Hoboken petition will Let the People Decide when to hold municipal elections


November petition effort will let the Hoboken people decide when municipal elections are held

A petition circulating last weekend proposes a November referendum this fall giving voters in the coming presidential election a choice on when to hold Hoboken municipal elections.  Those elections are currently scheduled for May next spring.

If approved, the referendum will move municipal elections scheduled from May to later in the fall in November.

Separately, a second petition proposes ending runoff elections eliminating a costly expenditure for both taxpayers and candidates.  Three at-large council seats and the mayor would be affected in any switch likely decided this November by Hoboken voters.  If voters approve the measures, their terms would be extended in the one time switch from May to November next year.

A similar effort was announced last week and is backed for the state capital Trenton by a citizen good government group and the editorial board of the Trenton Times.  The newspaper noted November municipal elections would save money, remain non-partisan and increase voter participation as May elections have shown dwindling voter turnout.

Both petitions are likely to obtain the needed votes to appear on the ballot come November.  The number of signatures required to make the ballot is in the thousand range with a deadline the middle of August.

The Old Guard is expected to show extreme displeasure as they did when the BoE elections were moved to November earlier this year.  Last February, they turned out in force complaining vociferously the Kids First majority voiced support in joining the vast majority of NJ school boards in moving to November elections.  Statewide 90% of elected school boards decided to make the move.

At that time, the Old Guard preferred to hold a referendum this fall on whether BoE elections should be held in November.  But voters are expected to turn out in far bigger numbers at the polls voting in the BoE election in this presidential year making the very question moot.

It’s unknown how much Hoboken will save in a move to November municipal elections but it’s likely to be similar to Trenton where officials anticipate it will be in the neighborhood of $140,000.

A signatory to the petition effort, Hoboken resident Vijay Chaudhuri said in a statement, “Consolidating elections and eliminating the runoff are clear cut common sense solutions that will benefit residents and save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for years to come.”

A petitioner discusses the ballot initiative with a Hoboken resident in consideration for moving municipal elections to November.   A second petition would end runoff elections as part of a dual referendum action if approved.  The two petitions are part of an effort  that will Let the People Decide when to hold Hoboken municipal elections.

The three at-large council seats are currently held by reform oriented members allied with Mayor Dawn Zimmer: Ravi Bhalla, Carol Marsh and Dave Mello.

Before the petitions become ballot referendums, it’s possible legal action may intervene preventing the people from deciding.  Councilwoman Beth Mason has often been the source of funding for Old Guard measures but it’s unclear if that will be the case in this instance.

Talking Ed Note: MSV has seen the hoopla in the spring for elections but in the end, it’s the more traditional November elections most are attuned.


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