HALLOWELL — At its final meeting of 2023, the Hallowell City Council gave initial approval to a proposal that would ban flavored tobacco products. Councilors also agreed to hold a special election June 11 to fill the seat vacated by Peter Spiegel, who stepped down from the council due to personal reasons.

City councilors voted 4-2 Monday to approve the first reading of an ordinance that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products in Hallowell. The ban would affect e-cigarettes and vapes, which have seen an alarming growth in popularity among teenagers.

Councilors Kate Dufour and Ryan Martin voted against the proposal.

“It’s a state issue. If we ban it, children can still buy it somewhere else,” Dufour said, echoing statements she has made in the past. “We are only accepting an ordinance that will have no result.”

Martin, who chairs Hallowell’s Health and Wellness Committee, had supported the proposal in committee but voted against it during the first reading.

“I voted for it in the committee, but I will be voting against it,” said Martin. “As Councilor Dufour put it so eloquently, I don’t think this will make a bit of difference. We need to be judicious with our time and effort.”


The proposal has yet to go through two other readings. If approved, it would go into effect 10 days after the third reading. Mayor George Lapointe said the second reading and an official public hearing is scheduled to take place Jan. 8.

In the wake of Peter Spiegel’s resignation, the council also unanimously agreed to hold a special election June 11 to fill Spiegel’s seat.

Officials plan to appoint a temporary councilor to serve until the June election. Lapointe said he plans to interview 15 people who have expressed interest in the position and recommend one person to the City Council for approval.

However, Councilor Maureen AuCoin implored her colleagues to consider a March special election to ensure a replacement is elected to the vacant seat as soon as possible.

Councilor Michael Frett disagreed with the notion.

“I don’t see a reason to deviate from the charter that says that the mayor should appoint a replacement,” said Frett. “The mayor is elected and should be respected. I don’t understand why we are trying to rush an election in March when the mayor has individuals he has to consider and make a recommendation to the council.”


Other council members agreed that holding an election in March could prove challenging for potential candidates as well as the city staff, due to time constraints.

“It’s not easy to conduct an election,” said Dufour. “It’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of opportunity for a misstep. It’s vital we give the staff time to conduct a proper election.”

City Manager Gary Lamb acknowledged that having the election in June is more feasible for the city staff.

“It was a very tight timeframe to have it in March,” he said. “Also, there wouldn’t have been enough time to inform the voters. Turnout in March would have been lower; it will be better in June.”

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