PARIS — The Select Board has set Jan. 10 for a recall vote for two directors of Maine School Administrative District 17.

The vote on Julia Lester and Sarah Otterson will be held at the Town Office from 2 to 6 p.m. Absentee ballots will be available at the Town Office beginning Tuesday.

Petitions signed by 700 residents launched the recall process, which was sparked by Lester’s and Otterson’s support of a student gender identity policy being considered by the school board. The controversial issue has divided parents in the eight-town district.

According to opponents, the policy would allow the school to withhold information such as a student’s gender identity and preferences, such as changing their pronoun or name in school, from parents when the student requests it.

Proponents claim the policy would help protect children.

Selectmen voted to accept the petitions during an emergency board meeting last week.


Select Board Chairman Christopher Summers and Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox said the town followed the process spelled out in the recall ordinance. Knox said Lester and Otterson were notified within 48 hours after the petitions were accepted. Both directors have the right to request a public hearing, which must be filed by Dec. 8.

Several residents spoke on both sides of the issue during citizens’ comments before Summers ended the discussion.

“I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and ideas on this,” Summers said. “This was not something this board dreamt up. This is not something that we’re ever going to weigh in on other than one vote per member if and when we go to the polls.

“I understand both sides, the emotion, the thought process. I get it,” he said. “This is a tender subject. It’s raised voices on both sides of the aisle. No problem. But this is a Select Board. Our mission was clear. We followed it. We’ve done that, it’s done and now it’s up to the voters.”

In other business, the board approved the purchase of a Hyundai bucket loader from Whited in Auburn for $155,000. Noyes said the money has been raised and appropriated in the highway equipment account.

Police Chief Michael Dailey asked the board to purchase a new cruiser for the department’s new K-9 unit. He located a Dodge Charger at one dealership but could find no other appropriate vehicles in the state.


Dailey was asking for $45,000, about $33,000 for the vehicle and the rest for outfitting it. Money would come from the town’s allotment of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The dog will be used for search and rescue, drug sniffing and community relations. Dailey stressed that it will not be a “bite dog.”

Selectman Carlton Sprague motioned to allocate up to $40,000 for a vehicle, asking Dailey to expand his search outside of Maine to find an appropriate cruiser. If one cannot be located, the board would approve the purchase of the Charger.

Selectmen unanimously passed the motion.

The board also approved up to $15,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act for a GIS online mapping system to post the town’s tax maps on its website.

Because of the Christmas holiday, the Dec. 26 board meeting was moved to Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Noyes told the board that next year’s budget “looks scary.” Department heads are having a difficult time getting vendors to provide prices next year, she said. One piece of fire equipment that has cost the town $2,000 was now listed at $3,000, which was not guaranteed for next year.

“We’ll do our best to keep taxes at a minimum, but I can’t guarantee anything right now,” Noyes said.

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