AUBURN — Isaiah Lary, who vigorously fought the implementation of mask mandates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and whose tenure was marked by frequent angry outbursts with his colleagues, has resigned his seat on the Androscoggin County Commission.

Androscoggin County Commissioner Isaiah Lary of Wales speaks at a January meeting in Auburn. He submitted his resignation letter Monday, effective immediately.

His resignation letter was submitted Monday and announced to the commission Tuesday.

The Republican represented Lisbon, Sabattus and his hometown of Wales. He was completing the first year of his second term on the commission and was unopposed both times he ran for office.

Often operating as a caucus of one, Lary rarely sought consensus with his colleagues for his proposals and often saw his motions defeated by a 6-1 vote. His colleagues on the board had at times called his conduct, “grandstanding.”

In his brief and terse resignation letter, Lary expressed his frustration with his fellow commissioners.

“This commission has violated the Constitution, charter and bylaws and stood by and even supported state tyranny,” he wrote. “There is so much you could have done to uphold your oath. If you request examples, just look at the numerous statements I have made as a commissioner on the videos.”

Advertisement

“Effective immediately, I am resigning from my position as a county commissioner,” he wrote.

Sally Christner of Turner, a fellow Republican and frequent target of Lary’s attacks, including an attempt to remove her as chairwoman in September, praised him as “a strong and passionate voice” for his constituents.

She noted his proposal this year to increase the annual death benefit by more than $7,000 for Dawn Rancourt, the widow of Deputy David Rancourt, who died in the line of duty in 2006. The yearly benefit had not been increased since it was established in 2007 and Christner said the commissioners had never considered giving his widow a cost-of-living increase.

But Lary could also be counted on to vote against nearly every motion before the board, especially spending bills. He voted against the county budget, opposed giving county money to Western Maine Transportation Services, a popular mass transit system in the region, and voted no on approving minutes, adopting the treasurer’s report and the approval of payroll and the county warrants that paid the bills.

Christner even quipped at Wednesday’s meeting that it had been a while since she could announce that a vote passed unanimously.

Lary became a lightning rod for the anti-mask movement after trying several times to pass anti-mask resolutions and policies, including calling one of his proposals a health freedom policy, but all were rejected by his colleagues.

Advertisement

Lary was incensed by Gov. Janet Mills’ executive orders for mandatory masks, social distancing and other measures that forced some businesses to close. Calling Mills’ actions unconstitutional, he urged commissioners to file suit with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to challenge her authority.

Like they often did, commissioners disagreed.

Lary’s anti-mask rhetoric launched a recall effort to remove him from the commission. Spokesman for the group, former Lewiston Democratic Chairman Kiernan Majerus-Collins, said at the time that “his attacks on basic science and public health are an embarrassment to Androscoggin County.”

That effort eventually fizzled.

Commissioners did like his resolution in June in support of the protesters in Cuba, which passed, 5-2.

County Administrator Larry Post said county Republicans have 30 days to find a replacement for Lary from his district of Lisbon, Sabattus and Wales.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.