LePage taps Gervais tapped for economic development post

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine Gov. Paul LePage is tapping the acting commissioner of Maine Department of Economic & Community Development to replace the commissioner who resigned last month following remarks that offended rural residents, African-Americans and Native Americans, the governor’s office said Monday.

The announcement that LePage selected George Gervais to the post comes less than a month after the resignation of Commissioner Philip Congdon.

Unlike Congdon, who spent his career in the private sector, Gervais has State House experience, having worked as the agency’s legislative liaison as well as serving as acting commissioner. The nomination faces a legislative committee review and a Senate confirmation vote.

Gervais didn’t immediately return a message left at his office.

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The post is an important one in LePage’s administration, which is focused on economic development and removing red tape and obstacles to job creation.

Congdon, an engineer by background, got into trouble after being quoted as saying affirmative action programs had contributed to a decline in higher education, that residents of northern Maine lacked parenting skills, and that northern residents needed to “get off the reservation” if they wanted to succeed.

After resigning under pressure from LePage, Congdon said he never made some of the alleged remarks and that other remarks had been misconstrued.

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