Moderator apologizes for mistake at special Sangerville town meeting

Posted Dec. 24, 2012, at 1:37 p.m.
Paul Davis
Paul Davis

SANGERVILLE, Maine — Paul Davis apologized for making an error during the Oct. 25 special town meeting, but he didn’t believe it required any major changes in how he has handled the moderator’s position. Davis spoke during the public forum portion of the Dec. 11 selectmen’s meeting.

Davis explained his approach to the moderator’s position, which he had held since the early 1980s.

During his tenure, he’s had two goals in mind. One is to make those who want to comment on a particular issue to feel comfortable enough to do so. The second is make sure the participants don’t leave the meeting with ill feelings toward their neighbors.

Davis explained his approach to the moderator’s position in a response to some recent criticism of how the selectmen’s special election was handled during the Oct. 25 town meeting. After the first round of voting, Davis prematurely announced Melissa Randall as the winner. Randall had a plurality but lacked the necessary majority to claim victory.

Davis’ premature declaration resulted in some residents leaving, believing the selectmen’s race had been settled.

“I’ll take responsibility for my mistake,” said Davis. “I recognized it right away ,and I don’t believe anybody left as a result of the error. I spoke to other people who say if anybody left, they must have been on the dead run.”

Resident Regan McPhetres brought Davis’ use of Robert’s Rules of Order into question with a Nov. 13 letter to the selectmen, alleging that Davis improperly used the rules during the special town meeting. McPhetres believes if the proper procedures had been applied, the confusion during the selectmen’s special election would have been avoided.

Davis was surprised that his recent performance received criticism, saying that he’s used the same method ever since he’s started. He defended his past performance by stating that attendance and participation at the Sangerville town meetings were among the best in the area, and he believes his approach has made those feel welcome to take part during the discussions.

“That’s the way I’ve done it over the years and I don’t see a reason to change it,” Davis said. “I’ve spoken to Selectwoman Melissa Randall, who said I followed the correct procedure for 95 percent of the meeting. Both her and Tom Carone called me after the selectmen’s meeting to express their support for my efforts.”

Following his address, Davis received a round of applause from the residents who attended the board meeting. McPhetres also attended the meeting but didn’t respond to any of the points made by Davis.

During the Nov. 13 selectmen’s meeting, McPhetres said his concerns didn’t reflect upon the election of Randall, who ultimately won in the third round of voting. He said he rather wanted to correct any problems now before any potentially legally embarrassing situations arise in the future.

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