Groups use Election Day to drum up early support

Posted Nov. 02, 2010, at 10:29 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Voters in Bangor on Tuesday saw no shortage of potential future referendum questions. Petitioners staffed tables at the Civic Center to educate residents about three local items that have generated considerable interest of late.

The first group of petitioners, led by resident Steve Sleeper, is hoping to build support for a referendum vote on the city’s plans to build a multimillion-dollar arena. The City Council has approved design plans but has not pulled the trigger on construction yet.

Sleeper believes the arena is too expensive and the financial burden ultimately would fall on taxpayers.

Another group, led by Bangor police dispatcher Jim Morrill, is hoping to gather enough signatures to support a referendum question that would reverse a recent City Council decision to consolidate Bangor police and fire dispatch with Penobscot County’s.

Morrill said the decision was made because of cost-savings concerns, but he doesn’t think the council has proved that any savings exist.

The final group, led by resident Angela Hoy, was seeking support to force the City Council to make a decision on her proposal to set residency restrictions on certain registered sex offenders. Earlier this month, councilors tabled an ordinance amendment that would have created 750-foot buffers around schools, parks and other areas. The ordinance would apply only to sex offenders who committed felony crimes against victims under age 14 and would not apply retroactively.

Hoy said the council’s lack of action makes her think the city is trying to stonewall her initiative.

In order to force a local referendum vote, petitioners need to gather signatures equaling more than 10 percent of turnout from the most recent election. The signatures can be gathered over a period of 60 days but would need to be certified by the city clerk’s office before a question goes to voters.

If any of these three issues result in a referendum, a question could go to voters as early as next June, although the city also has the ability to schedule a special election.

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