April 20, 2012

S. Portland librarian wins suit, allowed to run for school board

By Ann S. Kim akim@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — South Portland Board of Education member Karen Callaghan has won a lawsuit with the city over a personnel policy that bars municipal employees from running for the board.

Callaghan, a part-time librarian for the city, and Burt Edwards, sued the city in Cumberland County Superior Court last year.

In 2010, the city changed its personnel policy to prohibit municipal employees from running for the Board of Education. The ban previously applied to City Council seats.

Both plaintiffs were told that they could not run while holding their city jobs. City Manager James Gailey later told Callaghan she could run because her position could be grandfathered but that she would not be allowed to seek re-election. Edwards, a part-time recreational worker, did not pursue a run after being old about the prohibition.

Callaghan was reelected iin an uncontested election in 2011.

In a ruling this week, Justice Thomas Warren wrote that school board candidacies by municipal employees do not pose the same potential for disruption as could occur with city employees running for City Council. He noted that school board members have to supervisory authority over municipal employees while it's conceivable that city council members could try to enlist a city employee to engage in political activity on their behalf. 

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