LEWISTON — Voters approved a number of changes to the city charter Tuesday, including a move to staggered two-year terms for elected officials.

Other changes include new rules on how temporary committees are formed, how the Planning Board is appointed, and updates to the city’s budget process.

The nine proposed amendments were selected after a committee, led by former longtime City Administrator Ed Barrett, conducted a review of the charter and the City Council forwarded the changes to voters.

The shift to staggered terms will alter the current system that elects all seats for mayor, City Council and School Committee during the same election every two years, and replace it with annual elections, where only half the seats are up for election.

The change to staggered terms passed 5,082 to 2,178.

Now that the change has been approved, the mayor, three councilors and four School Committee members would be elected in one year, and four councilors, the at-large School Committee member, and three other School Committee members would be elected in the alternate year.

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According to the Charter Review Committee’s final report, the process will begin during the 2023 election, when the mayor will be elected to serve a three-year term along with the councilors for wards 2, 4 and 6. Councilors from wards 1, 3, 5, and 7 will be elected for an initial two-year term. Thereafter, all terms shall be for two years. Also according to the provision, the mayor will not be eligible to serve for more than three consecutive terms.

During the charter review process, committee members argued that the current system leads to significant turnover in a majority of elections.

The results on Tuesday do not include question 4, which would update a provision for removing elected and appointed officials from office.

City Clerk Kathy Montejo said that the clerk’s office discovered last week during voting machine testing that there was an error in the programming of question 4. The results for the question were not tabulating correctly but all of the other races on the city ballot “tested perfectly with no issues,” she said.

After reaching out to the vendor, it was found to be a programming error, but Montejo said, “Unfortunately there was not enough time to have the machines reprogrammed for question 4.”

“As such, we have been working with the city attorney and at this time after consultation with the city attorney the recommendation is to conduct a recount of city question four the week of Nov. 15,” she said.


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