BAR HARBOR — Nonbinding resolutions declaring “sanctuary communities” will now come before voters both here and in Mount Desert at town meetings this year.
According to the wording of the resolution, its purpose is “to ensure all visitors and residents may live free of harassment or arrest by restricting town and law enforcement personnel from asking personal identity questions relating to country or origin, legal residence status, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation unless this information is required in the investigation of a serious/violent crime … .”
Even though nonbinding, the resolution further states that it would “guarantee that law enforcement officials shall not detain an individual solely on the basis of a civil immigration detainer.”
Bar Harbor town councilors voted 5-1 to send the resolution to open town meeting June 6. Councilors Clark Stivers, Matt Hochman, Paul Paradis, Gary Friedmann and Burt Barker supported the action, Peter St. Germain was opposed, and Anne Greenlee was absent.
A group chaired by resident Brett Ciccotelli collected 328 signatures that were verified by Town Clerk Pat Gray as registered voters of the town.
Ciccotelli met with Jim Willis, who serves both towns as police chief, before beginning the petition process, he said.
“I learned that as a town we’re already doing many things to respect difference. We are a place that wants to offer safety and does. Even if we are doing good things, not everyone knows that. So the resolution is to say to our people, those who live here all the time and those who live here some of the time and those who visit, that we want them to feel safe.”
Councilor Burt Barker asked whether the Police Department is clear about the nonbinding nature of the resolution.
“It’s a formal expression of opinion,” Town Manager Cornell Knight said. “The officers will enforce the law.”
Circulators of the petition in Bar Harbor included Ciccotelli, Richard Sassaman, Milja Brecher-DeMuro, John Allgood, Renee Duncan, Bo Greene, Anne Rhode and Caleb Heffner.