PARIS — The Board of Selectmen heard Monday from 20 people on both sides of a resolution seeking to have the Legislature exempt people with disabilities from the governor’s executive order mandating masks and face coverings.

The board unanimously supported the resolution by a 5-0 vote last week.

Selectman Peter Kilgore made a passionate appeal to residents who complained that the board made the decision without consulting the public.

“Get involved,” he said.

“For the past week, I’ve heard comments on my telephone and on my email that this board doesn’t listen to the residents of South Paris,” Kilgore said. “Well, where are the residents of South Paris to give us our input?”

Kilgore correctly pointed out that only three people attended the last board meeting when the resolution was proposed and passed — with two of them being town officials.

“We did not have any input from the public, so we went ahead and did our job because the public does not want to get involved,” he added.

The document, called the Americans with Disabilities Act Preservation Resolution, resolves to “serve as a notice and demand to the state government to cease and desist any and all activities, acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations in violation of the Constitution of the United States and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

It also calls on the board to urge the Legislature to support immediate nullification of the governor’s Executive Order 19 FY 20-21, which mandates face coverings be worn, and does not allow for an exception for individuals with disabilities.

Before public comments began, Chairman Rusty Brackett read a statement explaining exactly what the board passed at its last meeting. He complained about the media’s use of the word “unmasking” and said “the town being anti-mask is not correct.”

“The resolution is asking for the select board’s support in taking this resolution to the Maine Legislature and asking them to overturn that one section of the executive order,” Brackett said. “Nobody said on this board that you did not have to wear a mask in Paris anymore.”

“We did not vote for people in Paris not to have to wear a mask,” he continued. “That is the governor’s mandate.”

Several residents were in attendance Monday night. Aranka Matolcsy, representing the Paris Taxpayer Coalition, spoke against how the resolution was adopted without any discussion considering consequences to the town, small businesses and its residents. Matolscy, the mother of a child with Down syndrome, said she felt the resolution was exploiting people with disabilities.

She urged the board to bring the matter to a special town meeting for a vote.

“We hope you will restore the trust of your entire constituency,” she said.

A few others thought a special town meeting was warranted and the agenda, which is published the Friday prior to the meeting, should be clearer on the topics being discussed.

A few residents and some from other communities — as far away as Winslow, Sanford and Hampden — spoke in favor of the selectmen’s support and described why they or family members cannot wear masks due to a disability.

No one from Disability Rights Maine attended the meeting, but that group supports the governor’s mandate to wear masks.

“We know that the vast majority of Maine people with disabilities wear face coverings when in the community because it is safer and it is smart,” Kim Moody, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “And we want others to do the same, because many of us have compromised immune systems or are otherwise in high-risk categories.”

“We reject recent attempts to misappropriate our identities and misuse important and hard-fought civil rights protections as a form of misguided civil disobedience,” she added.

The select board took no further action on the resolution.

In other business, Town Manager Dawn Noyes said the town has a company to provide mowing services to town parks, cemeteries and town properties. The board awarded the contract to Northeast Property Maintenance of Waterford for $13,800 from May to October. She said this will save the town money for labor and equipment.

She added that the annual Town Meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 21, at the Fire Station on Western Avenue.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: