BREWER, Maine — The Penobscot County Republican Committee voted Thursday night to send the names of three local attorneys to Gov. Paul LePage as nominees to replace Penobscot County Probate Judge Allan Woodcock Jr.
Woodcock, 92, of Bangor resigned effective Jan. 1, 2013, after serving 50 years in the position.
The names of M. Ray Bradford Jr. of Bangor, Wayne P. Doane of Exeter and Marianne Lynch of Bangor will be forwarded to the governor, according to treasurer Harrison Clark of Brewer.
Penobscot County Republicans gathered Thursday at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer. They did not vote on each candidate but agreed to pass the names of all three who were seeking the position to LePage, Clark said.
Probate judges are the only elected judges in Maine. The probate courts handle adoptions, wills, guardianships, estates and name changes. To qualify to serve as a probate court judge, candidates must live in the county they are seeking to serve and be a lawyer in good standing with the Maine Overseers of the Bar.
In most Maine counties, including Penobscot, the position of probate judge is part-time but some benefits are included. The salary budgeted this year for a Penobscot County probate judge is about $38,000.
Under Maine law, the governor appoints a person to fill a vacant elected county officials’ seat but the appointee must be a member of the same party of the person he or she is replacing. That party’s county committee must send two names, but may send more, to the governor for consideration.
LePage is expected to act quickly to appoint someone to fill out the last two years of Woodcock’s four-year unexpired term but there is no deadline by which he must act.
Probate judges from other counties have been filling in for Woodcock, according to Susan M. Almy, register of probate for Penobscot County.
Woodcock was one of two Penobscot County officials to step aside at the end of 2012. Former Penobscot County Commissioner Stephen Stanley of Medway resigned in November after the Democrat was elected to the state House of Representatives.
Last week, the governor appointed Laura Sanborn of Alton to replace Stanley. She was sworn into office and participated Tuesday in her first commissioners’ meeting. Sanborn represents residents in the municipalities and Unorganized Territory of Penobscot County from Orono north to the Aroostook and Washington county lines.
Sanborn was appointed about a month after the Penobscot County Democratic Committee sent her name along with two others to the governor.