Union voters split on election laws

Posted Feb. 01, 2012, at 6:03 p.m.

UNION, Maine — Voters rejected one local campaign finance law but approved a second during a special town meeting held Jan. 30 at the town office.

Voters rejected by a 49-33 tally a local ordinance that would have required municipal candidates to follow the state’s campaign reporting laws. But they approved 40-34 an ordinance that would require reporting of money raised and spent on local referendums.

The proposals were put forth by Selectman Lyle Cramer.

Cramer noted he ran for public offices while he lived in Westbrook, including a try for the state Senate seat in that district. In that race, he was required to file reports on money received and money spent.

“The obligations and transparencies shouldn’t change based on where you live,” Cramer said.

Cramer was elected to the Union Board of Selectmen in June 2011. He said he spent $300 on signs and copying fliers. He said, however, that he was aware of other candidates spending more money.

His proposed ordinance would have required candidates to report how much money they received, who donated it and how the money was spent.

Cramer said he believes that proposal failed at the town meeting because residents did not want to discourage people to run for public office.

His proposal for backers and opponents of municipal referendums to file such reports, however, was approved.

Reports on referendum spending will be filed with the town clerk rather than the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

“There should be accountability and transparency at every level of government,” he said.

At the town meeting, voters also gave selectmen the authority to sell a 2003 ambulance with the proceeds designated for ambulance reserve funds.

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