AUGUSTA — Mayor William Stokes’ first day as a judge, if his nomination is confirmed by the state Senate July 31, will be his last as mayor.

Stokes’ nomination as a superior court justice is up for confirmation later this month.

If, as expected, Gov. Paul LePage’s nomination of Stokes is confirmed July 31 by the state Senate, Stokes will no longer be the city’s mayor as of that same moment.

“Assuming that I am confirmed on the 31st, then the rules of judicial conduct then apply to me, at that point,” Stokes said. “And I can no longer be mayor. So assuming that all played out, then I’d have to resign as mayor on the 31st. So I could not act as mayor once I’m confirmed.”

It appears the city may, at least briefly, be without a mayor.

City councilors indicated to City Manager William Bridgeo recently they did not wish to schedule a special meeting for the evening of July 31 to select an interim mayor from their ranks. Instead, they’ll likely pick an interim mayor on Aug. 7 at their regular council meeting.

City attorney Stephen Langsdorf said that should be fine.

“There is nothing in the (city) charter that requires you, immediately, the same day the mayor resigns, to appoint a replacement,” Langsdorf said recently to councilors. “So I think it’s fine to schedule a meeting at a reasonably convenient date. It’d be within one week anyway, so I don’t see the legal necessity to do it that day.”

Langsdorf noted the city’s mayor only takes action at meetings, so as long as an interim mayor is named at the first council meeting after Stokes resigns, there would be no need for action by the mayor until then anyway.

The interim mayor would likely serve until the November elections, when Bridgeo said a new mayor would likely be elected to fill the remaining portion of Stokes’ term, about 14 months.

Barbara Wardwell, city clerk, said there would be enough time to place the mayor’s position on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election if Stokes resigns July 31.

David Rollins, an at-large city councilor, has announced he intends to run for mayor if and when Stokes resigns to become a court justice. Rollins is in his third term on the council and briefly served as interim mayor in 2011 after Roger Katz, mayor at the time, became a state senator.

LePage’s nomination of Stokes, a registered Democrat who is deputy attorney general and chief of the criminal division of the Maine Office of the Attorney General, is scheduled to be considered by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee July 24, in a public hearing.

His nomination to the Superior Court would then go to the full Senate. However the Senate would not technically vote to confirm the 63-year-old Stokes. The Senate’s potential action, per the state nomination process, would be to vote to overturn the nomination, an act considered unlikely that would require a two-thirds vote.

Stokes was first elected mayor of Augusta in 2012 to finish off the term of Katz, a Republican who stepped down as mayor after he was elected to the state Senate. Stokes was elected to his second mayoral term last year.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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