Penobscot County Treasurer John Hiatt. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The man who replaced John Hiatt on the ballot last year as the Republican candidate for state Senate in Bangor and Hermon has launched a petition effort to remove Hiatt, who is facing harassment and stalking charges, from the Bangor School Board.

Hiatt, 38, of Bangor also serves as the elected treasurer of Penobscot County. While the city charter allows for the recall of elected officials, there is no provision in state law to recall elected county or state officials.

Sean Hinkley, 27, took out the recall petition from the city clerk on Friday. He gathered signatures from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday outside his home at 188 Stillwater Ave. in Bangor. As of 5:30 p.m., he’d gathered 11 signatures.

Hinkley, a Republican, replaced Hiatt on the ballot after Hiatt withdrew from the state Senate race following the June 2020 primary. Democrat Joe Baldacci won the seat in November.

Sean Hinkley kicked off a campaign to recall Bangor School Board member John Hiatt on Monday outside Hinkley’s home on Stillwater Avenue. Credit: Judy Harrison / BDN

David and Sue Harnish, who live near Hiatt, stopped by to sign the petition. Both said they wanted Hiatt to resign because he’s been charged with crimes.

“I don’t like that he’s using his autism as an excuse for his behavior,” she said.

Hiatt, who maintains he is innocent, has been open about his autism and the challenges he faces due to the condition. 

Hiatt is accused of stalking and harassing a 34-year-old Bangor woman on social media and text messages to her cell phone. He was arrested on May 14 by Bangor police on multiple charges, including a felony charge of aggravated invasion of computer privacy. He was taken to the Penobscot County Jail and released about 24 hours later on $5,000 cash bail. 

Hiatt is charged with one count each of aggravated invasion of computer privacy, a Class C crime; stalking, a Class D crime; theft by unauthorized taking, a Class E crime; and two counts of harassment, a Class D crime.

Two days after his arrest, Hiatt said that he was a victim of abuse from the woman he’s accused of stalking and harassing.

“I consider myself a very smart person,” he said. “But having autism, I don’t get people. On a personal level, I have opened myself up to be hurt and exploited many times.”

Hinkley, who has no children in Bangor schools, started the recall petition for the community, he said Monday.

“I just don’t think John is the right person to be on the school board,” he said. 

Hinkley also said that Hiatt is “a horrible” representative for Republicans in Bangor.

Hiatt has announced that he is running for reelection to the school board this fall, at the end of his first three-year term. 

“Because the November election coincides with the end of Mr. Hiatt’s term, the recall effort is a pointless exercise that would require additional spending on a special election just months before voters go to the polls,” Hiatt’s attorney Harris Mattson said Monday.

Hinkley said that the recall process can’t wait until November.

“He needs to be removed immediately,” he said.

Hiatt also has announced that he will seek reelection next year to a second four-year term as county treasurer.

Hiatt has said he will fight the charges and will not resign from the school board or as county treasurer. So far, no member of the school committee or the county commissioners has called for his resignation.

If Hinkley gathers an initial 100 signatures, the city clerk would issue more petitions and require they be submitted within 30 days, according to the city charter. Ten percent of all voters registered as of last Friday would be required to sign petitions to put a recall question on the ballot.

Once the petitions were received and the signatures certified as valid, the city would have to hold a recall election within 40 to 60 days, according to the city charter. Once a recall is announced, replacement candidates could file for the position should the recall effort be successful.

Hiatt is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the charges in July.

If convicted of the felony invasion of privacy law, Hiatt faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Class D crimes carry a maximum one-year term of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,000, and the maximum sentence and fine for a Class E crime are six months in jail and $1,000.

People who wish to sign the recall petition can call Hinkley at 207-408-9109.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated Sen. Joe Baldacci’s first name. An earlier photo cutline in this report misstate Sean Hinkley’s first name.