AUGUSTA — Vacancies on the City Council and the school board won’t be filled until June following a council vote Thursday to delay a special election until a referendum on the school budget will be held.

The council and school board now have one unoccupied at-large position each, both made vacant by the November election of one member of each to higher office.

Mayor David Rollins left his old at-large council seat when he was elected mayor in November.

Chairwoman Kimberly Martin vacated her former at-large school board seat when she was sworn in as chairwoman earlier this month.

While some councilors had said previously they thought June is too long to wait and too long to have an incomplete council and school board, most thought waiting until June, when an election is expected to be held anyway, will save money and give candidates time to mount a campaign and residents time to learn about the candidates and make their choice.

Councilors voted 6-0 Thursday to set the special municipal election vote for June 9, when voters are expected to go to the polls for the annual referendum on the school budget. City Manager William Bridgeo has said a typical citywide special election costs $7,000 to $10,000.

The June 9 date being set allows the city to set other deadlines as well, including March 16 as the first day nomination papers for candidates who wish to run for either of the positions will be available.

Those papers will be due April 23, candidates on the ballot will be announced April 24, and absentee voting will begin May 8.

“Those are important dates triggered by the June 9 special election,” Rollins said. “Perhaps the most important date of all for candidates is they can come pick up nomination papers March 16.”

Martin, at a council discussion of when to schedule the vote last week, said the school board hadn’t discussed the issue. She said she would understand if June is when councilors decide to have the vote, but also said she thought six months is a long time to not have a full board.

City Clerk Barbara Wardwell said in a memo to councilors that an election must be scheduled at least 25 days before it is held. That’s because Maine statutes require candidates have a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 40 days to gather nomination signatures, she said. State law also requires a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 45 days between the filing deadline for nomination signatures and the election. She also said the city clerk would need one day to certify that the nomination signatures are valid. She said following the minimum timeline would require the city to print ballots in-house, which would mean votes would need to be counted manually, and would not allow enough time for absentee voting.

Wardwell said the city’s normal timeline is the maximum of 86 days — 40 days to gather signatures, one day to certify those signatures and 45 days of campaigning. She said that would allow the city 14 days to have ballots printed, which would allow votes to be counted electronically, and 30 days of absentee voting prior to the election.

After the June special election, the city council position will be up for election again in November. The school board position will be up for election again in November of 2016.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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