Buxton residents packing the Board of Selectmen meeting Oct. 16 were told that heard that the board’s chairwoman, Jean Harmon had resigned earlier that day. Robert Lowell/American Journal

BUXTON — The town clerk and selectmen will meet Wednesday to discuss a date for a municipal election to fill the remainder of former Selectboard Chairwoman Jean Harmon’s term, Town Clerk John Myers said Tuesday.

The three-year term expires in June 2020.

Harmon resigned from the five-member board Oct. 16 under public pressure. She was convicted Oct. 7 in York County Superior Court for disorderly conduct, a Class E misdemeanor, for slapping a town employee on Oct. 3 last year. Harmon pleaded no contest.

Selectmen voted 4-0 on Oct. 16 to accept Harmon’s resignation. The resignation item did not appear on the board’s printed agenda for the meeting.

Harmon’s brief resignation letter said, “I respectfully submit my resignation from the Buxton Board of Selectmen effective immediately. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Buxton for the last 17 years. It has been an honor and a privilege.”

Residents, many calling for Harmon’s ouster, had packed selectmen meetings on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16 with police present during both meetings. Selectmen came under public fire for inaction in allowing Harmon to continue sitting on the board following the slapping incident.

“There was total silence for a whole year,” a resident, Ellen DeCotiis, said.

Dennis Santolucito, vice chairman of the board, said the board was advised by “legal authorities” not to discuss the issue, and Selectman Mark Blier said the board did not have authority under the town charter to remove someone. “We had no avenue to take,” Blier said.

Buxton Selectman Mark Blier addresses residents on Oct.16. Blier said the board doesn’t have authority under the town charter to remove someone. Robert Lowell/American Journal

Resident Miriam Rubin criticized the board for electing a person under a cloud as its chairman. “It’s an insult,” she said.

But Joann Groder, director of Buxton Community Food Co-op, said Tuesday, “We’ve lost two of the best selectmen we’ve ever had” in a reference to Harmon and Cliff Emery, who didn’t seek re-election last  spring. 

Buxton Police Chief Troy Cline said at the meeting from the public podium that the public perception that the slapped employee, Solid Waste Manager Greg Heffernan, did not press charges is false. “Greg chose to pursue this,” Cline said.

“I got up there to clear the air,” the chief said after the meeting.

Cline said Heffernan went to Police Officer Warren Day about the matter and Cline also spoke with Heffernan that day. He said Heffernan indicated about two weeks later that he wanted to press charges.  “To avoid a conflict of interest, Cline said he asked Saco Police to investigate. A summons charging assault was issued to Harmon on Nov. 8.

The case went to court in June and a mistrial was declared in July when a jury failed to reach a verdict. A Class D assault charge was dismissed, according to a court document.

The court Oct. 7  fined Harmon, who pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge, $500 and assessed a $135 fee.

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