MECHANIC FALLS — Voters will decide Tuesday whether to recall four of the five town councilors who voted to dismiss the town manager in June.

Balloting will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Municipal Building on Lewiston Street. There are four questions on the ballot, one for each councilor.

Those up for recall are Chairperson Cathy Fifield, Co-chairman Wayne Hackett, Nick Konstantoulakis and John Emery, all of whom voted June 17 to dismiss Zakk Maher.

Maher has since been reinstated.

He had completed 10 months of his four-year contract when he was removed from office following a 90-minute executive session. No specific reason was given.

Councilor Kieth Bennett opposed the decision.

Maher’s attorney, Adam Lee, advised councilors two days after the initial termination effort that they did not file a written preliminary resolution with the town clerk stating the specific reasons for the proposed removal for give Maher at copy within 10 days of the filing, both required by the town charter.

On June 25, the council voted to send a preliminary resolution letter to Maher explaining its decision and announced he was being placed on “administrative leave” immediately. The letter from Fifield stated the reason was “lack of communication, follow-through and fit with the town.”

Lee filed a lawsuit in Androscoggin County Superior Court on July 11 claiming the June 17 executive session was done “in a manner seeking to defeat the purposes of the Freedom of Access Act” and councilors tried to fire him in violation of state law, including informing the public.

Lee pointed out that town leaders turned off the video camera used to record public sessions and held a second meeting that night after the public had left without telling anyone, another violation of Maine’s open meetings law.

Four days later, Mark Elliott, Aaron Ouellette, Randal Madore, Thomas Webster and William Dyer presented a signed affidavit seeking a petition to recall Fifield, Hackett, Konstantoulakis and Emery. The document cited lack of confidence in the council, “behavior unbecoming of a representative of the people, their choosing to undermine and ignore the town’s charter and various state laws.”

Each of the four petitions had at least 192 signatures of registered voters.

On Aug. 5 the council voted to rescind Maher’s administrative leave, and he returned to his job the next day.

Interim Town Clerk Julie Ward said at least 385 registered voters must cast ballots in the recall election, according to the town charter.

The town faces a predicament if at least three councilors are recalled because the charter says the council “shall fill vacancies in its number occurring between regular municipal elections by an affirmative vote of at least three members, and the term of office of any member of the council so chosen shall expire at the next municipal election.”

Town Attorney Jack Conway said this is “new territory” for the town, and state agencies will be called to assist in finding a solution.

Asked to comment on the recall election, Elliott said, “As a committee, we began the recall process a couple months ago with the intention of putting the decision in the hands of the people of Mechanic Falls.

“We should all do our best, moving forward, to attend council meetings and express our concerns regularly,” he said. “Hopefully we will never have to go down this path again but our elected officials, at all levels of government, should be aware that it’s always an option.”


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