GORHAM — A Gorham town councilor wants residents to decide whether a drunken-driving conviction should force local elected officials to step down from their seats, now that a second sitting councilor has been charged with the crime.

Town Councilor Matthew Robinson made his intentions for a referendum public Tuesday at the first council meeting since Councilor Benjamin Hartwell was charged with drunken-driving.

In 2012, Councilor Suzanne Phillips was charged with drunken driving, to which she later pleaded guilty.

Robinson said he would sponsor an agenda item at a town council meeting in May to hold a referendum on whether to change the charter, so that drunken-driving constitutes a crime of moral turpitude.

The charter requires elected officials to vacate their posts if convicted of crimes of moral turpitude, but doesn’t define the term.

After Phillips’ conviction, the council decided, by vote, that drunken driving didn’t fit that definition.

“The council didn’t think certain items were moral turpitude,” Robinson said Tuesday. “I’ll be bringing that forward for the voters to decide.”

Robinson said Tuesday he would also ask the council in May to decide on a definition of moral turpitude and add it to the rules that regulate the council.

Robinson has said he intended to bring the matter to the council after Phillips’ conviction but hadn’t gotten around to it. The issue regained urgency in light of the charge against Hartwell.

 

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @lesliebridgers