Gov. Paul LePage has reversed his earlier position regarding the vacant Kennebec County sheriff position by appointing the man currently filling the post on an interim basis — Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon.
In February, after the Kennebec County Democratic Committee recommended only Reardon to fill the position, LePage rejected that suggestion and instead appointed Lincoln County Chief Deputy Ken Mason to the position. Among LePage’s reasons for bucking the committee was his interpretation that they were supposed to present a list of nominees, not just a single name.
Mason declined LePage’s appointment and filed as an independent to run for the office in November. The sheriff’s position has been vacant since the former sheriff, Randall Liberty, took the warden’s job at the Maine State Prison in September 2015.
Because Liberty is a Democrat, his party’s county committee had the responsibility to recommend a candidate to serve as interim sheriff.
On Wednesday, LePage appointed Reardon, effective March 23.
“Unfortunately, this appointment was significantly delayed when the Kennebec County Democrat Committee decided in October to send me only one recommendation for this position,” wrote LePage in a letter to Reardon. “A ‘list’ of one name essentially usurps my constitutional power to appoint sheriffs and confers this power onto the committee.”
LePage wrote that he never had a problem with Reardon personally.
“Please understand that my issue was never with you or your fitness to serve in this capacity. … I apologize that [the Kennebec County Democratic Committee’s] political gamesmanship placed you in this difficult position, but I wish you luck in this role.”
Reardon has filed as a Democrat to run for sheriff in November’s general election.
Reardon will serve as interim sheriff until at least November, depending on the outcome of the election that right now appears to pit him against Mason. No Republican filed to run for the open four-year term as Kennebec County sheriff.
Reardon said in a written statement Wednesday that he looks forward to working with the governor, especially in efforts to stem drug addiction.
“I am pleased with his decision and grateful for this to be behind all of us,” said Reardon. “I am looking forward to the stability this appointment gives my employees and eases any of their immediate concerns. I realized that this appointment is temporary and I am looking forward to the election in November.”