Matt Hochman, Bar Harbor town councilor. Hochman expressed concerns over the process of nominating members to the Warrant Committee. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Warrant Committee changes scrapped

BAR HARBOR — The Town Council scrapped a proposal to change the terms and election process for the Warrant Committee Tuesday, saying a more thorough review of the committee’s role is needed.

Town Attorney Ed Bearor had drafted an amendment to the town charter changing the committee structure to create staggered three-year terms, with seven members to be elected every year, following a proposal from the current committee.

The Warrant Committee currently is elected in an up-or-down vote on a slate of 22 members at town meeting in June. Members serve one-year terms, but the practice has been for the nominating committee to give preference to current members willing to continue to serve.

That practice drew criticism this year after an unusually large number of residents expressed interest in joining the committee for the first time.

Councilors voted 4-2 not to move forward with the proposed amendment. Councilors Erin Early Ward, Stephen Coston, Paul Paradis and Peter St. Germain were the majority.

“The nominating problems are what brought the other problems to light,” Paradis said. “I think we need to step back, and when things calm down a little bit, we can tackle some of the issues that have been raised.”

Matthew Hochman and Judie Noonan voted to put the amendment on the November ballot.

“I was dismayed by the way the nomination process was handled this year,” Hochman said, arguing the proposal came from the Warrant Committee and had their support. “This would at least put into place a more fair nomination procedure; I don’t think that precludes us from tackling all the other issues.”

Noonan said she had heard from people who expressed interest in the committee this year and were not nominated. “They felt like they got blown off,” she said.

Councilors agreed to discuss the Warrant Committee’s roles and responsibilities, election process and the town’s budget review process at their goal-setting session in the fall.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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