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Lewiston's mayor says that councilors are trying to silence him under a new proposal

Carl Sheline
lewistonmaine.gov
Carl Sheline

Lewiston mayor Carl Sheline says that other city councilors are denying his first amendment rights by potentially changing council rules.

Sheline is pushing back against a proposed amendment that will be floated at Tuesday's council meeting, which would specify that as presiding officer, the mayor should, "remain neutral and detached" during debates, and not debate any specific item until it's been resolved.

Sheline said that mayors in the city have long been able to voice their opinion on issues. And he views the move as specifically targeting him for opposing certain recent council actions -- specifically a recent decision from the council to restrict where unhoused residents can stay in the city.

"This is not a legal move. This is a political one. Obviously, if I agreed with the council, this wouldn't be on the agenda tonight," Sheline said.

Council Chair Lee Clement said the change wouldn't limit the mayor's role, but only ensure that the city's rules are aligned with Robert's Rules of Order. He said that Sheline would still be entitled to comment on issues, but would have to relinquish his role as presiding officer during the discussion.

Lewiston's mayor currently has limited power in the council, and can only vote in certain circumstances, such as breaking a tie.