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Recall topples three, election March 4
POLAND — Three members of the town's selectboard, including the chair and vice chair, have been ousted from their positions following a recall vote held January 3.
The three vacant seats will be filled in a special election scheduled for March 4.
The board members lost their seats by substantial margins. Voters selected "yes" to recall or "no" not to.
Chairwoman Wendy Sanborn received 360 "yes" votes to 206 "no" votes, Vice Chair Larry Moreau had 350 "yes" to 216 "no" and James Fernald had 305 "yes" to 261 "no."
In October, Sanborn, Fernald and Moreau voted to fire former Town Manager Rosemary Kulow, in an abrupt move following an executive session.
Kulow's termination sparked a public outcry and residents quickly organized a recall committee, accusing the board members of violating the town's charter, which outlines a procedure for the removal of a town manager, when they terminated Kulow's contract.
Through the ordeal, the three board members claimed the termination was fully justified under the terms of Kulow's employment agreement.
On Friday, Sanborn said she had "no regrets" about her decisions as a member of the board.
"The people have spoken ... and I just wish the town of Poland the very best," Sanborn said.
"As far as my actions leading up to this, I have no apologies to offer, I don't regret it and I'd do it again, even knowing it could result in this."
Sanborn, who has been on the board nine years and would reach her term limit in 2013, said she was mainly upset that Moreau and Fernald, both near the beginning of their terms, lost their seats.
"The town has lost a couple of really good selectmen and that saddens me," Sanborn said.
Recall Committee Member Art Berry, on Friday, said he was pleased with the result of the vote.
"The voters of Poland worked real hard to put this through and they did," Berry said. "We're real happy."
He said the recall of the three selectboard members could give the town a chance to bring on new board members and move forward.
"We're just happy we're not going down the same old road, if you know what I mean," Berry said, adding there was a "whole bunch" of issues the town needed to deal with.
Reached Friday, Town Manager Rosemary Roy said the election result was "very discouraging."
"I feel it was a very unfair process," Roy said.
"None of it was based on the facts. The fact is, they were well within their authority to act, solely based upon her contract."
According to Roy, the ballot itself was unclear to voters. She said the election warden reported that many voters found the question's wording confusing and thought recall meant keeping the board members in office.
The recalled selectmen do not have any recourse to contest the election result, Roy said, but all three may run for the position in an upcoming election.
Sanborn said she had no immediate plans to reenter town politics, iterating that she had no regrets with the course of events.
"We did what we thought was best for the town and I firmly believe that all three of us feel the same way even today."
The removal of Sanborn, Moreau and Fernald leaves the board of selectmen with two members, Lester Stevens and Stephen Robinson. The board needs at least three members to reach quorum.
Reached Monday, Stevens said Maine statute permitted the reduced board to approve the payment of town bills, but it could not take formal votes.
Stevens said he and Robinson met with Roy last Friday and agreed to a schedule for a special election to fill the three seats. One of the seats is a one-month term, the others are for two years.
Nomination papers were made available January 4 and candidates have until January 18 to return them to the town office. The election is set for March 4.