Mayor Bob Carrier and Councilors Dennis Ciotti (Ward 2), Fergus Cullen (Ward 6), Marcia Gasses (Ward 4), Michele Muffett-Lipinski (Ward 1), John O’Connor (At Large), Dennis Shanahan (Ward 5), Deborah Thibodeaux (ward 3) and Lindsey Williams (free)

When voters in Dover go to the polls on November 2, the ballot will be much longer than people are used to. Once you’ve finished voting for the mayor and elected officials, voters will be asked to consider 20 amendments to the city’s charter.

The most important thing voters know about these proposed charter changes is that none of them are controversial. Most are minor housekeeping modifications. They are all recommended unanimously by the City Council.

Two of the proposed changes are more substantial than the others. Voters may want to take a closer look at these amendments.

Question 1 deals with the redistribution and adjustment of neighborhood boundaries to reflect population changes revealed by the census. Normally, voters would be asked to approve new constituencies, if necessary, this year. However, census data arrived late due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Question 1 allows city council to ordinarily approve new constituencies in time for the 2022 state elections. This is seen as a temporary solution to meet a one-time need. The redistribution process can be reintegrated into the charter before the next census.

Question 2 specifies when a vacancy on the municipal council or school board occurs. Our current charter is ambiguous as to when a vacancy is recognized. It was revealed a year ago when an elected official left town but did not immediately resign. Question 2 indicates that leaving your district creates a vacancy and specifies how this vacancy will be filled.

All other proposed changes to the charter make minor changes or clarifications.

Question 3 specifies that school board members serve for two years, from January to January, until their successors are sworn in.

Question 4 indicates that the city’s annual budget will be adopted by June 15.

Question 5 clarifies that the City Staff Advisory Council is intended for matters involving City employees, not appointed or elected officials.

Question 6 strengthens the city’s conflict of interest rules and disclosure requirements when a potential conflict may exist.

Question 7 recognizes that the City Clerk may send some notifications by email, not just regular mail.

Question 8 clarifies the responsibilities of a five-member ethics committee. Fortunately, Dover has not experienced any issues requiring the ethics commission in recent years. This question provides a mechanism when needed in the future.

Question 9 makes the charter consistent with state law regarding potential charter violations.

Questions 10 and 11 will delight grammar hawks and eagle-eyed editors. The first makes 16 modifications to consistently spell numbers less than 10 (“nine” versus “9”) and uses numbers greater than 10 (“14” versus “fourteen”). The second makes nine changes by adding or removing commas or apostrophes.

Question 12 deletes six uses of gender-specific terms (“his”) with inclusive terms such as “their” or “employee”.

Questions 13 and 17 correct incorrect references to state laws.

Questions 14 and 15 make five modifications by inserting the missing words (“or”, “like” and “and”) in the sentences.

Question 16 corrects five spelling mistakes or typos. We change a reference from the “City of more” to the “City of Dover”. So we can end it.

Question 18 moves a sentence from part of the charter to a more relevant section.

Questions 19 and 20 correct the use of the wrong word in two places.

The city charter is the constitution of Dover, defining our basic form of government. This document belongs to the people and any changes, however minor, must be approved by you, the citizens of Dover. These changes come to you after a year-long city council review process, public hearings, and a review by the state attorney general’s office. The full text of the changes will appear on your ballot and are available for your online review on LINK.

We, the entire city council, urge voters to vote “yes” on the 20 proposed charter changes.

Submitted by the nine members of the Dover City Council: Mayor Bob Carrier and Councilors Dennis Ciotti (Ward 2), Fergus Cullen (Ward 6), Marcia Gasses (Ward 4), Michele Muffett-Lipinski (Ward 1), John O ‘Connor (free), Dennis Shanahan (ward 5), Deborah Thibodeaux (ward 3) and Lindsey Williams (free)

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