Part-time worker OK'd as candidate

April 22, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The Manchester Board of Elections Supervisors approved Kathryn Riley as a Town Council candidate last night after opponent Chris D'Amario asked whether her part-time work for the town posed a conflict of interest.

The board, which also serves as the Manchester ethics commission, also approved the five other candidates last night.

Mrs. Riley has been working part time on paperwork related to the expansion of the Manchester sewer system to finish work the town began when she was clerk-treasurer. She held that office when the sewer expansion program began in 1989.

In an opinion written yesterday, Town Attorney Charles O. Fisher Jr. said someone holding the clerk-treasurer's office could run for town council but would have to resign that position if elected.

Mrs. Riley said yesterday that Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. and the Town Council asked her to stay on part time to complete the project's paperwork when she left office.

Mrs. Riley said she has not taken any money for about 30 hours she has spent on the work so far this year.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a volunteer affair," she said. "If it's going to keep me from running for council, I'll stop" the sewer project work.

Town Manager Terry Short said Mrs. Riley has not been paid since January.

"She's working an hour or an hour and a half a week," Mr. Short said. "It's not very much."

Mr. D'Amario, a forensic chemist at the state police crime lab, was required by his employer to get a legal opinion on whether his council bid would pose a potential conflict of interest with his work. Assistant Attorney General Mark H. Bowen, in an April 13 memo to the director of the crime lab, said Mr. D'Amario had no conflict of interest.

Mr. Bowen's memo said state law prevents a person holding more than one "office of profit" at the same time. An office of profit, the memo said, is an office created by law that calls for the continuing exercise of some part of state authority.

He said that, although Town Council membership would constitute an office of profit, Mr. D'Amario's civilian work in the state police crime lab does not.

Another council candidate, Robin Yingling, was cleared to run for the Manchester office by his employer, the State Highway Administration, Mr. Short said last night.

Candidate Douglas Myers, who works for Frederick County, said last night his employer did not require such clearance.

Asked yesterday if the office-for-profit rule presents a potential problem for Manchester Councilman John A. Riley, who also is town manager in Hampstead, Mr. Fisher said that question has not been addressed.

Marianne Warehime, chairwoman of the town's election board, said last night she could not comment "at this time" on whether the ethics commission has been asked to consider that question.

John O'Donnell, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, said it is up to Manchester's ethics commission, using the town's ethics code, to decide whether a problem exists.

Mr. Short also said last night that Mr. Fisher "needs to look further at the town code of ethics" to see whether it is similar enough to the state code to meet state requirements.

Mr. O'Donnell said the Manchester ethics code was approved in October 1984 as meeting state requirements.

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