LEWISTON, Maine — During a meeting Tuesday night, Lewiston city councilors voted to table a discussion about the mayor's role.
The proposed amendment would change council rules preventing the mayor from participating in debates unless they first give up their role as presiding officer. Mayors would resume that role after the discussion.
“It’s undemocratic and it’s un-American,” Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline told NEWS CENTER Maine. "This amendment is really trying to take away the voice of the mayor and thereby the representation of citizens of Lewiston.”
Sheline argued he's allowed to comment during a debate, but other councilors disagree.
“The chair is not supposed to ring in with commentary on whether he thinks it’s a good or bad idea," Lewiston City Council member Lee Clement said. "That would be a partisan action and while serving as chair would be prohibited."
Clement added he’s not trying to take any power away from Sheline. Instead, he's trying to clarify the mayor's role in discussions in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order, which is a standard for government meetings with which Lewiston aligns.
“Robert’s rules specifically state the presiding officer must remain impartial while presiding,” Clement added.
Other councilors said it’s important to hear the mayor’s thoughts on all issues.
“If our mayor wasn’t expressing dissenting viewpoints, if he was rather agreeing with all that was being said by the majority by that point, would we even be having this discussion tonight?" Lewiston City Council member Stephanie Gelinas said.
The council plans to discuss the proposal further during an executive session and will bring it back before the council at a future meeting.