AUGUSTA — Two candidates vying to be the new district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties will soon go under the microscope after Evert Fowle was sworn in Friday as a new district court judge.

Fowle, 54, of Vassalboro, had been district attorney for both counties since 2002, when he was elected as a Democrat.

Under state law, Gov. Paul LePage will select the interim district attorney to serve until a permanent replacement can be elected during the fall election. The interim district attorney must be enrolled in the same party as the departing district attorney.

So, the Democratic committees for Kennebec and Somerset counties will vote on a recommendation next week, but LePage, who appointed Fowle as a judge, will have the final say.

Fowle has recommended that Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley, of West Gardiner, replace him. But there is also a second candidate, who on Friday asked not to be publicly identified, according to Rita Moran, chairwoman of the Kennebec County Democratic Committee.

“We are down to two, one of whom is Alan Kelley, and both are extremely qualified,” Moran said. “Both are very impressive candidates, in each their own right.”

A review committee consisting of party members from both counties will meet Sunday afternoon to review the candidates’ resumes and letters of support, Moran said.

Then, party committee members will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Waterville City Hall to question the two candidates and ultimately hold a ballot vote.

Under the format of the meeting, candidates will have a chance to speak and must directly answer every question that they’re asked by party committee members, Moran said. Someone will ultimately make a motion to recommend one of the candidates — or both of them, which is possible, Moran said.

“I expect a fair turnout,” said Colby Seams, chairman of the Somerset County Democratic Committee.

In November 2001, Kelley ran as a Republican against Fowle, and it was a cordial campaign that Fowle won. Kelley switched his party affiliation to Democrat several years ago.

Fowle was sworn in as a new district court judge Friday at the State House in front of about 15 people, including his mother, wife and three children, as well as LePage.

Fowle said he is scheduled to head to Portland on Monday for a presentation related to his new job. He’s been told that he will initially spend time as several district courts throughout the state and will ultimately be assigned to a particular court.

“I’m very pleased to have this exciting challenge,” Fowle said. “As much as I’ve enjoyed being district attorney, I’m looking forward to being a district court judge. It’s going to be a very different role for me, and I will do the very best I can to be a good judge for the people of Maine.”

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