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BANGOR – Gov. Angus King has been asked to appoint a new treasurer for Penobscot County.
Bangor Democrat Patricia Blanchette, who has served as county treasurer since 1994 and who also has served 12 years on the Bangor City Council, was elected last month to the Maine House of Representatives seat from District 119.
As a result, she must give up her county post.
Under state law, a sitting legislator cannot simultaneously hold the position of county treasurer, considered an “office of profit” as well as a potential conflict of interest, according to Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn of the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions.
Flynn said nothing prevented Blanchette from continuing to serve on the Bangor City Council, which the new legislator this week said she intends to do.
According to Flynn, Blanchette’s successor will be appointed by the governor. The appointee would serve until the next biennial election, set for November 2002, she said. The appointment would expire on Jan. 1 of the following year.
When the appointment will be made remained unclear Tuesday. Calls to the governor’s office made Tuesday were not returned. In a brief telephone interview Tuesday afternoon, Blanchette said her resignation was effective at midnight Tuesday. Blanchette, who was in Augusta for new legislator orientation, said she was required to relinquish her county post before being sworn in at 10 a.m. today.
Though the governor can appoint a county treasurer from any party, Blanchette said, appointments historically have been made from within the party of the county official being replaced, in this case, the Democratic party.
During a caucus Sunday, Blanchette said, members of the Penobscot County Democratic Committee endorsed Bangor City Councilor Gerry Palmer as their recommendation to the governor. Palmer could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Thomas Davis Jr., chairman of the Penobscot County Commissioners and a staunch Republican, said Tuesday that Blanchette was “a dedicated county official. Pat did a fine job.”
Blanchette said she was satisfied with her accomplishments as treasurer, chief among them exposing the county financial process to “open air.”
“I took it out of the Old Boys Club,” she said. Blanchette added that she was the first Penobscot County treasurer to attend the commissioners’ weekly meetings.