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Township Council Approves Ordinance to Move Elections to November

The council approved the ordinance on Dec. 3 with a majority vote of 4-1.

File Photo
File Photo
The Township Council voted to approve Ordinance No. 2392-13, which will move nonpartisan municipal elections from May to November, at the Dec. 3 township council meeting.

Ordinance No. 2392-13 was approved on second and final reading by a township council majority vote of 4-1, with councilman Joe Krakoviak being the only nay vote.

The ordinance went before the council and was approved on first reading at the Nov. 12 township council meeting.

Mayor Robert Parisi initiated the change last month and recommended the election be moved for various reasons, including trying to save the taxpayers money and keeping the residents and students of the West Orange School District safe.

“There are not a lot of easy ways to save money and when the administration was looking towards the budget for next year, we thought this was a good thing,” Parisi said at the Dec. 3 council meeting. “It will save the township closer to $90,000 or $100,000.

Parisi also stated at the Dec. 3 meeting that there is “nothing sinister” about the administration recommending the change now and understands people have a “natural skepticism” about things.

“We thought the time was right,” Parisi said. “I didn’t believe there was going to be a lot of opposition to it and I respect the people that disagree, but it is right for West Orange residents for no other reason than good policy.”

Parisi added that the school board changed their election time “seamlessly” and he believes having fewer elections will keep students in the schools safe, as schools are usually open all day on election day and act as polling stations for voters to come and go as they please.

Parisi further stated that there will “always be drop-off” in voter turnout, but the turnout will still exceed that drop-off if elections are moved to November.

Council President Susan McCartney agreed with Parisi at the Dec. 3 meeting stating that the move “saves quite a bit of money going into next year’s budget.”

Krakoviak stated through email correspondence with the Patch this week that he believes the council should have given residents more time to look at both sides of the issue before approving the ordinance to move the non-partisan elections.

“I believe we should have had a longer period of time – more than the three weeks we had for introduction and approval -- for people to learn of the proposal and consider its pros and cons,” Krakoviak said. “Voters should have a vote on when they vote for their municipal leaders.”

Krakoviak also stated he believed the township council and Mayor should have shown more interest in the petition of 175 signatures that residents presented at the Dec. 3 meeting, requesting the vote to go up for referendum.

"I was greatly disappointed by the lack of interest by the council majority and mayor to the petition with 175 signatures of residents from all over town obtained over a few days requesting a referendum,” Krakoviak said. “Four other municipal councils across the state have reversed course and listened to residents who asked for -- and received – such referendums. If it turns out we’ve made a mistake, the law requires us to live with it for at least a decade.”

Parisi stated at the Dec. 3 meeting that the township “can’t put every emotionally charged issue up for referendum.”

“We all won’t always agree, but it does not mean we are ignoring residents or the township or that we should short down as a government,” Parisi said. “We are elected officials and have to make decisions.”

john anthony prignano December 07, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Three school construction referendums were defeated, approximately $55,000,000, $23,000,000, and $21,000,000 respectively, and yet the School Board spent more than the original $55,000,000 proposal. A school budget was defeated, yet not one cent was cut from it, AND a consultant was {ostensibly } paid to review it. So it was budget intact, PLUS a consulting fee. So, no more school budget vote, no more Initiative and Referendum, and now 4 members of the Council and the Mayor, who were elected to FOUR YEAR TERMS, have decided to extend their term of office. Why no public vote on something of this magnitude? It's really quite simple - because the public might vote "NO". It's happened before, but it won't happen again.
Adam Kraemer December 07, 2013 at 02:24 PM
I see this a making the local election a defacto partisian election more so then they are now
wohopeful December 07, 2013 at 09:29 PM
"...we thought this was a good thing,” Parisi said....and Hitler said the same thing about the extermination of 6 million people. This is absolutely a political move on the part of Führer Parisi, who has had an abysmal first term and realizes his chances of garnering re-election are almost nonexistent. So he gives himself an extension. Next we can expect that he will cancel elections altogether and tell us it is "a good thing". This was not a good thing for anyone other than Führer Parisi and his puppets.
Lawrence McAbee December 07, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Yes, yes. On top of the normal ridiculous levels of exaggeration, a Hitler reference. Nothing makes an argument look more crackpot than a Hitler reference, but since you went there, a few fuhrer lines as well. Whether or not moving the election is a good or bad thing (and there is logic on both sides), your comments are either a plant for the opposite side of the argument, or just incredibly, incredibly stupid.
Clare Silvestri Krakoviak December 08, 2013 at 07:54 AM
As one of the half-dozen or so residents who spent their Thanksgiving weekend knocking on doors and educating voters about this issue, I assure you the comment about the Nazis is not a “plant for the opposite side of the argument.” We did not have to use hyperbole to convince our neighbors and friends that putting this issue to a referendum made the most sense. We did our research and presented to the council all sorts of valid reasons to, at the very least, slow the process down and, at best, put the question to a public vote. Four other NJ municipalities that faced public opposition to moving the elections have let their citizens decide. Earlier this year, Clifton, a city of 84,000 people, decided to table their ordinance and instead put it to a non-binding referendum when citizens presented a petition of 100 signatures requesting the public vote. And Montclair had more than a year of public debate – including holding a forum with several impartial subject matter experts explaining the pros and cons of the move – which concluded with a council-appointed commission and the Montclair League of Women Voters both recommending against moving the election. It was the mayor in 2011 who proposed the change and strongly backed it. However, at the outset even he admitted it was a complex issue that required a full and informed public discussion, and so he called for the second & final reading of the ordinance not to take place until seven weeks after its introduction. In denying our request for a referendum, the Council President cited ‘law and logic.’ “It’s the law, and we have the ability to do that right now,” she said. Certainly the law allows the council to pass the ordinance, but I believe logic dictates that on an issue which cannot be reversed for 10 years – and then only by ordinance (which means a majority vote of the council) – you err on the side of caution and let the people decide.
john anthony prignano December 08, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Claire - You write, " I assure you the comment about the Nazis is not a "plant for the opposite side of the argument." Here's what I think; You know this because you know wohopeful on a personal level. Nowhere in your post do you in any way whatsoever criticize wohopeful's comments. I have never read any post by wohopeful even remotely like this one. wohopeful, whomever he or she may be, was busily preparing to get personally involved in the May, 2014 municipal elections, hence the indefensible display of baffled fury.
john anthony prignano December 09, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Clare
Bert Peronilla December 09, 2013 at 06:19 PM
What is wrong with making the West Orange municipal election a partisan election? In reality, isn't it already? Would I be too far from a 1.000 batting average if I venture to guess that in the last presidential election, the 5 members of Council voted 4-1 for Obama?
john anthony prignano December 10, 2013 at 10:30 PM
John Mckeon was a dual office holder; A Democratic Assemblyman, and West Orange Mayor, elected as the latter in non - partisan elections. John Skarbnik held two positions simultaneously; Essex County Democratic Party, West Orange Chairman, and West Orange Councilman, also elected as the latter in non - partisan elections. There's more, but I'm quite sure I've made my point.
Bert Peronilla December 12, 2013 at 09:31 AM
John, if I get your point, when John McKeon acts as an Assemblyman, he wears his Democratic wedding band, when he acts as WO Mayor, the wedding band comes off. My point exactly. Why not call a Spade a spade?

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