Two of the three employees of Pittston’s town office, seen Wednesday, have resigned. Meanwhile, an effort to remove a selectman from office has stalled because of a dispute over who the recall petition is addressed to. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

PITTSTON — An effort to recall Pittston selectman Joe Caputo was delayed Wednesday night after the town clerk could not confirm who to present the petition to.  

Deb Barry, the clerk, certified that the petition had enough signatures for the Select Board to call for a special election, but one official took issue with the document being addressed to the full board.

According to the town’s ordinance on recalling municipal officers, the petition must be addressed to “those members of the Select Board having no interest in the subject matter of the petition.”

Of the three-person Select Board, one is the official the petition seeks to remove and another, Jean Ambrose, signed the petition as a citizen.

“I certainly feel like Joe (Caputo) has a big deal of interest in this petition, as does Jean as a signer of the petition,” said the third Select Board member, Jane Hubert, at Wednesday’s meeting. “Can you confirm we have no interest?” she asked Barry, the town clerk.

Barry could not confirm or deny that and said she would seek legal advice.  


Ambrose’s sister, Cheryl Peaslee, started the petition in November. Peaslee turned in the petition on Dec. 21 after collecting the mandated amount of signatures — 10% of the town’s gubernatorial turnout, which equals 153 signatures from Pittston voters. Barry then certified it.

Once the issue of who to address the document to is resolved, the selectmen have 10 days to order a secret ballot election to be held within the next three months. Because the town’s regular elections are held annually in March, and the next opportunity for the board to review the petition is Jan. 3, the recall could be on the March ballot.

Peaslee said she wants to remove Caputo from office because she feels a “change in the atmosphere” from the “friendly” town her family has “called home for five generations.”

Caputo rebutted those remarks publicly for the first time Wednesday at the beginning of the Select Board meeting, saying that “despite a small group of people against me, I continue to do what’s best for Pittston.

I am an independent thinker and did research on what needs to be done for the town, and the facts lead me to make decisions that do not fit the small groups’ wishes,” Caputo said, pointing out several examples, like having an engineering firm look at botched repairs to Jewett Road.

Joe Caputo holds up a card to vote March 18 during the annual Pittston Town Meeting in the Pittston Consolidated School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Caputo said that Peaslee and Ambrose were going “door-to-door and spreading lies” about him and that “anyone who does not fall in their agenda is a target for recall.


“I believe an alliance has formed and has been operating for years with one purpose in mind,” he added. “What is their goal? They want to control Pittston, including limiting the competition for public works and who gets bid for road work and who works in the town office.”

To that end, two of Pittston’s three town office workers recently announced they are stepping down, effective Friday.

Barry announced she would stop working for Pittston in November, and Administrative Assistant Deb MacInnes followed suit last week. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, the remaining employee, Treasurer Christian Jenson, was sworn in as a temporary town clerk.

Randolph’s Town Clerk, Jessica Soucy, will fill in as deputy town clerk for $37 an hour, 14 hours a week to help Jensen.

One concerned resident asked if Soucy’s pay is more than what Barry or MacInnes got, but Jensen said the town is “saving money” with this plan because it is not paying for Soucy’s health insurance or contributing to her retirement savings and she is working fewer hours.

A Freedom of Access Act Request filed by the newspaper for the resignation letters of Barry and MacInnes has not yet been returned.

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