PERU — Loud objections to a proposed ordinance that would prohibit town employees from holding an elected office in the town ended the selectmen’s meeting Monday night.

The first interruption came when Chairman Tim Holland called a recess after people started screaming at him. After returning to the table, Holland said he only would listen to one person at a time. If rules weren’t followed, he would end the meeting. 

When recess was called, Selectman Ed Ferland grabbed his notes and said he was leaving. He did not return. 

When tempers flared again, Selectman Laurie Ann Milligan tried to make peace by saying, “I love the fact that you all are passionate about this subject. We brought this forward before you had similar concerns.”

This brought another outburst from the crowd, and Milligan said, “That’s it. I’m gone.”

Holland adjourned the meeting without finishing the agenda.

The point of contention was brought by John Witherell who presented a petition to the selectmen in April that he requested be put on the warrant. The article on the referendum that addresses the concern of the petition asks voters, “Article 26. Shall the Town adopt an Ordinance for Political Activity Involving Town Employees dated April 9, 2012?  Selectmen and Finance Committee recommend yes.”

The petition asked that no town employees serve on the Board of Selectmen or the Finance Committee.

But the wording of Article 26 is confusing, Martha Witherell said. “No one will know what it means,” she said.

Clerk Vera Parent said the ordinance would be posted in the voting booth.

When Holland asked Martha Witherell what they really wanted, she replied, “to not have town employees on the board.” 

John Witherell, who is running for selectman in June, told Holland, “Tim, this is really sleazy. I’m really pissed off, and you can go to hell.”

At that point the meeting was over. 

The ordinance states: “Town of Peru employees may seek or accept nominations for election to any office in town government while employed by the town, provided that no person may maintain employment with the town if the person is elected to and accepts a position on the Peru Board of Selectmen or Peru Finance Committee. Any employee elected as a member of Peru’s Board of Selectmen or Peru’s Finance Committee shall resign from employment prior to taking office with exception of on-call fire department personnel.”

Parent said that absentee ballots are available in the office to be picked up.

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