Westbrook City Councilor Dorothy Aube brought in the swing vote on Monday night to narrowly override Mayor Bruce Chuluda’s veto of the council’s move to allow city employees to run for elected office.

Councilors John O’Hara and Ed Symbol both voted to sustain Chuluda’s veto, while Aube, who had previously voted against the policy change, switched her vote to join other Democratic councilors in defeating the mayor’s move. The override won by a single vote, 5-2. A motion to override a veto must have five votes in order to pass.

Aube said in an e-mail Tuesday morning that she changed her mind after thinking more about the fact that employees who win elected seats would have to resign their positions. “I felt this would really discourage employees from running,” she wrote.

On Sept. 10, the council voted 4-3 to change the city’s human resources policy that barred city employees from running for office. The debate originally surfaced when Councilor Michael Foley recommended the council look into the policy after then-deputy clerk Ruthie Noble had expressed interest in becoming the city clerk but was unable to run for election because she was a full-time city employee.

Noble then left the city for the clerk’s job in Cape Elizabeth.

“Westbrook’s loss is Cape Elizabeth’s gain,” O’Hara said upon her departure. O’Hara was opposed, however, to a change in the human resources policy.

The mayor exercised his veto power this week in hopes that the same three councilors – Aube, Symbol and O’Hara – would vote as they had on Sept. 10. With Aube’s change of vote, Chuluda’s veto was defeated.

The administration has been concerned that employees running for office could create an untenable, partisan atmosphere in city hall. The councilors in support of the change believe citizens should not be barred from running for office, and that the administration should be able to manage employees who run for office, and employees should not be expected to abuse their positions.

With the nomination period for this year’s November elections closed, the policy change will have no effect until the next election season in 2009.


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