BANGOR, Maine — Twenty-two members of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce have signed a petition requesting a special Chamber meeting next week to discuss Wednesday’s dismissal of longtime president and CEO Candy Guerette.
John Diamond, chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors, said Thursday that he has received the petition and that the board will honor the request as allowed under its bylaws.
A special meeting has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 10, at the Bangor Public Library. It’s unclear whether the full Chamber membership can or will reverse the decision to not renew Guerette’s contract.
Irvine Marsters, owner of the Bangor Letter Shop, said he was one of the petition’s signers.
“A lot of people in the business community are surprised and shocked by the actions of the board and the methods that were used,” he said. “Of course, there is a lot of speculation about what happened.”
The Chamber announced in a statement to its members on Wednesday that Karen Cole was appointed acting president, ending a 13-year tenure by Guerette. Cole joined the Chamber as communications and marketing manager just two months ago.
Diamond offered no explanation of the seemingly abrupt decision.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss personnel matters,” he said. “But I can say that, in any situation involving an action of the board, we have a very solid and concrete set of actions and policies we follow to ensure the decisions are appropriate.”
Reached at her home on Thursday, Guerette declined to comment on her dismissal, but Marsters didn’t mind defending her.
“I don’t have a side in this, but my feeling is that after 13 years of service, she was at least entitled to a hearing,” said Marsters, whose company has been a Chamber member since it opened in 1980.
Guerette was appointed as head of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce in 1996 and has overseen the Chamber’s membership, which now numbers more than 800 businesses in 21 communities. Before her tenure with the Chamber, the Millinocket native and University of Maine graduate was the town manager of Orrington for six years.
According to Diamond, the decision not to renew Guerette’s contract, which expired July 1, came from the Chamber board’s executive committee. That committee, made up of seven voting members, makes decisions when the full board is not in session.
Diamond also indicated that a plan to recruit and identify a new Chamber president will be presented at the next board meeting on July 9, one day before the special meeting.