Island selectman cites health, charges in giving up chief post

Posted Dec. 01, 2008, at 8:58 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:54 a.m.

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Selectman Jeff Smith, citing medical and legal issues, temporarily has relinquished the position of board chairman but will continue to serve as a selectman.

Smith, 59, said Monday that doctors believe he had a stroke around the time he was arrested Nov. 2 on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. He said he could not say whether alcohol might have played a role in his car becoming stuck in a ditch on Indian Point Road.

“I can’t answer that,” Smith said. “I have very, very little recall of that afternoon or evening.”

Smith was arrested by local police after they found his car in the ditch around 2 a.m., police have said. The car was unoccupied, but Smith was found a short time later with minor injuries walking down Indian Point Road.

Smith said he approached his fellow selectmen a week ago and met with them in executive session to discuss the issue about his position as board chairman.

“I probably shouldn’t be the chief spokesman,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to embarrass the town if I could avoid it.”

Smith said he is on medication while doctors try to sort out his medical issues. An adverse reaction to medicine he was taking has led him to miss one meeting since Nov. 2, he said, but that complication seems to have been resolved. Other questions remain, however.

“It looks like [the stroke] happened that afternoon before the incident,” Smith said. “No one knows for sure. We’re trying to put the whole thing together.”

Smith is expected to appear Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009, in Ellsworth District Court on the OUI charge.

Town officials said that Patrick Smallidge, the board’s vice-chairman, is expected to fill Smith’s chairman role for at least the next several weeks.

Smallidge said Monday that Smith has a good temperament to be chairman and that the board hopes he can resolve his personal issues in a timely fashion.

“I’ve always been pleased to serve with Jeff,” Smallidge said. “He’s been the voice of diplomacy.”

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