Jun. 23—FARMINGTON — Franklin County residents will be asked on Nov. 2 if they want to increase the number of county commissioners and districts from three to five and stagger the terms of five commissioners beginning in 2024, following redistricting.
LD 621 was passed by the Legislature earlier this month and was signed by the Gov. Janet Mills into law on June 15.
Commissioners rejected putting a similar referendum question before voters in 2020. That law was passed by the Legislature in 2019.
This time the law, which was amended, is written in a way that requires commissioners to put the question before voters, sponsor state Rep. H. Scott Landry (D-Farmington) said Wednesday.
The Secretary of State is going to try to get the question on a state ballot, he added.
If voters approve the question, the apportionment commission will submit a plan to divide Franklin County into three commissioner districts until the election in November 2024, and subsequently divide the county into five districts.
If the referendum fails to pass by majority vote, the apportionment commission shall submit a plan to divide the county into three commissioner districts with terms of office for the commissioners.
According to Landry, the key to the whole thing is to increase commissioners to give more say to the towns of Carrabassett Valley and Rangeley, which represents more than half of the county tax assessment.
The two towns along with several others, including some unorganized townships and organized plantations, are currently in District 3.
The districts would be divided vertically rather than horizontally, he said.
There would be two commissioners with two-year terms and three with four-year terms, Landry said. Election of commissioners would take place in 2022.
The apportionment plan, if five districts are approved, would have to align as closely as possible with the districts outlined in the law. The state apportionment would be based on the 2020 Census.
District 1 would represent Temple and Wilton.
District 2 would encompass Farmington.
District 3 would represent Avon, Carthage, Coplin Plantation, Eustis, North Franklin unorganized territory, Phillips, Rangeley, Rangeley Plantation, Sandy River Plantation, South Franklin unorganized territory, Strong, Weld, and West Central unorganized territory.
District 4 would consist of Carrabassett Valley, Dallas Plantation, East Central Franklin unorganized territory, Industry, Kingfield, New Sharon, New Vineyard and Wyman Township.
District 5 would represent Chesterville and Jay.