Oxford Selectboard chair resigns citing ‘not enough time’

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Selectmen Chairman Scott Owens, seated at left, listens to Town Manager Butch Asselin at the Thursday, Aug. 24 board meeting where he announced his resignation.

OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen have set a special election to fill the impending vacancy of outgoing Selectboard Chairman Scott Owens.

In a 4-0 vote, the board voted at a special selectmen’s meeting held Tuesday, Aug. 22, to hold the special election on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The approval also provided notice of a shortened nomination process, as required by state statute.

The special election will coincide with this year’s state election, but provide approximately 45 days, rather than the usual 75 days, for nomination papers to be acquired, signed and returned to the town clerk’s office.

The unexpected announcement of Owen’s resignation, which is effective Thursday, Sept. 21, and the board’s vote to accept it, came at the conclusion of a brief executive session to discuss an ambulance bill at the board’s regularly scheduled Thursday, Aug. 17 meeting.

The veteran selectman was re-elected to the board in 2016 and has two years left in his term. The special election will elect a selectman who will fill out the remainder of Owens’ term.

Nomination papers are now available for the opening of selectman/assessor. According to information from Town Clerk Beth Olsen’s office, papers need no less than 25 and not more than 100 of Oxford registered voters’ signatures. Papers are available at the Town Office and due back to the clerk’s office by Thursday, Sept. 21.

On Tuesday night the board also elected Pete Laverdiere as chairman after Owens requested that a chairman be appointed. Owens said there is only one more meeting left before he leaves the board and he would prefer to have a chairman in place now.

Current Vice Chairman Floyd Thayer, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting, was unanimously re-elected vice chairman.

Owens said after the Aug. 17 meeting that he decided to step down from the board at this time because he no longer had the time to devote to the work.

At that meeting, Butch Asselin was appointed and sworn in as the new town manager. He started his duties on Monday, Aug. 21.

Asselin, who was Houlton’s town manager, was the unanimous choice of the Board of Selectmen to lead this town forward after a secession of town managers during the last two years.

Interim Town Manager Becky Lippincott, who sat in as town manager for the last time before she resumed her duties as full-time finance clerk, was lauded for her work with the board at last week’s board meeting.

“Becky did an awesome job. We appreciate every day you’ve done,“ said Owens said to her.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net