PARIS — Gary Vaughn Sr. is running for a seat on the Paris Board of Selectmen, and some residents are making a campaign issue of his past crimes.

The Sun Journal has received a number of anonymous messages, including a mailed copy of Vaughn’s criminal history run through the State Bureau of Identification, with suggestions his past should be exposed.

Vaughn said he’s remorseful and ashamed of what he calls “bad choices” in the past, but doesn’t think those mistakes should “continue to paint me.”

He said hew knew his convictions would become an issue in the campaign, so rather than wait to be exposed he posted a Facebook message acknowledging and explaining his actions, and asking for voter support.

“My past should not be a bigger issue than the issues that really count,” he said. “Paris deserves better than that.”

In 2000, Vaughn pleaded guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault, reckless conduct and violating conditions of release. He served 15 months in prison, followed by four years of probation.

In exchange for his guilty plea, charges of burglary, criminal mischief, terrorizing, theft, arson and criminal threatening with a weapon were dismissed.

Years before that, according to court records, he paid a series of fines for separate misdemeanor trespass, assault and disorderly conduct convictions in 1972, 1979 and 1980.

Vaughn welcomes the scrutiny, he said.

“I made mistakes 18 years ago,” he said. “I paid in every way what the judicial system said I should.”

He said he has spent the time since his release “trying to better myself.”

On June 13, the voters of Paris will go to the polls to fill two selectmen seats held by Janet Jamison, who serves as chairman of the board, and Kathy Richardson, who was elected in 2016 to serve a six-month vacancy left by Vic Hodgkins.

Hodgkins is now the town’s full-time manager.

Jamison and Richardson are seeking re-election, and Vaughn and fellow newcomer John Andrews are challenging them.

According to Vaughn, who — along with Andrews — was recently appointed to serve on the town’s Economic Development Committee, he hopes voters will look beyond his criminal record and see him as a candidate who intends to bring a new energy to the board. If voters don’t, he said, “what kind of message does that give to someone who has made a mistake? Does it mean no one can ever” get a second chance?

Vaughn has so far refused to answer his critics, saying he is running on issues not innuendo, but he acknowledged the pressure brought by opponents is real.

Jamison, an outspoken woman who has served as a selectmen for more than seven years in two separate stints since the early 1990s, is aware people are asking questions about Vaughn’s past and she thinks the scrutiny is fair.

“I’m about getting answers and being straight up with people,” Jamison said. “That we, as a town, put out as much information to taxpayers and citizens as we possibly can.”

She disagrees with Vaughn’s priorities for the town, which she thinks is finally getting back on solid financial ground.

The town has suffered through a tumultuous decade of changing town managers and police chiefs.

The two also disagree on solid waste disposal and single-stream sorting for recycled goods, but Jamison said her desire for accurate public information about Vaughn’s past is important in order for voters to make good decisions.

“I’m passionate about the town I live in and know there are people who don’t speak up, but they’re hurting,” she said, adding that she would like to see the financial footing in Paris continue to improve.

Vaughn said he wants the same thing. He also wants to see the tax rate become more attractive for potential businesses and new residents, and believes he’ll bring a fresh spark to a board that he feels “has become stagnant.”

Richardson and Andrews have also said the economic health of the town is their top priority.

Andrews supports Vaughn’s candidacy, saying, “He’s a thoughtful member of several town committees where he’s always been a positive and never a negative. That’s the Gary I know.”

Richardson doesn’t support Vaughn’s candidacy, but not because of his past. She takes issue with his stand on what the town needs to succeed, she said.

When asked about his past, she said she is not interested in discussing it, but does feel it’s best if voters have the facts.

According to Sun Journal archives and court records, Vaughn’s more recent convictions stem from separate incidents over a span of three months in 2000, including assaulting a man with a bar stool in March of that year and an eight-hour standoff with police officers in Peru on June 22, during which Vaughn fired five shots from his 9mm pistol before surrendering.

The Sun Journal ran criminal background checks on all four candidates for the open selectmen’s seats. Jamison, Andrews and Richardson have no criminal convictions.

Selectmen who are not up for election this cycle are Russell Brackett, Christopher Summers and Scott Buffington.

[email protected]

Gary Vaughn Sr.

Kathy Richardson John Andrews Janet Jamison

A Meet the Candidates forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 5, at the Town Office, 33 Market Square.


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