Davis, Thomas pledge to work on county district dispute

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    GREENVILLE — State Rep. Paul Davis and Sen. Douglas Thomas met with a group of Greenville residents after the Fourth of July parade and said they would support legislation to remedy the dispute over the new Piscataquis County commissioners’ districts.

    While there were a few testy exchanges on both sides, the two Republican lawmakers said they would do everything possible to see if the new boundaries could be changed.
    But while several residents complained about being blindsided by the legislature’s action, Davis and Thomas both said that local officials had an obligation to keep tabs on legislation that affects county government. “I thought everyone knew about it,” Thomas said. “Nobody said a thing to me one way or the other.”
    Davis asked about specific complaints, and most echoed the concern voiced at the July 2 county commissioners’ meeting: Greenville, Milo and Brownville were placed in the same district under the new plan.
    The county’s population hasn’t changed significantly, Davis said, but has shifted somewhat. Each district will now have approximately 5,500 residents.
    Dave Hall, who hosted the meeting in his auto repair shop, said that people’s major problem is “how it was done. Commissioners from other counties were notified in advance. So this has the perception of back-room politics.”
    Retired educator Loren Ritchie, however, didn’t mince words. “The communication between here and Augusta sucks,” Ritchie said.
    Steve Mason urged Davis and Thomas to push for legislation that would realign the districts back to the three separate population areas. “That’s where the hub of activity is. I really think the county commissioners need to be involved. Put something together and let them (commissioners) know about it.”
    On July 5, Davis said that he filed a bill title with the Revisor of Statutes and will ask the Legislative Council to approve it as an emergency measure in the upcoming 2nd Session of the 126th Legislature.
    The Legislative Council consists of the party leaders in both chambers: President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Majority and Minority Floor Leaders and the Majority and Minority Assistant Floor Leaders for both the Senate and House of Representatives.
    But Davis, who served as Senate minority leader from 2002-06, said he didn’t anticipate any problem getting the council’s OK. “I’ve always worked with folks on both sides of the aisle,” Davis said.

Piscataquis County Distric copy

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