RUMFORD — Gov. Paul LePage has appointed former Mexico police chief James Theriault of Rumford to serve the remainder of Wayne Gallant’s term as Oxford County sheriff.
Gallant resigned Dec. 6 after allegations surfaced that he had sexually harassed members of his department.
Theriault retired in early 2014 after 20 years as Mexico’s police chief.
“I know there’s a lot of work to be done,” Theriault said. “I’m anxious to get in there and get started on it. And I hope the citizens of Oxford County will be patient with us. I hope to bring the good name of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office back.”
He said he could be sworn in as soon as Friday in South Paris.
Theriault was one of three candidates named by Oxford County Democrats for consideration for sheriff. The other nominees: Chief Deputy Hart Daley, currently the acting sheriff, and Lt. Mike Ward, currently serving on the Oxford Police Department.
The nominees had to come from the Democratic Party because Gallant won the sheriff’s seat as a Democrat.
Theriault said Gallant’s term ends Dec. 31. The new sheriff says he is preparing to run for a full term.
“I’ve already got my papers and I’m starting to get signatures,” Theriault said. “So yes, I am running. I figured if I run and win one term, which is four years, that’ll make me 74 years old, and that’s about enough.”
Asked about talk that he had already fired Acting Sheriff Hart Daley, Theriault said he has not fired anyone.
“Hart is resigning,” Theriault said, “but I did not fire him. I have the legal right to choose whoever I want as a chief deputy and I’m choosing somebody else other than Hart.”
Elaborating further, he said Daley is “eligible to retire anyway. His resigning date is effective on the 20th (of February).”
Theriault and his wife, Mary, went to Augusta on Monday to meet with LePage and the governor’s lead counsel. Theriault was notified of his appointment about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
He noted that his wife is “ecstatic” about his becoming sheriff.
“She was supportive and very happy,” he said, “And all my kids are.”
Theriault, elected in June 2017 to a three-year term on the Rumford Board of Selectmen, said he will decide over the next couple of months whether to resign.
“I’m going to have my hands full (at the Sheriff’s Office) in South Paris,” he said.
James Theriault of Rumford has been appointed Oxford County sheriff. (file photo)