PARIS — Following criticism that the election of its chairman was done outside the public eye, the Board of Selectmen confirmed a written vote Monday giving Raymond Glover the office.

The board elected Glover chairman in a 4-1 secret ballot on June 28. Ted Kurtz was made vice chairman by three votes in an ensuing hand vote. Such votes have been taken by hand in recent years, but Kurtz said the chairman’s vote had to be taken by a secret written ballot under state statute.

The statute says that the town may designate a chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and that the board shall elect a chairman from its own members if no member is designated at a town meeting. The statute also says the town clerk shall determine a chairman by lot if no member receives a majority.

Four members voted in favor of Glover, with one voting in favor of Selectman Lloyd “Skip” Herrick. After the vote, Glover joked, “Guess who didn’t vote for himself.” The hand vote on the vice chairman’s position was taken after a written ballot drew nominations for three members and Kurtz agreed that the statute did not outline a process for selecting a vice chairman.

Resident Barbara Payne criticized the process during the meeting, saying the secret vote led to less transparency on the board.

“I think freedom of access was stood on its head when open nominations were not permitted,” she said.

In a Sun Journal editorial published on Monday, the newspaper commented on a proposed Jay School Committee policy prohibiting secret votes and said such votes at public municipal meetings are already prohibited under the Maine Freedom of Access Act. The editorial also cited the Paris vote, arguing that the selectmen should have signed their names on the written ballots to make the process public.

Selectman Jean Smart said she asked Town Manager Philip Tarr to call the Maine Municipal Association office on Monday after seeing the editorial and that an attorney there told them the vote was “not really done legally.” Smart said the statute refers to towns that elect chairmen at town meetings, and therefore did not apply to Paris.

Kurtz said that the statute applied to Paris for that very reason, and was also meant to prevent intimidation from keeping a single chairman in place year after year. He said people knew that Glover voted for Herrick and the other members voted for Glover due to the split in the vote.

“The Sun Journal is just dead wrong, although it did kind of squiggle off and say, ‘Well, even if you did have to do it by ballot, you should have announced who voted for whom,’ and I’m not arguing that point,” he said.

Smart motioned to take a second vote to ensure the process was legal and public. Herrick said the statute did not include language making the ballot a secret vote, and also did not specify whether selectmen should sign their names to their ballots. He suggested that a vote might be delayed until a later date, as most members of the audience had left due to the late hour and an executive session held prior to the vote.

The board had further discussions over whether the vote was to ratify the decision or take a new vote on a chairman. The final vote, agreed upon by all members except Glover, was to retain Glover as chairman and was approved by a show of hands.

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