PARIS — Even though the majority of selectmen believe the town policy regarding employees running for elected office isn’t clear, part-time firefighter Zachary Creps will be able to because the town’s attorney gave him the green light.

The issue was previously brought up by Creps’ opponent, Planning Board member Mike Risica, and was addressed at Wednesday’s selectmen meeting.

Town Clerk Liz Knox contacted Maine Municipal Association legal services before Creps took out his election papers to see if there was a violation of town policy. The MMA’s opinion was that there was nothing legally prohibiting him from running for office, according to Interim Town Manager Michael Madden.

The section of the policy focused on by selectmen and resident Rick Little was about political activity. It reads: “Employees of the town are prohibited from 1. serving in any elective position of this town’s government in which they may have any direct or indirect supervision of the themselves, their department, or the budget that controls their regular position or department.”

“I disagree with the lawyer, but he’s gone through a lot more schooling for that stuff than I,” Selectman Robert Wessels said.

Selectman Janet Jamison agreed with her colleague.

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“Because it says ‘direct or indirect,’ one might argue anything anyone votes on may affect them if they work for the town,” she said.

Madden said Town Manager Amy Bernard, who is on maternity leave, also consulted with the town’s attorney, who said if Creps is elected to the board, he would have to recuse himself from any matters concerning the Fire Department.

Creps said Thursday he agreed to this, if elected.

Selectman Sam Elliot thought the board should follow the town attorney’s advice.

Little read from another section of the policy that says: “An employee who decides to seek elective office in violation of sub-paragraph 1. above in this town shall, at the moment of declaration of candidacy, be suspended from employment with the town until the election is completed, or may ask for a leave of absence. If elected, the employment relationship with the town will be terminated upon taking office. If unsuccessful in the bid for election, the suspended employee may apply for the reinstatement.”

Little asked the board if it followed the town’s policy.

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“He’s a per-diem employee,” Elliot started to answer.

“Was it followed? Yes or no?” Little asked.

“The answer is no, not the way you’re reading it,” Wessels told Little. “That is ultimately the question we just wrestled with and continue to wrestle with.” 

“We don’t follow the policies unless it suits the town,” Little said. “That’s my opinion. This is ridiculous. This is plain black and white. There’s no wiggle room, this tells you what do.”

Jamison said she didn’t think the town policy was that clear and she and Wessels agreed it shouldn’t be addressed or changed now.

“In my mind, since it’s still mucky business, we should leave it as it is until we get through the election,” she said.

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No action was taken by the board Wednesday, but Wessels said he wanted to revisit the policy after the election.

Creps said there are fire departments in the area that have their firefighters serve as selectmen and it’s not usual.

“I see it as only a few people who are questioning it, and one of them is the guy who I am running against,” Creps said. “We’ve had this issue come up. We took care of it, now it’s time to move on.”

Before the meeting, Risica said he thought the policy was clear that Creps should not be allowed to run and hoped selectmen “would do the right thing.”

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