WATERVILLE — The language in the city charter that explains the process for filling a vacancy in the mayor’s position is unclear and confusing, officials have found, so the City Council is expected to consider changes Tuesday to how the process should work.

Mayor Jay Coelho said recently he is considering resigning his office because of a serious illness. If that were to happen, city officials said, a special municipal election must be held.

Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho Contributed photo

The City Council is to consider authorizing a municipal referendum election for Nov. 2, and designating a polling place for the regular and special municipal elections that day.

The 7 p.m. meeting is to be held in person for the first time in months, in the basement of The Elm at 21 College Ave. Those attending the meetings are asked to enter through the door to the rear of the building.

The meeting also will be live-streamed, and those seeking to watch remotely may do so via a link on the city’s website.

Contacted by email Monday, Coelho said he will not be resigning Tuesday and planned to make a decision at the council’s Aug. 17 meeting.

The order councilors will consider Tuesday related to authorizing a referendum election stipulates voters Nov. 2 would consider changes to the city charter to clarify the process of filling a vacancy in the mayor’s position.

A summary of the order says a review of the city charter found the charter refers to the caucus process for special council elections, but not for special elections for mayor.

“Therefore there is no provision to allow for caucusing for Mayor for Special Elections, which means that all candidates for Mayor in a Special Election would run without party affiliation,” the summary reads. “The second anomaly found is that the caucus for a Special Election for Councilor would need to be held between 40 days and 36 days before that election.”

It is assumed that “the intent was to make that terminology not less than 40 days, rather than not more than 40 days,” the summary reads.

“Having only four days to caucus is unreasonable and may cause confusion in the signature-gathering process (some candidates may not want to run if they’re not nominated by their party, but would be forced to gather the required signatures anyway, with such a short timeline),” the summary continues. “Other grammatical changes simply cleaned up the language.”

The City Council must vote twice to approve the order and may take only one vote Tuesday. However, the resolution for designating a place for the elections requires only one vote and asks councilors to support Waterville Junior High School at 100 West River Road as the polling site.

In other matters Tuesday, the City Council is scheduled to consider:

• Contracting with The Elm LLC as the site of council meetings.

• Spending $36,983 to buy and install an alarm system for the council space at The Elm, City Hall and the Public Works office building, and a video security system for City Hall.

• Awarding a contract to Wright-Pierce, a Portland environmental engineering firm, to serve as a consultant for the city’s road and sidewalk rehabilitation projects.

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