LEWISTON — The City Council will get the chance to appoint a Planning Board member after it successfully blocked Mayor Carl Sheline’s pick for the board.

The appointment process was the first real test for a new charter provision that stipulates the mayor’s appointments of full members to the Planning Board must be confirmed by the City Council. The provision was one of nine amendments approved by voters in November.

In response to how it played out, Sheline is questioning whether last year’s Charter Review Committee foresaw it being used this way, with the council effectively blocking the appointment without ever having made public comments as to why.

After voting down Sheline’s nomination of Leigh Albert in February, a 60-day window for the mayor to make an appointment will lapse this weekend, passing the appointment power to the City Council.

“What transpired is quite unfortunate,” he said. “I’m sure the intent behind the recent charter change was to allow both the mayor and the council to share in the decision-making process of Planning Board appointments, but that’s not the outcome that resulted.”

He said that since the charter allows the council to fill vacant positions after 60 days, the charter change makes full Planning Board members “effectively City Council appointments.”


“Practically speaking, this allows the council to run out the clock and appoint their own candidate after only two months,” he said. “I have a hard time believing this is what the Charter Review Committee wanted when they recommended this change.”

The council postponed a vote on Albert’s appointment Feb. 1, then voted it down Feb. 15. No councilor opposed to the appointment commented at either meeting.

The Feb. 15 vote failed 3-3, with Councilors Laurier Pease, Lee Clement and Robert McCarthy opposed. Councilors Rick LaChapelle and Stephanie Gelinas were absent, meaning Sheline was able to vote.

Following the vote, Sheline stuck by Albert as his nomination, but due to standard council procedure under Robert’s Rules of Order, the decision was deemed final and the appointment did not appear on this week’s agenda.

Sheline said Albert is “a well-qualified candidate who cares about Lewiston.”

“Not only am I surprised that her confirmation vote was first postponed, and then failed to pass in a subsequent council meeting, but what really surprises me is that at both times those councilors opposing her appointment did not offer any objection or comment.”

There are nine Planning Board members — seven full members and two associate members, who only vote in the event that a full member is absent.

Albert, a Lewiston resident of 14 years, is vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid at Bates College. She ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 6 School Committee seat in November.

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