AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Paul LePage is tapping the acting commissioner of Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to replace the commissioner who resigned last month after remarks he made offended rural residents, blacks and Native Americans, the governor’s office said Monday.
The announcement that LePage selected George Gervais of Hampden to the post comes less than a month after the resignation of Commissioner Philip Congdon.
Unlike Congdon, who spent his career in the private sector, Gervais has State House experience, having worked as the agency’s legislative liaison as well as serving as acting commissioner.
The nomination faces a legislative committee review and a Senate confirmation vote.
The post is an important one in LePage’s administration, which is focused on economic development and removing red tape and obstacles to job creation.
Before joining the Department of Economic and Community Development, Gervais served as senior loan officer at Carteret Mortgage Corp. and Dedicated Mortgage Associates LLC, according to a press release from LePage’s office. He also founded Grill Concepts Inc. and EVO Inc., according to the release.
Gervais earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Maine in Orono.
“The resources within the Department of Economic and Community Development are an asset to individuals and businesses throughout Maine, and George understands the positive role government can play in improving Maine’s economic growth,” LePage said.
“I am honored and humbled by Governor LePage’s confidence in me to lead the Department of Economic and Community Development,” Gervais said, according to the LePage press release. “DECD is committed to help job creators thrive and prosper, and it’s important for all of us to understand the challenges that face businesses. I look forward to working with the public and private sector with the common goal of creating opportunity for all Mainers.”
Congdon, an engineer by background, got into trouble after being quoted as saying affirmative action programs had contributed to a decline in higher education, that residents of northern Maine lacked parenting skills, and that northern residents needed to “get off the reservation” if they wanted to succeed.
After resigning under pressure from LePage, Congdon said he never made some of the alleged remarks and that other remarks had been misconstrued.