OTISFIELD – Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday evening not to discipline Town Clerk Sharon Matthews for remarks she made at last week’s meeting to elect a selectman.

The decision followed a 90-minute executive session, after which the board discussed comments Matthews made to voters Thursday night, Sept. 4, before they cast their ballots.

In that special election to fill Mark Cyr’s seat on the board, former longtime Selectman Lenny Adler defeated newcomer Karen Turino, 135-127.

After both candidates’ spoke at the meeting, Matthews said she had heard that one of them, who she did not name, sent out invitations to a social event for people to get to know them better. Matthews said only certain individuals received invitations, and that she considered the gathering a special interest group. She urged residents to carefully consider their vote.

The remarks drew boos – there was some applause also – from the crowd, and meeting moderator Frank Blauvelt said the time for public comment would not be used for negative remarks on either candidate.

Turino, who was one of three residents attending the selectmen’s meeting Wednesday, said she held a social event Labor Day, Sept. 1, for which she sent out 300 invitations. Turino said she gathered several public lists of residents to use in sending invitations, and left some people off because they already knew her.

“We got every list we could get,” Turino said.

Matthews did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. Contacted by phone Thursday night, she said, “I’d rather not comment at this time.”

Selectmen said they considered Matthews’ remarks unfortunate, but she did nothing illegal.

Chairman Hal Ferguson said he consulted with town attorney Geoffrey Hole, who advised that Matthews was speaking as a resident when she made the comments.

Selectman Rick Micklon said he had consulted with a representative from the Maine Municipal Association, who told him such a situation is not unusual.

“Different employees in different towns feel the need, the passionate need, to stand up and speak their piece,” Micklon said.

He said that while Matthews’ remarks were made as a resident, it would have been better for her to sit in the audience and raise her hand before making them.

Adler said Matthews told him prior to the meeting that she was planning to make comments and he advised her not to.

“I really thought she was not going to do it,” Adler said. “We come into this building as friends and neighbors, and we’ve got to keep it that way.”

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