September 19, 2019

New Penobscot County treasurer sworn in

BANGOR – Gerry Palmer, a Bangor city councilor, was sworn in Wednesday as Penobscot County’s new treasurer during a brief ceremony at the county courthouse.

Palmer, who was appointed by Gov. Angus King to the post vacated this month by Patricia Blanchette, was sworn into office by Brenda Downing, dedimus justice and deputy treasurer.

Salary for the position is approximately $7,000, not including insurance.

On hand for the 3 p.m. ceremony were two of Palmer’s four children, 11-year-old Casey Clark and Stephanie Williams, 16; Bangor Community Information and Marketing Coordinator Joanne Gula, who photographed the event; County Commissioner Peter Baldacci; and Joe Dauphinee, a friend and county employee.

The need to appoint a new treasurer arose last month after Blanchette, the Bangor Democrat who had served as treasurer since 1994 and who currently holds a position on the Bangor City Council, was elected to the Maine House of Representatives seat from District 119.

As a result, Blanchette was required to give up her county post. Her resignation was effective at midnight Dec. 6. She was sworn in as a legislator the following morning.

Under state law, a sitting legislator cannot hold simultaneously the position of county treasurer, considered an “office of profit” as well as a potential conflict of interest, said Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn of the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions earlier this month.

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, Palmer’s appointment expires Jan. 1, 2003.

Palmer said he looked forward to his new duties and hoped to continue Blanchette’s tradition of being a liaison between the county and its biggest city, Bangor. Some future projects for which Palmer expects his dual political roles to dovetail are the county’s work to replace its District Court in Bangor and the city’s effort to find a way to replace its auditorium and civic center.

Though the governor could have appointed a county treasurer from any party, appointments historically have been made from within the party of the county official being replaced, in this case, the Democratic party.

During a Dec. 3 caucus, members of the Penobscot County Democratic Committee endorsed Palmer as their recommendation to the governor. Two other candidates were nominated later in the month, upon King’s request.

King’s spokesman, John Ripley, said the governor typically requests at least three candidates when filling an appointed post. The names of the two other county Democrats nominated for the treasurer post remained confidential Wednesday.

Members of the Penobscot County Republican Committee also nominated a candidate. Lois Bloomer of Hermon confirmed earlier this month that she was that nominee.

Currently chairman of the county committee, Bloomer this month also was elected vice chairman of the state Republican committee.

Bloomer, who ran for the post in 1990, said earlier that she was interested in serving as the county treasurer because of her professional background in bookkeeping.

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