Lewiston approves deadline for starting petitions

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LEWISTON — Councilors approved an amendment to the city’s citizen petition process Tuesday.

Residents hoping to challenge City Council decisions or create new ordinances by ballot have 10 days to get 10 people to sign the petition in City Hall.

The city’s current ordinance allows petition applications to sit for an indefinite amount of time.

Once backers have collected those 10 signatures, they can take the petition public and collect enough signatures to put the question on a city ballot. They have 60 days to complete the petition and collect enough signatures.

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Those questions can be a challenge of a City Council decision or creation of a new city ordinance.

“Every stage of the process has a deadline, except at initial part of the process,” City Administrator Ed Barrett said.

Lewiston had three successful citizen petition efforts in the past year, meaning citizens collected enough signatures to get their question on the ballot before voters. That includes an effort to create a joint Lewiston-Auburn Charter Commission this past summer, the marijuana legalization effort and repeal of the St. Laurent housing development that were on city ballots in November.

All three were able to collect their petitions within a week, according to City Clerk Kathy Montejo said.

The new process gives residents 10 business days to get 10 supporters to sign the City Hall petition.

“That’s effectively two weeks, and we thought that is more than a reasonable time,” Barrett said. “It shouldn’t be a problem. And that way, petitions don’t just sit there forever.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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