Correction: In earlier versions of this article, it was reported that Councilor Calvin Brown’s Ivy Drive home has been listed on the market. Brown said the home is not listed for sale.
By MIKE CHAIKEN
If Councilor Calvin Brown steps down from his post, and that’s still an “if,” the city can expect a special election to fill the vacancy, according to the city’s corporate counsel.
At this month’s council meeting, Brown, a representative of the city’s first district, was confronted about his recent purchase of a multi-family home on George Street in the second district.Initially, he explained to the council, he intended to set up his mother and brother in the new home, and maintain a residence in the first district. However, he eventually realized this wasn’t feasible.
When his home on Ivy Drive is sold, Brown said at the meeting, he will resign his post.
City records show Brown closed on the property on George Street in October.
On Monday, however, Brown backtracked on his statements at the council meeting.
“It had been my impression until recently… that the law would require me to resign once I was no longer a resident of the first council district,” said Brown in an email to the Observer. “However, after consulting with several attorneys, checking state statutes and the city’s charter and ordinances, as a legal matter it seems as though I may finish out the term I was elected to, representing the city’s first district.”
Brown said, “If I were to be moving out of Bristol, I would have to resign. Since I am only moving across town, and my address was still Ivy Drive at the time I was nominated and elected, we believe.. the state law that speaks to disqualification of municipal elected officers, allows me to continue this term. (The statute) states only that if one ‘ceases to be an elector thereof’ (i.e. the municipality in which one is elected), then ‘such office shall be deemed vacant.’”
“(W)e will request an official opinion from the Bristol Office of Corporation Counsel,” said Brown.
Brown, a Democrat, was reelected to the first district in November. He was the highest vote getter in the first district race. Tony D’Amato, a Republican, also won a seat. Incumbent Eric Carlson, a Republican, and Mayra Sampson, a Democrat, were unsuccessful in that race.
If Brown resigns, what will be the next step to fill that post in the first district?
Corporation Council Ed Krawiecki, in an email, explained, “The easy answer to your question is that if Calvin were to resign in the near future or for that matter outside of (nine) months to the end of his term, there would be a special election.”
Krawiecki explained, if there was a need for special election, “The mayor would announce the date.”
Registrar of Voters for the Democrats, Kevin McCauley said the election would have to be held within 45 days of an announcement of a resignation.
The special election would be open to a Democrat and a Republican candidate, selected by their respective town committees, said McCauley. In addition, McCauley said, the special election would be open to any successful petitioning candidates. McCauley also noted the special election would only be held in the first district’s three polling places.
Krawiecki said it might be financially beneficially for the city if Brown should step down sooner rather than later given his status, due to a quirk in the 2016 calendar.
“One interesting twist this year might be that since there will be a Presidential Preference primary on April 26— and to save taxpayers the cost of a special election— perhaps the special election could be held on the same day,” said the corporate counsel.
McCauley said the cost of a “stand alone” special election would be approximately $12,000 for staffing of Edgewood, Northeast Middle, and Mountain View schools (which comprise the first district). The cost of a special election incorporated into the Presidential Preference Primary on April 26 would be about $1,200, said McCauley.
McCauley, said including the special election as the same day as the primary would require permission from the secretary of the state.
If the special election is held as a “stand alone,” McCauley also noted “schools will be in session and will pose some challenges, which is always a concern.”
As a reaction to some criticism levied that asks when did Brown know he wouldn’t be in the district, Brown said, “When I announced my candidacy, we had no idea what house I was going to buy and – other than I knew I wanted it to be in Bristol – we had no idea where either. When I was endorsed, we still had no idea.”
Some also noted that because the house was bought with a CHFA loan, there would be a residency requirement that would mean he could not serve the first district once he bought the home.
“The CHFA loan the bank provided me did have an occupancy requirement, but after sharing my council boundaries with them, I was advised that a waiver could be obtained for that requirement if need be,” said Brown.
“As to the question of ‘who else knew about this in government’ or ‘in the party?’ – the answer is no one….This was a private endeavor for my family,” Brown said.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.