Four Ogunquit residents on Monday sued to stop a recall election targeting three Select Board members.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the lawsuit, filed in York County Superior Court, asks a judge to block the recall effort to unseat Chairman Charles Waite III and board members Madeline Moody and Robert Winn.
It is the latest episode in a small town drama that began last year after the dismissal of fire chief Mark O’Brien. O’Brien’s firing and the subsequent recall — the first in the town’s history, according to the Press Herald — has left the York County town sharply divided.
The four residents — Mary Buck, Barbara Ferraro, Patricia Hussey and Peter Kahn — cite in their lawsuit issues with recall petitions and how town officials handled the recall process, the Press Herald reports. The suit comes days after the Select Board received the recall petitions and voted unanimously to wait until Feb. 5 to schedule a date for the recall election, which will likely happen in April or May.
The recall effort, led by the group Take Back Ogunquit, was launched in October after the three Select Board members voted to uphold O’Brien’s termination.
In December, O’Brien sued the town in York County Superior Court. His complaint asks the court to vacate his firing and order the town to reinstate him with back pay, full benefits and paid legal fees.
O’Brien was put on paid administrative leave by Town Manager Pat Finnigan on June 27, 2018, during an investigation into concerns brought to her by firefighters. Finnigan fired O’Brien on Sept. 18, 2018, after the investigation concluded.
His firing was appealed to the Select Board on Oct. 9, 2018, and the board ultimately upheld his termination in a 3-2 vote.