SKOWHEGAN — Barring a successful write-in candidate on Nov. 6, Laura Price will become the first Somerset County Register of Deeds since 2014 when Diane Godin, the newly elected register, walked off the job and didn’t come back. Price is running unopposed on the ballot for a four-year term of office.

Price, who was appointed deputy register in February 2000, has been acting register since December 2014, when Godin was placed on leave by Somerset County commissioners and Dawn DiBlasi, the county administrator, shortly after Godin was re-elected.

Because the issue was a personnel matter and confidential under Maine law, DiBlasi said she could not discuss why Godin was placed on leave.

But then-County Commissioner Robin Frost, of Palmyra, said at the time that the personnel issue was related to Godin “showing up for work … she hasn’t been coming at all for normal business hours.”

Frost said county commissioners had received complaints about Godin’s behavior from lawyers using the registry for their work and from members of the public using the registry for research.

“She was actually not just not fulfilling her responsibilities, she was actually breaking HR laws by being impossible, derogatory … there were many, many complaints from the general public about her behavior,” Frost said at the time.

Then, on Dec. 4, 2014, Godin prompted a police response when she locked herself in her office and refused to come out, creating a loud standoff with DiBlasi.

Godin had disagreed with a decision by county commissioners to prohibit her from the building, made less than a month after she was re-elected, over allegations that she was being rude and angering the public. Somerset County officials considered filing a criminal trespass complaint against Godin in connection with the Dec. 4 incident, but decided not to do so when she was talked out of the office by the Skowhegan police chief and agreed to leave the county courthouse building. The county changed all of its door locks following the incident.

Godin was scheduled to attend a closed door meeting Jan. 21, 2015, with county commissioners to renegotiate her contract, but did not show up, according to DiBlasi. She did not show up for subsequent meetings with county commissioners and never returned to work.

Price, who was the deputy register of deeds and ran against Godin in the November 2014 election, assumed Godin’s duties.

Godin defeated Price in countywide election in November 2014. Price has been deputy register since July 27, 2001.

The Registry of Deeds is responsible for recording and keeping track of papers that show evidence of land ownership, mortgages and liens on real estate and other property. Godin, herself a former deputy register, was appointed to the top post in 2001 after her predecessor, Marguerite Libby, retired in 2001. Godin was elected on her own the following year and defeated opponents to win new terms in 2006 and 2010.

DiBlasi last week said the county had consulted with its attorneys and were told they had acted properly in their dealings with Godin.

Again, citing confidentiality laws, DiBlasi said she could not discuss the matter, but said that Godin had left on her own and was not removed from her elected office.

“The commissioners had her scheduled to come in and speak with them, and she never showed up to negotiate her contract after she got elected,” DiBlasi said. “No contract was ever negotiated. We scheduled it three times and she never showed up.”

DiBlasi said Godin was barred from the county building “because of some bad behavior that went on with her,” but that Godin was not barred forever.

“She was only barred until she came in to speak with the commissioners. She never came in,” she said. “We followed the statute. The statute said that she had certain duties she had to do monthly and we were prepared to have her do those statutory duties, but she never came in to negotiate a contract.”

DiBlasi said county officials had acted properly, noting that Godin never pursued any civil court action against DiBlasi or the county commissioners.

Price, of Canaan, said she looks forward to filling the job finally as the Somerset County Register of Deeds if she is elected Nov. 6. She is unopposed on the ballot for a four-year term.

“I’m very happy to serve the people of Somerset County,” she said. “I’ve lived here all my life, and I hope to continue serving the people to the best of my abilities.”

Other seats up for re-election in Somerset County include:

• Dale P. Lancaster, of Cornville, unopposed for a second, four-year term as county sheriff.

• Tracey H. Rotondi, of Athens, unopposed for a four-year term as county treasurer.

• Incumbent District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, of Augusta, challenged in her re-election bid for a four-year term by attorney Kevin Sullivan of Gardiner.

• Somerset County Commissioner Newell B. Graf Jr., of Skowhegan, unopposed for a four-year term for the District 4 seat.

• Somerset County Commissioner Lloyd Trafton, of West Forks, unopposed for a four-year term for the District 5 seat.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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