GORHAM — The Town Council wants voters to decide in November if councilors convicted of certain crimes while in office, including drunken driving, should have to vacate their seats.

The outcome of the referendum would not affect the two councilors who were charged with operating under the influence in the past couple of years – cases that twice sparked a debate among councilors about the definition of “moral turpitude,” the current standard for the type of crimes that would force their removal from office.

On Tuesday night, the Town Council voted 4-3 to hold a public hearing in September on whether to ask voters on Nov. 4 if they want to amend the town’s charter to say crimes of moral turpitude “shall include conviction or entry of a guilty plea or no contest plea of murder or a Class A, B, C or D crime, while in office, or conviction of a similar crime if outside the State of Maine.”

Councilors Bruce Roullard, Michael Phinney, Sherrie Benner and Matthew Robinson voted in favor of holding the referendum. Councilors Shonn Moulton, Suzanne Phillips and Benjamin Hartwell were opposed.

Phillips was convicted of operating under the influence in 2012, after sideswiping two parked cars on School Street and driving away. At that time, the council decided that the crime did not meet the definition of moral turpitude.

The council decided to revisit the issue after Hartwell was charged with operating under the influence in March. Hartwell, who police said crashed his car into a tree on Fort Hill Road, pleaded not guilty in May. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 29.

“I have an issue with constantly adding more regulations to our lives,” Ken Curtis, a resident of South Street, said at the meeting.

If voters don’t like a councilor’s behavior, he said, it will show at the next election.

Phinney, the council chairman, said he feels it’s important to provide a definition of moral turpitude so councilors can’t use the looseness of the term to push out a councilor whom others don’t like.

“I’m just concerned about the capricious nature of the councils,” he said.

Councilors Robinson and Benner said they’ve heard from a lot of constituents who are concerned about councilors’ behavior.

“I don’t think the voters of Gorham voted for us to break the law,” Robinson said.

The council on Tuesday also voted to establish a process for voters to recall councilors for a broader range of reasons, including failing “to appropriately carry out the duties and responsibilities of the office” or “engaging in conduct which displays an unfitness to hold office.”

To hold a recall election, a petition needs to be signed by 25 percent of the number of residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election. A vote would then be held in 45 to 60 days. A 65 percent majority must vote to remove a councilor from office.

The council voted unanimously to adopt a recall process, and the ordinance took effect immediately.

“Maybe one will be started tomorrow,” Robinson said.