Divided North Yarmouth selectmen need lottery to pick chairman

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NORTH YARMOUTH — After the four-member Board of Selectmen couldn’t elect a new chairman July 7, the decision was made by lottery.

Selectman Alex Carr was randomly selected as chairman for the next year. Newly elected Selectman Jeanne Chadbourne was then elected vice chairwoman.

The board is down to four members until a special election is held Sept 21 to replace former Selectman Clark Whittier, who resigned June 30.

Steve Palmer, chairman for the past three years, noted near the start of the meeting that there was the possibility of a tie vote. Since the Town Charter is not explicit about what happens in that case, state law would determine what to do next, he said.

According to Town Clerk Debbie Grover, the Maine Municipal Association Municipal Officers Manual says that if a board of municipal offers is unable to elect a chairman, the town clerk must choose one through a lottery.

So on July 7, the selectmen’s names went on slips of paper in a jar. But not before there was some debate.

After Palmer called for a nomination for chairman, Chadbourne, who is a former selectman, said she had been told by Town Manager Rosemary Roy that Selectman Mark Girard would be the next chairman. Chadbourne also said she was unaware of any vote having been taken.

Roy said she told Chadbourne that Girard “probably” would be the next chairman.

Palmer said that a year ago, when he consented to serve a third year as chairman, “there was an agreement among the selectmen that we would put Mark’s name up for chairman. … It was a conversation, but there was never any vote.”

While he would still be willing to serve as chairman, Girard said, “I have no particular interest in being the chair. I will serve if called, and be very happy if not.”

Carr then nominated Chadbourne as chairwoman.

Girard moved that, since there will be an election in September for the fifth selectman, the town’s bylaws be suspended during for now so Palmer could remain as chairman until the full five-member board could vote.

Palmer said he would be willing to continue, “but I really need to step down (after the September election). The board needs different leadership. I think it’s important that you change roles.”

After Girard’s motion received no second, Palmer nominated him as chairman.

When the votes were tallied, Chadbourne and Girard each had two.

Then came the jar. Grover inserted the four board members’ names on separate pieces of paper.

“I feel like I’m on ‘Survivor,'” Chadbourne said quietly.

Grover pulled the piece with Carr’s name, Carr accepted the position, and he and Palmer switched seats.

Palmer then nominated Girard as vice chairman, and Carr nominated Chadbourne. Girard withdrew his name from consideration, and Chadbourne was unanimously elected vice chairwoman.

The board was narrowly split in another recent decision, voting 3-2 last month to extend Roy’s contract by one year. Palmer, Girard, and former Selectman Paul Napolitano voted in favor, with Carr and Whittier opposed.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.