SACO — The Saco City Council approved the final version of a charter amendment that would modify the process for selecting municipal board, committee and commission members and require appointees to these positions be registered voters in Saco, during a meeting held on Sept 11. Residents will be able to vote on the charter amendment in November. If residents vote in favor of the amendment it will take effect in January.

The “intent of the amendment (is) to ensure timely filling of municipal vacancies,” said Councilor Nathan Johnston of Ward 7, who proposed the measure.

“The language (of the charter) is very weak right now, so it has been allowed at times in the past to have vacancies go on well past 30 days, up to a year,” he added.

Currently, Section 2.07 of the city charter, which outlines the powers of the mayor, mandates that the mayor appoints municipal board and commission positions, which the city council then confirms. If no candidate is appointed and confirmed within 30 days of vacancy, the city council takes over filling the vacancy.

Under the new amendment, residents interested in being appointed to a municipal position must submit an application to the city clerk. It also clarifies the appointment process, enacting a timeline where the city council has the power to fill the vacancy based on the applications collected by the city clerk if there is no candidate appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council after an initial 30-day period. If no candidates have applied or no suitable candidates are found by the city council, the process is kicked back over to the mayor, who has another opportunity to appoint a candidate within another 30 days.

The new amendment also requires all candidates who wish to serve in these municipal positions be a resident of the city of Saco and be a registered voter in the city for the entirety of their term.


“An individual has to have some buy in to the city of Saco,” said Johnston of the move to require that candidates be voters in the city, not merely residents.

The measure also adds clarifying language around when the seat is considered vacant. According to the new language, a position is considered vacant when: the member dies or resigns, a member’s term expires, a member racks up three unexcused absences in one year, a member is removed by the city council for violating the city’s code of ethics or for criminal activity or misconduct. A seat will also be considered vacant if a member is no longer a registered voter in the city.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Thornton Academy Linnell Gymnasium, 438 Main St. Saco.

Absentee ballots will be available the second week in October from the City Clerk’s Office for absentee voting at Saco City Hall. The last day to request or vote an in-person absentee ballot is Thursday, Nov. 2, unless the voter has a special circumstance.

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