PITTSTON — Residents will elect a new select board member and have the option of booting another out of office at Wednesday’s special election.

Four candidates are running to fill the seat that was held by former Selectman Tim Marks, who resigned in the wake of public backlash over the board’s decision to fire the longtime town clerk.

Residents also will vote on whether to recall Ted Sparrow Jr., the final selectman remaining from the three-person board that chose to not reappoint former Town Clerk Ann Chadwick in early March.

Polls will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the town office.

The cost of the municipal turmoil hasn’t been cheap. Selectmen racked up $9,000 in legal fees in February and March as a result of the personnel matter and recall effort.

Wednesday’s election could cost about $500 for ballots, clerks and supplies, according to Rose Webster, town clerk, treasurer and tax collector. In addition, the town also will have to pay for another special town meeting in late spring to revisit issues from March’s annual Town Meeting, which cost the town about $530, according to Webster.

The town is unable to pay the outstanding legal bill without voting to restore the funding because residents rejected the $9,000 request for legal fees at the annual meeting.

Selectwoman Jane Hubert said she alerted the law firm Bernstein Shur of the predicament, and they’ve agreed to lower the legal bill by 10 percent. The select board had permission to spend only $3,000 on legal fees before the town meeting.

Stanley Byrne, Mary Jean Ambrose, Daniel B. Myshrall Jr. and John S. Martin are running to serve the remaining two years of the board term formerly held by Marks, who is also a state representative for the area.

Byrne lost to Hubert in the regularly scheduled town election held in March, and Hubert defeated the incumbent, Wanda Burns-Macomber, by a landslide vote.

“I had a lot of encouragement to run again,” Byrne said.

He said the board could use his 12 years of past experience as a Pittston selectman when working on town budgets.

Ambrose said she has no experience on town committees or boards, but her parents and grandparents were involved in the past.

“I thought it was just about time I took a turn,” Ambrose said.

She said she thinks it’s important for more people to pay attention to what’s happening in the town.

“I care about what happens in town, that things are done fairly and in the right way and with respect for people,” Ambrose said.

She said she would like the bidding process for the paving and plowing contracts to be more transparent, so everyone knows why each contractor was chosen.

Myshrall previously lost in the three-way race that Marks won two years ago. Myshrall thinks selectmen need to do a better job of communicating with constituents to learn about their opinions.

Myshrall said he’s in favor of using online tools and social media to keep residents updated about town issues.

“The main reason I’m running is I feel as though I owe it to the town to do it,” he said. “I’ve lived here all my life, been the recipient of having a good life here, and I don’t want to see that spoiled.”

Martin, who used to head the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement and Licensing, said he wants a chance to help the town and provide a new perspective on the board. He said he thinks there are places to save money in the budget.

Martin also said he is unhappy with the way the select board members handled Chadwick’s dismissal.

“I think that’s a sad thing that had to happen to someone that served us for so many years and had done such a good job over those years,” he said.

If voters recall Sparrow on Wednesday, the town will have to hold another election to fill the seat. Webster said officials hope to be able to vote for the potentially empty seat at the June school election.

Sparrow hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment.

Tracy Johnson, a leader of the recall effort and Chadwick’s niece, said the organizers have been reminding people about the special election and reason for the recall.

“In my personal opinion, the remaining board member (Sparrow) is counting on the fact that it’s been a month, about a month-and-a-half, since all this happened,” Johnson said.

Johnson is still in favor of recalling Sparrow because she feels all board members were in agreement with firing Chadwick.

Residents submitted petitions last month with triple the amount of signatures needed to trigger a recall election for the three select board members, following their decision to not reappoint Chadwick. The town clerk refused to resign at a meeting March 6 after agreeing to retire.

Chadwick had held the job for more than 20 years, but selectmen said she had failed to address concerns about poor job performance.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]