July 23, 2019
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Ogunquit town clerk denies recall petitions in dust up over fire chief’s firing

CBS 13 | BDN
CBS 13 | BDN
Former Ogunquit fire chief Mark O’Brien.

The town clerk issued findings Friday in the challenges made at a public hearing last week to signatures gathered to recall three Select Board members, denying all but three of the 11 challenges.

The recall effort seeks to oust Select Board Chair Charles “Bunky” Waite, Selectwoman Madeline Mooney and Selectman Bob Winn. Residents who initiated the recall process did so following a public appeal hearing on Oct. 9 when the three board members voted to support the termination of former fire chief Mark O’Brien. Selectmen Rick Dolliver and John Daley voted against upholding O’Brien’s termination.

The Jan. 11 hearing was scheduled by Town Clerk Chris Murphy after Ogunquit residents Mary Buck, Barbara Ferraro, Patricia Hussey and Peter Kahn filed challenges to the petitions. The petitioners gathered the required signatures and had submitted them to Murphy the day before the Dec. 7 deadline. Working with Augusta law firm Preti Flaherty, the challengers claimed irregularities in the petitions and legal issues surrounding the process.

[Residents angry over fire chief dismissal seek recall of 3 selectmen]

Twenty-two voters were challenged, including several from the recall petitioners who were invalidated by Murphy.

The group Take Back Ogunquit is spearheading the recall effort, and challenged Murphy’s decision to invalidate a handful of signatures on the petitions when she validated them.

During the meeting on Jan. 11, Murphy heard from challengers who spoke to support their claims, and also heard from the voters or petition circulators in question.

The majority of the signatures questioned by the challengers were around the person’s residency in Ogunquit or claimed the signature on the petition didn’t match their voter registration card. At the hearing either the petition circulator said they witnessed the person sign, or the voter vouched for themselves. In her decision, Murphy denied these challenges based on evidence provided at the hearing.

[‘I’ve got nothing to hide’: Town fire chief says he’ll fight termination]

Murphy granted the challenge made by Buck, Ferraro, Hussey and Kahn to the signature of Kathleen Cammarota noting that evidence provided showed she registered to vote in Florida in 2008 and has not registered in Ogunquit after that date. In her decision, Murphy invalidated Cammarota’s signature.

Stephen Weiner’s signature was declared invalid when the petitions were originally certified by Murphy because it did not match the signature on his voter registration card. He spoke at the hearing last week saying he realized he had different ways to sign documents, and provided documentation to support his signature. Boriana Dolliver was the challenger for Take Back Ogunquit, and her challenge was granted. Weiner’s signature was declared valid in Murphy’s decision.

[Former Ogunquit fire chief sues town over firing]

Dolliver also challenged the invalidation of a signature for Kacy Crowder, who signed the petition using her married name, while her maiden name was still on her voter registration card. Crowder submitted documents showing both her married and maiden names. This challenge was granted by Murphy in her decision and her signature was declared valid.

Murphy said in her decision issued Friday afternoon that she based her findings on factual evidence and she did not consider any legal arguments beyond the jurisdiction of her office.

 



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