Sometimes, you have to fight Town Hall before you can join Town Hall, and that’s just what Gorham’s Janet Kuech is doing.

Kuech has worked as an educational technician (teacher’s helper, for those who don’t speak educationese) for 18 years in the Gorham school system. In November, she was elected to the Gorham Town Council. But, because she’s an employee of the town, the Town Council isn’t allowing her to assume her rightful seat.

Councilors say she can’t represent the town and work for the town at the same time. They cite a town charter provision that says councilors “shall hold no office of emolument or profit under the Town Charter or Ordinances.”

So, Kuech, in response, is suing the town with legal help provided by the Maine Education Association. And the same voters who vote for Kuech will now have to pay to defend the defiant Town Council, which isn’t following the outcome of the voters’ wishes.

Interestingly enough, the town’s attorney is siding with Kuech on the matter, agreeing that she should take office.

At first glance, many will agree with the councilors. Who would want a town councilor, who votes on a school budget, to earn her living from that same budget? It’s a good point.

Worse, what if Kuech abuses her new position? What if she somehow convinced the rest of the council to double ed techs’ wages in the next budget? What if she used her position to meddle in her superiors’ affairs? What if she peddled influence by doing favors for her fellow school staffers? It could get messy if a former underling becomes an overlord.

While these scenarios probably wouldn’t happen, they could, and it’s understandable why councilors would hesitate to seat a town employee.

But there is one important concern to consider: the voters of Gorham wanted Kuech to represent them. The people spoke. And I assume they knew she worked for the school system when they filled in the oval next to her name. (If they read their local newspaper, the American Journal, they surely knew.)

The second most obvious point to be made in Kuech’s favor is, why was she allowed to run in the first place if there’s a rule against employees running for town office?

It seems the time for the council to take action was when she was a candidate, not a duly elected official. The council had its chance to withhold her name from the ballot and failed to do so. As President Trump says and President Obama before him said, elections have consequences.

The only conclusion to be made regarding this matter is that we’re witnessing a local example of a bigger problem plaguing government: out of control elected and unelected officials trying to overturn the will of the people. What does the Gorham Council think it is? The U.S. House of Representatives? They’re trying to get rid of Kuech even before she’s seated. At least Nancy Pelosi humored Trump for a few years before impeaching him.

Our president is fond of labeling the bureaucratic and legislative levels of government – at least bureaucrats and legislators who neither respect nor abide by the will of the voters – as swamp creatures.

As we’ve learned from the revelations dredged up in the impeachment proceedings, Trump is right to be worried about swamp-dwellers who don’t seem to understand that they must obey the will of the voters, not try to work around the results of an election.

It seems the same is happening in Gorham.

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