FARMINGTON — Two private practice attorneys are squaring off in the race to replace longtime Franklin County Probate Judge Richard Morton, who is retiring after 35 years serving the county.

Ron Aseltine, an independent, and Margot Joly, a Democrat, seek the judge’s seat, a position that oversees specialized subject matter, such as estates and trusts, adoptions and name changes, guardianship and protective proceedings.

The elected position is for a four-year term.

It is currently budgeted for a salary of $32,000 in fiscal year 2019 with part-time hours to be set by the judge.

Aseltine, 62, is a general practice attorney with offices in Wilton and Livermore Falls. Originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, he attended the University of Maine and George Washington University School of Law and worked as an attorney for insurance companies in Massachusetts for 10 years before returning to Maine and settling in Franklin County in 1990.

Since then, Aseltine said he has handled over 400 probate matters, including wills; guardianships; conservatorships, which is an appointment of someone to legally manage the financial affairs or daily life of another person due to physical or mental limitations; and adoptions. He has also served as a guardian ad litem in over 225 cases.

Aseltine said he has experience in the type of work required of a probate judge, including estate planning, which was something he focused on while earning his master’s in taxation at Boston University.

“I always thought of being a probate judge, particularly in Franklin County, as a way to give back to my community,” Aseltine said. “I really think serving others is a great calling. The people of Franklin County have been very supportive of me and I would like to give back. I think I have the knowledge, experience and temperament to be a good judge of probate.”

Joly, 58, works at Joly & Associates, a private practice she took over from attorney Charles LaVerdiere after joining his firm in 1999. Originally from Smithfield, she graduated from the University of Maine and University of Maine School of Law before working at a small law firm in Freeport.

She then served as an assistant attorney general for about two years from 1988 to 1989 before moving to Franklin County to serve as an assistant district attorney under Janet Mills, who was the Franklin County district attorney at the time.

In 1999, Joly joined LaVerdiere’s practice in Wilton and took over as senior lawyer in 2003. She also oversaw the opening of a second office in Rangeley and said that since entering private practice she has handled more than 400 probate cases.

“I’ve been practicing law for 30 years and have done everything it seems, from prosecution to defense, criminal defense, civil litigation, family law, real estate and probate,” Joly said. “I think this is a nice supplement to my history representing folks in Franklin County. I think I have the experience, temperament and common sense to preside over those very important cases that are presented to the probate court.”

The probate judge is one of three contested races in Franklin County government, including the races for district attorney and county treasurer.

In uncontested races, Susan Black, the incumbent register of deeds, and Clyde Barker, the incumbent county commissioner for District 3, are also running for re-election.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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