Dog on the Move

South Portland councilor’s transfer to completely different district raises some residents’ ire

SOUTH PORTLAND — Metropolis Councilor Jocelyn Leighton’s choice to stay in workplace after she moved out of the waterfront district the place she was elected has raised considerations amongst constituents who’re sad together with her assist for a current change in off-leash canine hours at Willard Seaside.

Residents sparred over Leighton’s continued illustration of District 1 throughout Tuesday’s council assembly. Some mentioned it was “basically undemocratic” that she was allowed to vote on the change, whereas others described her as being “scrupulously truthful” and aware of constituents.

Leighton lived at 8 Alder St. when she was elected District 1 councilor in November 2020. She subsequently moved to 34 Elmwood Ave. in District 3, a change she registered with the town when she went to the polls to vote in November 2021.

Below the town constitution, Leighton might proceed to characterize District 1 by way of the top of her three-year time period in November 2023. The town’s 5 district councilors and two at-large councilors are elected by voters citywide.

Leighton couldn’t run once more in District 1 except she moved again. District 3 Councilor Misha Pleasure’s time period runs by way of November 2024. Each at-large council seats are up for grabs this fall.

Leighton defended her transfer to District 3 and her continued presence on the council Tuesday night time, after a number of residents criticized her assist for the canine rule change and the constitution that enables her to stay on the council.

The choice to maneuver wasn’t simple, she mentioned, however she was “priced out” of District 1, a seaside part of the town that features Ferry Village, Bug Mild Park, Willard Seaside and the bordering neighborhoods. The median residence worth within the Willard Seaside space is $527,000, she mentioned.

“It’s not an reasonably priced place to dwell,” Leighton mentioned. “And as somebody who’s wanting to begin a household with someone on the age of 39, I don’t have a complete lot of time and I’m not going to attend three years to try this.”

Nonetheless, Leighton mentioned, she believes authorities illustration is necessary and she or he felt an obligation to meet her time period on the council as a result of she was elected by and serves voters citywide. She didn’t reply to a name for extra info.

Leighton got here below scrutiny throughout current council deliberations over extra modifications to summertime canine laws on Willard Seaside.

Below guidelines accepted final yr, canines have been allowed on the seaside, each leashed and unleashed, from 7-9 a.m. and 7-9 p.m., from Could 1 to Sept. 30.

The Metropolis Council just lately accepted a change that requires all canines to be leashed from 7-8 p.m., however continues to permit unleashed canines from 8-9 p.m. Morning hours have been unchanged. Canine usually are not allowed on the seaside at different instances through the summer time months.

The altered night hours went into impact final week, after petitioners failed to gather at the least 1,098 signatures from registered voters in favor of asking the council to repeal the change or ship the query to a citywide referendum.

Steve Silver, a Pine Avenue resident who circulated the petition, was one among a number of residents who criticized the rule change and questioned whether or not Leighton must be allowed to proceed representing District 1 when she not lives there.

“It’s simply not proper,” Silver mentioned through the public remark phase of Tuesday’s council assembly.

John Pani of Seaside Avenue defended the rule change and Leighton, saying she is “scrupulously truthful” and a very good listener who’s held in excessive regard by many residents of District 1.

Metropolis Clerk Emily Scully and different municipal officers confirmed that the town constitution permits Leighton to stay on the council and characterize District 1 till her time period ends. Different councilors and college board members have finished the identical up to now, Scully mentioned.

“I’m not the primary one to do it and I gained’t be the final,” Leighton mentioned.

If a metropolis councilor or faculty board member strikes exterior the town, nevertheless, they need to resign from their seat.

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