Desjardins takes oath

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AUBURN – Only hours before Androscoggin County held its first inauguration ceremony for a new sheriff, the guest of honor worried that someone set up too many chairs.

There was no need to worry.

Several hundred people – police officers, municipal leaders, friends and family – filled Central Maine Community College’s gym Thursday to witness Guy Desjardins take his oath as the new sheriff.

“All I can say is ‘wow,'” Desjardins said when the speeches and salutes were over Thursday night.

Minutes earlier, at the podium, he choked up as he thought about the previous year’s events, from his firing as chief deputy to his campaign against former Sheriff Ron Gagnon to the death of longtime colleague Deputy David Rancourt.

“I’m sorry for getting choked up a little bit towards the end,” he told the crowd. “It’s been a long year.”

The ceremony was fairly brief, lasting less than an hour.

Honor guards from Androscoggin and Cumberland counties appeared. Speeches came from Androscoggin County Commissioner Elmer Berry and Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion.

Superior Court Justice Thomas E. Delahanty II administered the oath.

Then, Desjardins spoke.

His message echoed much of his campaign – that the county needs to do a better job of reaching out to its 14 towns.

And some changes are needed.

“Tonight, I cannot say whether things will improve,” he said. “(But) we need to embrace change as a new opportunity.”

There were hints to the ongoing budget controversy, the most recent step being the County Commission’s refusal to accept Desjardins’ plan for adding two patrol officers in place of two positions eliminated in the jail.

Berry had reminded attendees of L.D. 1, the statewide referendum that caps increases in property taxes. But Desjardins continued his plea for his officers, keeping them in the present tense as he described his plan.

It was intentional, a signal to his deputies that he planned to continue his fight for the jobs. He plans to make a plea for the jobs to the Budget Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10.

“I needed to send the staff a message that this is not a forgotten issue,” he said.

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