Kennebunk Select Board Chair Blake Baldwin spoke to critics of a contract extension recently signed by the board with Town Manager Michael Pardue, who is also a candidate for the Maine Senate. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNK — When reviewing the extension of Town Manager Michael  Pardue’s contract with the knowledge he was planning to run for the Maine Senate, the Select Board considered a number of factors, board Chair Blake Baldwin said.

“We weighed the workload Mike will inevitably have to undertake if he is successful (in his Senate bid) with the loss we’d incur if we were to see him leave, and on balance, the decision we made is it was better to have Mike in that position and at least try and see if this arrangement works out,” said Baldwin, in part, at the Feb. 25 Select Board meeting.

Baldwin spoke at the end of meeting in response to allegations that Pardue, if elected, would be “double dipping,” by being  the town manager and a state senator, and of an alleged conflict of interest on the part of the Select Board – something Baldwin called “one of the cheapest political smears you can level at someone.”

Pardue is a Republican candidate for Senate District 34, which includes Kennebunk, Wells, Acton, Lebanon, North Berwick and part of Berwick. Kennebunk High School football coach Joe Rafferty, a retired KHS teacher, is the Democratic candidate for the open seat.

Pardue’s three-year contract extension, which begins July 1, was signed by the Select Board Jan. 7. Among other provisions, the contract notes Pardue is “encouraged and authorized to run,” for office. The contract provides for an operational plan if he is unavailable due to legislative service and notes that his legislative salary would constitute an offset against his town of Kennebunk salary.

John Costin, who started a petition that seeks Pardue’s resignation if he is elected to the senate, and Dan and Claudia Sayre spoke during the public comment session of the Feb. 25 meeting.


Costin’s petition, which had 128 signatures at mid-day on Monday, asks  the contract be rewritten to spell out that if elected,  Pardue would resign as town manager at the beginning of the 2021 Legislative term; that he return a pro-rated share of his $26,000 retirement contribution, and that he not let his senate campaign activities interfere with his responsibilities as town manager or with decisions he makes in that capacity.

Claudia Sayre said if Pardue is elected and remains town manager he will be double dipping by retaining his full town manager salary.

“I expect full-time work for full-time pay,” she said, and suggested other employees would have to work more under the arrangement.

She said the action benefits a select board member’s party in advancing a Republican for Senate 34.

“After all, the chair of the Kennebunk (Republican) Committee is a member of the (select) board,” she said, referring to Ed Karytko.

Costin spoke of the state conflict of interest statutes, the town charter, and Select Board code of ethics.


In a follow-up email, Costin called for the board to censure Karytko for not disclosing his affiliation with the town GOP committee when he voted on the Pardue contract.

“Once again, I am asking all Select Board members to disclose any potential conflicts of interest in regard to the latest Town Manager contract,” Costin wrote. “As I originally stated, I do not consider membership in or consistent voting with any political party to be a conflict. An active role in a party organization or Mr. Pardue’s campaign, financial or in-kind contributions to either (past or anticipated) would be. I am also calling on the Board to censure Mr. Karytko for failing to disclose his conflict of interest.”

“The Bible says you cannot serve two masters,” said Dan Sayre, First  Vice Chair of the Democrats of the Kennebunks and Arundel.  “What happens if there is a conflict with Wells or some of the other towns (in the senate district)?”

Baldwin said the allegation that by extending Pardue’s contract the board was creating a “no show” job, as Costin had expressed, was false.

“This does not meet the definition of a “no show” job, if anything, it is a lot more work for a show up job, for the same amount of money,” said Baldwin. “If he’s successful in the election, he’ll have to work a lot harder for the same amount of money.”

Baldwin said the board made the decision to reappoint Pardue based on performance. He noted  Costin wants the board to immediately replace Pardue if he is elected. He said the cost of a town manger search would range from $4,000 to $30,000, and that lost productivity can be expensive.


“Right now, he has a team, including us part-time and his staff, he has worked hard to coalesce into an efficient working group,” said Baldwin. He said there would be a loss of institutional awareness and an impact on town staff.

Blake said state statutes and Kennebunk’s charter are clear that conflict of interest refers to money; that no one on the board had any pecuniary interest in the issue and that Karytko had no conflict in his vote.

“Those who think the Select Board itself is being “unjustly enriched” by extending Pardue’s contract  should file an ethics complaint with the Maine Attorney General’s Office,” Baldwin said.

Select Board member Shiloh Schulte said the board is nonpartisan; that his own views are  not in line with the Republican party, and he had to set that aside as he considered Pardue’s contract.

“I’ve worked with Mike (Pardue) for 20 years in different capacities and found him to be extremely apolitical,” said Select Board Wayne Berry. “I’ve had to wonder, the last couple of weeks, how vocal this group would be if he had chosen to run as a Democrat.”

Pardue spoke briefly.

“I will be the first to know I cannot perform to a stellar level in both positions, and this board would be the second to know, and that is a pledge,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: