A Maine judge has temporarily stopped Ogunquit from moving ahead with a recall election spurred by a controversy over the dismissal of the town’s former fire chief.
The Portland Press Herald reports that York County Superior Court Justice John O’Neil on Tuesday issued a temporary stay stopping the Ogunquit Select Board from setting a date for a recall election targeting Chairman Charles Waite III and board members Madeline Moody and Robert Winn. The Select Board was scheduled to set a date for the recall election on Tuesday night.
[Residents angry over fire chief dismissal seek recall of 3 selectmen]
That decision came in response to a lawsuit filed last month by Ogunquit residents Mary Buck, Barbara Ferraro, Patricia Hussey and Peter Kahn seeking to block the recall effort, citing issues with recall petitions and how town officials handled the recall process. The lawsuit asks the court to stop the town from moving forward with the effort to unseat the three Select Board members, according to the Press Herald..
In addition to stopping the Select Board from voting to set a date for the recall election, it also temporarily stops the use of a provision of the Ogunquit charter to have a notary call the election if the Select Board fails to, according to the Press Herald.
The recall effort, led by the group Take Back Ogunquit, was launched in October after the three Select Board members voted to uphold former fire chief Mark O’Brien’s termination.
[‘I’ve got nothing to hide’: Town fire chief says he’ll fight termination]
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.
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.