Buxton resident Miriam Rubin on Oct. 9 seeks Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Jean Harmon’s removal.

BUXTON — A public outcry to oust Selectmen Chairwoman Jean Harmon erupted at the board’s meeting last week, two days after Harmon was convicted of disorderly conduct for slapping a town employee last year.

Meanwhile, the employee, Solid Waste Manager Gregory Heffernan, said he has filed a complaint over the incident with the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Harmon pleaded no contest Oct. 7 in York County Superior Court, according to a court document, and was fined $500 and assessed a $135 fee for the Class E misdemeanor.

Part of a large turnout for the Buxton Board of Selectmen meeting on Oct. 9. Robert Lowell/American Journal

Clamoring for Harmon’s removal from the Board of Selectmen, Buxton residents Oct. 9 packed the board’s chambers, where the police chief and two uniformed police officers stood watch. Harmon, who looked directly at the speakers, and the other selectmen listened quietly as several residents sought her removal, many receiving applause for their comments.

Miriam Rubin, displaying a sign that read “No more Excuses, Jean must go now,” urged Harmon to resign. “We’re waiting for you to take the high road,” Rubin said.

Stephanie Keene also told the board Harmon needs to step down. “I’m not OK with her serving the town,” Keene said.

Harmon did not respond Wednesday to an American Journal telephone message asking for comment.

Harmon was summonsed for assault Nov. 8, 2018, after slapping Heffernan on Oct. 3, 2018. The two were having a disagreement about a town policy, Heffernen said. The case went to trial this June, but a mistrial was declared in July after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict. The assault charge was dismissed, according to a court document.

Harmon told police she gave Heffernan only a playful “Gibbs slap,” according to the Journal Tribune, a silly slap on the back of the head for a minor offense that originated on a TV series.

Jean Harmon and other selectmen are pictured as riled residents call for her ouster Oct. 9. Robert Lowell/American Journal

“Hell, no,” Heffernan said Wednesday about Harmon’s depiction of the slap.

Heffernan said he has informed selectmen about his complaint to the Maine Human Rights Commission.

“The Board of Selectmen has not taken any action relating to this incident,” Heffernan wrote in a letter. “Since this incident, I have been under extreme mental stress.”

The Selectmen’s agenda last week referenced six emails calling for Harmon to step down. “I’d like to hear them read,” a voice shouted from the crowd.

Harmon said the board had been advised by an attorney not to read them. She said the board’s secretary could provide copies to the public.

Resident Ellen DeCotiis, a member of the SAD 6 Board of Directors, pointed to the town charter that states a selectman forfeits the office if convicted of a crime or offense punishable by a “sentence of imprisonment for more than 30 days.”

Under Maine law, a Class E misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail. Harmon was not sentenced to jail.

But DeCotiss said Harmon was found guilty. She asked the Select Board when it would follow the charter.

Dennis Santolucito, the board vice chairman, said the board wouldn’t comment at that meeting and would ask an attorney for a clarification of the town charter. He said an attorney from the Portland law firm DrummondWoodsum would be assigned to the town.

“We do care, and we want to get it right,” Santolucito said.

Police Chief Troy Cline steps up Oct. 9 to keep the peace. Robert Lowell/American Journal

Former Selectman Cliff Emery said at the meeting that Harmon had apologized to Heffernan. “This woman has given you 15 years of her life,” he said.

The crowd shouted down Emery and Police Chief Troy Cline stepped forward. “We’re here to make sure everyone stays calm,” Cline said.

Discussion about whether Harmon would retain her seat on the Board of Selectmen was expected to continue at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, after the American Journal deadline. Rubin said in an email to the American Journal that residents have asked for a town attorney to attend the meeting.

“It’s going to be more explosive than last week,” said Heffernan, who watched a recording of the Oct. 9 meeting.

A video of the alleged slapping incident has been circulating on social media. Gene LaPointe, a 45-year Buxton resident, asked the board last week for it to be viewed on a screen in the selectmen’s chambers.

“The residents may try to show it,” Heffernan said about the Oct. 16 meeting.”There should be a big surprise at tonight’s meeting.”

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