Public Hearing - Charter Amendments for June 11, 2019 Ballot
To be held on April 2, 2019 - Question 4: Providing for All Councilors to be Nominated & Elected At Large
SHALL THE TOWN OF LISBON VOTE TO AMEND THE TOWN OF LISBON CHARTER, ARTICLE II, SECTIONS 2.01 AND 2.11, ARTICLE VII, SECTIONS 7.02, 7.03, 7.04 AND 7.06, AND ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 8.31, TO PROVIDE FOR ALL TOWN COUNCIL MEMBERS TO BE NOMINATED AND ELECTED AT LARGE?
Note: A copy of the proposed Charter Amendment is available for inspection and review in the Town Clerk’s office during regular business hours.
Sec. 2.01. - Composition, Eligibility, Election and Terms.
(a) Composition. There shall be a Town Council of seven (7) members. Each member of the Council shall be [strike] elected by the registered voters of the Town. Three members shall be [end strike] nominated and elected by the qualified voters of the Town at large [strike] and two Councilors shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of each of the two Voting Districts as provided for in Section 7.03. [end strike] Each Councilor shall also be a Sewer Commissioner.
(b) Eligibility. Only qualified voters of the Town who reside in the Town shall be eligible to be nominated, to be elected, and to hold the office of Councilor, and each Councilor shall be sworn in the manner hereinafter prescribed. [strike] District Councilors shall reside in the Voting District from which they are elected and they shall establish such residence no later than the earliest date on which nomination petitions for the office may be circulated. [end strike]
(c) Election, Terms. Councilors shall be elected to serve staggered three-year terms as provided for in Article X.
Sec. 2.11. - Vacancies; Forfeiture of Office; Filling of Vacancies.
(a) Vacancies. The office of Councilor shall become vacant upon a Councilor's nonacceptance, death, resignation, failure to qualify for the office within ten days after written demand of the Council, forfeiture of office, or failure of the municipality to elect a person to the office.
(b) Forfeiture of Office. A councilor may forfeit the office if the Councilor (1) lacks at any time during his or her term of office any qualifications for the office prescribed by this Charter or by law, (2) knowingly and willfully violates any express prohibition or other provision of this Charter, of the terms of their oath of office, the Town's Ethics Policy, or any other Town provision relating to the conduct of a Councilor, including violation of confidentiality requirements (3) is convicted of any crime or offense which is reasonably related to his or her ability to serve as councilor, (4) fails to attend three consecutive regular meetings of the Council without being excused by the Council, (5) malfeasance of office, (6) failure to carry out the duties of the office, or (7) misappropriation of funds.
In its review of a Council member, the Council shall have the authority to issue a public reprimand, to cause a reduction of elimination of salary, to suspend the member for a specific period of time, or to cause removal of a Council member which shall result in the seat being declared vacant. A Councilor charged with conduct constituting grounds for forfeiture of office shall be entitled to a public hearing on demand of that Councilor. Notice of such hearing shall be published in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the municipality at least one (1) week in advance of the hearing.
(c) Filling of Vacancies. If a seat on the Town Council becomes vacant more than six (6) months prior to the next regular Town election, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term by a special election. The Town Council shall follow the time frames for the availability, and filing of nomination petitions and the date of the special election in Section 7.02 of this Charter except that shorter time frames may be prescribed by Council where it can be assured that the time frames for circulating nomination petitions and for the Town Clerk to prepare ballots is adequate. If a seat on the Town Council becomes vacant within six (6) months prior to the next regular Town election, the Council shall appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy. [strike] If the vacancy is a seat of a District Councilor, the person elected or appointed to fill the vacancy shall be a resident of the applicable Voting District. Should a Councilor who is elected from a particular District change their residence from that District to another District within the Town of Lisbon, that Councilor shall be allowed to serve out that portion of their term until the next election during which Councilors are elected. At that time, the seat shall be declared vacant for the remainder of that Councilor's term and a new Councilor qualified from that District shall be elected to fulfill the remainder of the term. If by virtue of a change in District lines, a Councilor elected from a particular District, without having physically moved the Councilor's residence, is nevertheless located in a District other than that from which they were elected, they shall be permitted to serve out the remainder of the term but shall not be eligible for reelection as a Councilor from the original District. [end strike]
ARTICLE VII. - NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS
Sec. 7.02. - Nomination by Petition.
(a) Petitions . Candidates for Town Council, School Committee, and Water Commission shall be nominated by petition. Any qualified voter of the Town may be nominated for election as a Council member [strike] at large, [end strike] School Committee member, or Water Commissioner [strike] at large [end strike] by not less than 50 nor more than 75 qualified voters of the Town by signing a nomination petition. [strike] Any qualified voter may be nominated for election as a Council member from the district in which he or she resides by not less than 50 nor more than 75 qualified voters of the district by signing a nomination petition. [end strike] Nomination petitions shall be filed on forms provided by the Town Clerk. Each petition shall clearly indicate the office to which nomination is sought [strike] and, if for Town Council, whether the seat is at large or for a specified district. [end strike] No nomination petitions shall be issued by the Clerk more than forty (40) days prior to the earliest date upon which a completed petition could legally be accepted by the Clerk. The signatures on a nominating petition need not all be affixed to the same paper, but an affidavit which has been executed by the circulator shall be attached to each separate sheet of the petition. The circulator shall state in the affidavit the number of signatures on the paper, that each signature was affixed in the circulator's presence, and that the circulator believes it to be the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be. The petitioners shall sign their names in ink. Each signer shall indicate his or her street address next to his or her signature. The name and address of the signers and of the candidates do not have to be identical in form to the voting registration list as long as their identity can be clearly determined from the information provided. There is no limit on the number of petitions which may be signed by any one voter.
(b) Filing and Acceptance. All separate papers comprising a nominating petition shall be assembled and filed with the Town Clerk as a single document not earlier than one hundred (100) days nor later than sixty (60) days before the scheduled date of the election. If the 60th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, a day recognized by the State of Maine as a legal holiday, or a day that the Lisbon Town Office is closed for business, the final filing date shall be the next regular business day. The Council may, on the recommendation of the Town Clerk, set a shorter time for filing nomination petitions in the case of special elections but under no conditions shall the time for circulating nominating petitions be less than ten (10) days nor the last filing day be less than fourteen (14) days before the day of the election. The Clerk shall note the time and date when each nominating petition is filed. No petition shall be accepted unless accompanied by a signed acceptance of the nomination by the candidate.
(c) Certification of Validity. Within five (5) business days after the filing of a nominating petition, the Clerk shall notify the candidate and the petition circulator whether or not the petition satisfies the requirements of this Article. If a petition is found to be insufficient, the Clerk shall immediately return it to the person who filed it together with a statement as to why it is insufficient. Within the regular time for filing petitions such a petition may be amended and filed again. The Clerk shall keep on file each petition found to be valid at least until the expiration of that calendar year.
Sec. 7.03. - Voting [strike] Districts and [end strike]Places.
[strike] The Town shall be divided into two Council districts. Each district shall contain as nearly as practicable the same number of inhabitants. Each district shall be as compact as is reasonably practicable. At least once in every ten (10) years after the adoption of this Charter, the Council shall review the boundaries of the existing voting districts, and after public hearing thereon, shall by ordinance alter, change and establish the boundaries of each district so that each, as nearly as practicable, shall contain an equal number of voters. The lines of each voting district shall remain as established in this Charter until changed by ordinance. [end strike] The Council may, by ordinance, divide the town into wards for the purpose of establishing convenient voting places. The voting places established for municipal elections shall be the same as those established for state elections.
Sec. 7.04. - Names on Ballots.
(a) At Large Candidates. The full names and addresses of all candidates for Council member [strike] at large, [end strike] for School Committee, and for Water Commissioner, except any who has died, withdrawn, or become ineligible, shall be printed on the ballot without party designation under the heading "For Council Member [strike] at Large [end strike]", "For School Committee Member", or "For Water Commission." The name of any candidate as it appears on the ballot need not be identical with the list of registered voters as long as the identity of the candidate can be clearly determined.
[strike] (b) District Candidates. The full names of each Council member candidate by district except any who has died, withdrawn, or become ineligible, shall be printed on the ballot without party designation under the heading "For District Council Member." The name of the candidate as it appears on the ballot need not be identical with the list of registered voters as long as the identity of the candidate can be clearly determined. [end strike]
Sec. 7.06. - Determination of Election Results.
(a) Number of Votes. Each voter shall be entitled to vote for as many at large candidates as there are vacancies to be filled. [strike] A voter may vote only for a district Council member who resides in the district in which that voter resides. [end strike]
(b) Plurality. Elections shall be determined by plurality vote. In case of a tie, a run-off shall be held between the candidates having an equal number of votes. The run-off election shall be held no later than thirty (30) days after the tie is officially declared.
ARTICLE VIII. - INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, RECALL AND SPECIAL TOWN MEETING
Sec. 8.31. - [Generally.]
(a) Commencement of Proceedings; Recall Committee; Affidavit . Any five or more qualified voters may commence recall proceedings by filing with the Clerk an affidavit stating that they will constitute the recall committee and be responsible for circulating the recall petition and filing it in proper form, stating their names and street addresses, specifying the mailing address to which all notices to the committee are to be sent and setting out in full the name, address and office of the Town Councilor, School Committee Member, or Water Commissioner sought to be recalled and a statement detailing the reason or reasons therefor.
(1) Basis for Petition . The required statement detailing the reason or reasons for the recall as stated on the affidavit shall be directly related to the requirements, duties and obligations of the position for which the recall is sought. The reasons for removal shall constitute acts which are in and of themselves contrary to law or to a specific requirement or obligation of the office, the improper and/or unlawful execution of some action where the action itself is not unlawful or improper, or the failure to perform some action which is officially required as a requirement or obligation of the office.
(2) External Review . Within five (5) working days of being advised by the Town Clerk of the filing of a recall affidavit, the official who has been proposed to be recalled, may request the Town Council that the Town Council, by majority vote, shall appoint an independent third-party examiner who is not a property owner, business owner, taxpayer, or resident of the Town of Lisbon and who has experience in municipal matters and in mediation, arbitration or legal proceedings, to review the affidavit stating the reasons for recall, in order to determine the sufficiency of those reasons in accordance with the standards set forth in Subsection (1) above. This appointment shall occur at the next scheduled meeting of the Town Council or the Town Council may elect to call a special meeting to make the appointment. The examiner shall have full authority to conduct such investigation as is deemed appropriate to determine the sufficiency of the reasons stated in the recall affidavit. The examiner shall submit a written report to the Town Council and Town Clerk with copies to the official proposed for recall and the recall committee stating whether or not the petition meets the criteria and if it is determined that the criteria are not met, the petition will go no further and have no further effect. The written report shall be submitted within twenty-one (21) days of appointment unless another time is designated by Council. Any time frame for the submission of the report may be extended by Council.
(3) Appeal . If the officer or official being proposed for recall or the recall committee is aggrieved by the report and decision of the examiner, then each shall have the right to appeal the examiner's decision to the Lisbon Ethics Panel. The Ethics Panel shall have the authority to conduct an independent investigation, hold hearings, take evidence, or do whatever it deems to be necessary and appropriate to determine whether the decision of the examiner is correct. If the result of the appeal is that sufficient cause is found to move forward, then the Clerk shall issue the circulation petitions to the Recall Committee. If the Ethics Panel determines that there is no cause for recall, then the matter shall be ended and shall go forward no further.
(4) Issuance of Petitions . If there is no challenge to the recall affidavit or the independent examiner and/or the Ethics Panel find that there is sufficient reason to support the recall, then the Clerk shall promptly issue the appropriate petition blanks to the Recall Committee.
(5) Further Appeal . The determination by the independent examiner or the Ethics Panel may be appealed to the Superior Court, Androscoggin County. Such appeal shall not stay the time frames for the petition and subsequent proceedings under the provisions of this section unless ordered by the Court.
(1) Number of Signatures. Recall petitions must be signed by qualified voters of the Town at least equal in number to 15 percent of the total number of qualified voters who cast votes for Governor in the most recent gubernatorial election [strike] or, in the case of a recall of a Councilor elected from a district, signed by qualified voters of the district equal in number to at least 15 percent of the total number of qualified voters from that district who cast votes for Governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. [end strike]
(2) Form and Content. All papers of a petition shall be uniform in size and style and shall be assembled as one document for filing. Each signature shall be executed in ink and shall be followed by the street address of the person signing. Petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full name, address and office of the person sought to be recalled and a statement detailing the reason or reasons therefor.
(3) Affidavit of Circulator. Each paper of a petition shall have attached to it when filed an affidavit which has been executed by the circulator. The circulator shall state in the affidavit that the circulator personally circulated the paper, the number of signatures thereon, that each signature was affixed in the circulator's presence, that the circulator believes it to be the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be, and that each signer had an opportunity before signing to read the full name, address and office of the person sought to be recalled and the statement detailing the reason or reasons therefor. At any time prior to the issuance of the Clerk's certificate, a signer may have his or her name removed from the petition by filing a signed written request that this be done.
(4) Time for Filing Recall Petition. A recall petition must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of the petition blanks to the recall committee.
(c) Procedure after Filing.
(1) Certificate of Clerk; Amendment. Within 20 days after the circulated petition has been filed, the Clerk shall complete a certificate as to its sufficiency, specifying, if it is insufficient, why it is defective. The Clerk shall promptly send a copy of the certificate to the recall committee by mail. A petition certified as insufficient for lack of the required number of valid signatures may be amended once if the recall committee files a notice of intention to amend it with the Clerk within two days after receiving the copy of the Clerk's certificate and files a supplementary petition upon additional papers within ten days after receiving the copy of such certificate. Such supplementary petition shall comply with the requirements of subsections (b)(2) and (b)(3) of section 8.31. Within five days after it is filed, the Clerk shall complete a certificate as to the sufficiency of the petition as amended and promptly send a copy of such certificate to the recall committee by mail as in the case of an original petition. If a petition or amended petition is certified as sufficient, or if a petition or amended petition is certified as insufficient, and the recall committee does not elect to amend or request Council review under subsection (2) of this section within the time required, the Clerk shall promptly present the certificate to the Council and the certificate shall then be a final determination as to the sufficiency of the petition.
(2) Council Review. If a petition or amended petition has been certified as being insufficient, the recall committee may, within two days after receiving the copy of such certificate, file a request that it be reviewed by the Council. The Council shall review the certificate at its next meeting following the filing of such request and approve or disapprove it. The Council's determination shall then be a final determination as to the sufficiency of the petition.
(3) Public Hearing . Subsequent to Council's determination of sufficiency, the Council shall convene a public hearing in order to allow the members of the public to attend and have an opportunity to discuss the recall petition and the basis and criteria for the recall. If the matter has been referred to an independent examiner, then, if possible, the independent examiner will chair the public hearing. If no independent examiner has been appointed or is available, then the chair of the Town Council shall appoint another individual to chair the public hearing.
(4) Court Review; New Petition. A final determination as to the sufficiency of a petition shall be subject to court review. A final determination of insufficiency, even if sustained upon court review, shall not prejudice the filing of a new petition for the same purpose.
(d) Actions on Petitions. The Council shall, within 30 days following a final determination that the recall petition is sufficient, hold a municipal election for the purpose of submitting the question of recall to a vote of the qualified voters of the Town [strike] or, in the case of recall of a Council member elected from a district, the qualified voters of that district. [end strike] Pending the outcome of the election, the elected official who is the subject of the recall petition shall continue to exercise all of the privileges of his or her office. An official shall be recalled when a majority of those voting thereon shall have voted in the affirmative so long as the total number of votes cast for and against recall is at least equal to 30% of the total number of qualified voters who cast votes for Governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. Where the voters have recalled an official, the Council shall fill the vacancy thus created in accordance with the provisions of Section 2.11 of this Charter.
(e) Candidacy of Incumbent. An official who is recalled by the voters shall be allowed to seek re-election at the special election called for the purpose of filling the vacancy created by the recall by filing a notice with the Town Clerk that he or she wishes to have his or her name appear on the ballot. The request shall be filed no later than the fifteenth day preceding the election. The official shall not be required to circulate a nomination petition. Other qualified voters who seek to fill the vacancy created by the recall shall have until the fifteenth day preceding the election to file with the Town Clerk a petition as required by the Charter for a regular municipal election.
(f) Recall Ballot. The ballot for recall shall contain the following question: "Shall (name of person being subjected to recall) be recalled from the office of (name of office)?" Immediately below such question shall appear in the following order the words "yes" and "no" and to the left of each, a square in which the voter may indicate his or her vote.