OGUNQUIT, Maine — The chair of the Ogunquit Select Board, who survived a recall attempt along with two other board members earlier this spring, announced his resignation at Aug. 20’s meeting.
Charles “Bunky” Waite’s announcement at the end of the board meeting came as a surprise to everyone, Town Manager Pat Finnigan said Aug. 21.
Waite gave no reason for his sudden departure in his announcement at the meeting, but said in an interview that it is due to a private matter that he has been dealing with in recent weeks.
Waite’s three-year term is up next June, and an election to appoint a replacement for the remainder of his term will take place in November.
“It has been a true honor to serve the town of Ogunquit once again as a selectman and as board chair,” Waite said in a statement Aug. 20 just before adjourning the meeting.
Waite previously served on the Select Board from 2003-2006, chairing the board from 2005-2006. He was most recently elected in 2017.
The Select Board scheduled a special meeting for 3:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Dunaway Center to vote to authorize a shorter time period for filing nomination papers for Waite’s Select Board term. Finnigan said state statute allows Town Clerk Chris Murphy to have a shorter period for nomination papers, which means voting could take place at the scheduled Nov. 5 election, avoiding another special election. The nomination petitions will be available until 4 p.m. Sept. 6.
Waite’s resignation follows months of polarizing political turmoil in the four-square mile town, where an attempted recall of Waite, Madeline Mooney and Bob Winn bitterly divided the town. The recall was initiated by residents upset when the three board members voted to support the termination of former fire chief Mark O’Brien by Finnigan. During a special election on May 9, Ogunquit voters narrowly supported Waite, Mooney and Winn, voting not to recall them.
Waite didn’t resign prior to the recall because the private matter came up afterward, he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
“This was not a matter I was dealing with at the time. I had no anticipation that this was going to arise. It’s something I have to deal with and I will deal with it,” he said.
John Daley, one of the two members of the Select Board who was not a part of the recall attempt, said on Aug. 22 that he respects Waite’s personal reasons for resigning, and appreciates that he will remain an active member of the board until a new member is voted in to replace him.
“I know the entire board wishes him well and thanks him for his years of service,” Daley said. “As a community we will continue to move forward and focus on being responsible overseers of this beautiful town.”
Finnigan said on Aug. 22 that she has valued Waite’s leadership, past experience and knowledge of the community during her tenure as town manager.
“Chairman Waite has been available to all members of the community and talks with all sorts of people. As a result of those conversations, he always has a ‘to do’ list that he updates regularly so the staff and I can address those concerns. He is a stickler for follow-through — which is one of the many reasons I enjoy working with him,” she said. “He wants the best for the people of Ogunquit. He believes strongly in public service and understands that being an elected or appointed official is a public trust. Chairman Waite has worked tirelessly during his term in office to create a culture of openness and civility. It hasn’t always been easy, but he has stayed true to working with the Select Board to set that tone for the way they conduct the people’s business. His leadership will be missed.”
Nothing will change until the Nov. 5 election to elect his replacement, according to Waite.
“It is important to me to meet my obligation. I will miss one meeting between now and Nov. 5, that’s it,” he said.
“I love Ogunquit,” Waite said as he recalled arriving in town 30 years ago from college, working as a pianist.
“I came here as a young man out of college for a summer and ended up spending a lifetime here. I love the energy and the beauty of Ogunquit.”
He urged interested candidates to run for his seat, and not worry about what has happened in the past. He said the town has to “rise above the divisiveness and put things in the past. We have faced challenges and we learned that we can get through them.”
Waite thanked his fellow board members, saying an infusion of young energy with newly elected member Lindsey Perry is a good thing.
He also praised Finnigan saying he worked well with her.
“I think Pat is top notch, and she helped me an awful lot. She is a good town manager,” he said.