Dover-Foxcroft eyes voting for manager

Posted Sept. 25, 2008, at 12:45 a.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — In an unusual move, a group of resi-dents hopes to amend Dover-Foxcroft’s charter to elect rather than appoint a town manager.

More than 350 registered vot-ers signed a petition drive to amend the charter to elect not only a town manager but also a town clerk. The latter position became appointive last year when a new charter was adopted.

That petition is now headed to a public hearing at the se-lectmen’s Oct. 13 meeting to be held in the former Morton Ave-nue School gymnasium.

In the interim, selectmen authorized Town Manager Jack Clukey to get a legal opinion on whether the change is an amendment versus a revision.

Under an amendment, an ar-ticle would be placed on the ballot for a referendum. If the request is considered a revi-sion, a charter commission must be formed to review the document and propose changes.

Regardless of the category the request is under, the effort to elect a town manager is thought to be the first such at-tempt in Maine.

“It’s not anything that they have in Maine,” Maine Munici-pal Association spokesman Mike Starn said this week. MMA is a nonprofit organiza-tion whose members represent most cities and towns in the state and is governed by a 12-member committee of elected and appointed municipal offi-cials.

“It’s very unusual and it’s just inconsistent with the whole theory behind the town manager position and town government,” Starn said. The position is meant to be an ap-pointive administrative one to work for the elected body which removes politics from the ad-ministrative management as-pects of the community, he said.

Petition organizers Don Ben-jamin and Richard Stites say they want to protect the demo-cratic process and bring ac-countability to town govern-ment.

Both Benjamin and Stites envision a process in which selectmen would advertise for a town manager and would screen candidates. The top three or four candidates would be presented to residents at a public meeting. The candidates at that meeting would tell resi-dents what they would do for the town, then the residents would vote for the candidate of their choice. The candidate who received the most votes would be hired.

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