WATERVILLE — Voters on June 12 will decide whether Mayor Nick Isgro will remain the city’s mayor, since the City Council on Tuesday voted 6-0 to place the recall question on the ballot that day.

With Isgro and Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, absent from the meeting, about a dozen people sat in the audience to hear councilors discuss the recall. Later the council held a workshop to discuss proposed budgets for assessing, information technology, administration and public works.

Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, said Isgro asked him to preside over Tuesday’s meeting, as he would not be present.

Councilor Lauren Lessing, D-Ward 3, made a motion to place the mayoral recall question on the ballot June 12 ,and Councilor John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, seconded her motion.

Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, and a staunch supporter of Isgro, said he wanted to say something about the recall effort, though “I don’t even know where to start.”

“Definitely, the climate of our great city of Waterville is under enormous storm clouds as we speak, obviously,” he said. Mayhew described the atmosphere as a “circus” and said he does not support the recall.


“I definitely want to say that I’m categorically opposed to this,” he said.

Mayhew added that he planned to vote to put the recall question on the June 12 ballot so the public can weigh in on it and the city can move forward. He said everyone has differing opinions about the recall and now other councilors are the subjects of recall campaigns, and an array of different things are happening that “really breaks the heart of residents.”

“The city has never been — and the council has never been — so divided,” Mayhew said.

He said a lot of church and business leaders are “up in arms” about the recalls and there is a dark cloud over the city as downtown revitalization is in progress. “We have to get this over with, …” he said of the recalls.

“Business as usual has to be the nameplate of our city.”

Lessing asked for clarification about the vote councilors were to take Tuesday, saying their only role was to set a date — that they could not prevent the recall from happening.


“This was a citizen’s initiative,” she said, to which Soule agreed, saying it was not a decision that should be made by seven councilors.

City Solicitor Bill Lee said councilors were under a directive to order the recall and that their only discretion was to determine when the election will be.

“Just so you know, regardless of how you feel about this, the charter is as clear as can be — your only role here is to decide when in the next 45 days the election will occur,” Lee said.

O’Donnell sought clarification from Lee about whether the vote could be vetoed.

Lee said it cannot be vetoed because the charter says that is what is supposed to happen.

“Does the charter directly address it? No,” Lee said, adding however, that the charter requires it.


Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, said she wanted to echo other councilors’ commitment to the democratic process, but she also wanted to let people know that councilors are committed to doing the work of the city.

After the vote, City Clerk Patti Dubois said absentee ballots should be available next week and voters may submit requests for those ballots to her office now for absentee ballots, by either calling or stopping in.

She said the mayoral and Ward 5 ballots must be counted by hand after the June 12 vote because there was not enough time to get machines programmed and ballots printed by a vendor. The election will take place 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Thomas College Field House, she said. State ballot questions will be counted by machine, she said. With all the different questions and special items on the ballot, the process is complicated and totals will not be announced by 9 p.m. as usual, Dubois said.

Totals might come as late as midnight, according to Dubois.

“It’s going to be challenging for all of us. It’s been very busy,” she said.

If the mayor is recalled, the council chairman would take over some duties of the mayor but is not considered an “acting mayor,” according to Lee. The council chairman still would sit on the council and vote, but he would not have veto power, Lee said.


If the Ward 5 councilor is recalled, he said, the council would decide what to do to fill the seat, he said.

The mayoral recall effort was triggered by Isgro’s social media comments, including the tweet “Eat it, Hogg,” aimed at Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor David Hogg. The Republican mayor was using his personal Twitter account and responding to a story that Fox News would continue to back host Laura Ingraham after she made disparaging remarks about Hogg. Isgro later deleted the tweet, but screenshots of it traveled on social media and the Maine Democratic Party released statements condemning the remark and supporting the effort to recall Isgro as mayor.

A group of Waterville residents, including former mayor Karen Heck, announced a recall petition effort against Isgro. The petitioners gathered 1,033 signatures from Waterville residents asking that the mayoral recall appear on the June 12 ballot. The city clerk’s office verified 887 of those signatures, rejected 128 and disqualified 18.

Others, including Jay Coelho, a Libertarian who sought the Ward 5 seat vacated by Republican Nick Champagne, started a recall effort against O’Donnell, whom the council appointed to represent Ward 5.

The council on May 1 voted 6-0 to place the O’Donnell recall request on the June 12 election ballot. O’Donnell abstained from voting.

Meanwhile, a third recall effort is underway against Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7. Andy Roy, along with his parents Patrick and Marilyn Roy, is spearheading the effort. They filed the paperwork Monday to recall Dupont. The Roys do not live in Ward 7. The City Charter does not stipulate that individuals taking out petition papers be a resident of the ward, but simply a registered voter of Waterville.


Lee said at Tuesday night’s meeting that people have asked him why voters who do not live in Ward 7 can file an affidavit to recall a councilor in that ward.

“The charter does not require that,” he said. “They just have to be a resident of the city.”

Roy said Monday that he had heard concerns from friends and relatives who live in Ward 7 that they were not being represented by Dupont and that she votes against the interest of her constituents. Dupont, who was elected in 2015, is up for re-election in November, though she has not said whether she plans to run for re-election.

Isgro has called into question the integrity of the mayoral recall effort and has posted pictures on his personal Facebook page of several people who collected petition signatures but live outside of Waterville. Isgro’s critics say the postings are a way of intimidating people.

The recall efforts come as political tension has increased in the city. Coelho organized the O’Donnell recall effort after the council on April 3 appointed him to the Ward 5 seat, after Champagne resigned to become the city engineer. Coelho, Democrat Julian Payne and Republican George Thiboutot had sought the Ward 5 seat but were not appointed.

Payne, a member of the Waterville Board of Education, had packed the council chamber with his supporters, who were angry when he was not appointed. O’Donnell served in the seat for about 10 years before opting not to seek re-election in 2016.


The Roys must collect 101 signatures by May 29 to force a recall vote for Dupont; however, if they collect enough signatures and the signatures are verified, that recall would not be on the ballot as early as June 12 because it would not have met the deadline for that date.

The city’s finance director, Heather Rowden, noted Tuesday night that each election after the June 12 election will cost the city about $2,000.

Roy, who ran for mayor as a Republican in 2011, has been a public advocate of Isgro. He made T-shirts that say “Eat it Hogg,” in reference to the Isgro tweet that prompted controversy. Roy sells the shirts online for his company, Maine’s Royal Tees.

Waterville resident and businessman Bill Mitchell asked Tuesday night whether the charter stipulates causes for prompting a recall. He said he was under the impression that it was for embezzlement and other such causes. Lee said when dealing with the possible removal of an elected official, it could be for any reason.

“There is no requirement to specify a reason,” Lee said.

“I must have misunderstood that. Thank you,” Mitchell replied.


Meanwhile, Dubois asked for patience in the unusual election situation. She and her staff have had to verify all petition signatures, which is time-consuming.

“Patience on everyone’s part is appreciated because it’s been tough on everybody,” Dubois said.

Tate thanked Dubois and her office staff for all the work they have done.

“Sarah’s been a trooper, for sure,” Dubois said, referring to Deputy Clerk Sarah Cross.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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