December 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange Township Council voted to move municipal elections to November after a lengthy discussion on the matter. The vote was 4-1, with Councilman Krakoviak voting no.
Several residents shared their thoughts on the switch. Those opposed to the switch said they wanted to vote on the switch; they wanted more time to be spent on the pros and cons of the switch; they suspected political agendas at work. Those in support of the switch cited the successful transition of the Board of Ed elections to November and their confidence in elected employees to make a decision in the best interests of the township, along with the $80,000 savings to the township.
One resident presented a signed petition by 175 residents asking to table the vote or approve a referendum vote. Councilman Krakoviak, in his response to public comment, said that the petition was their “first amendment right” and this was “democracy in action.” He expressed concerns that moving the elections to November would not "equate to more votes."
Mayor Robert Parisi, who was present at the meeting , said that he understood the ‘natural skepticism’ of residents that questioned why the administration would decide to move the elections when they had not in the past. He said that prior to 2010 when Governor Christie changed the laws governing local elections, it was more complicated to move them. In response to Councilman Krakoviak’s concern about voting, he said “there will always be drop-off in any election...the votes for Board of Ed candidates have still been higher since they moved the elections to November.”
Parisi went on to say that he was not ‘ignoring’ the concerns of residents that did not want the municipal elections moved to November, but that he did disagree. “I don’t always agree with my wife,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring her.” He also said that “government can’t come to a stop every time we have to make a decision…everything can’t go to referendum.”
Council President McCartney, Councilman Jerry Guarino, Patty Spango and Victor Cirilo were satisfied that there had been enough time to assess the pros and cons of the move. Ms. McCartney noted that although there was a petition of 175 signatures, that many more residents had expressed their support of the switch.
In other news, the township was recognized for its efforts in achieving Bronze Sustainable Energy Certification. Residents expressed concerns over burned out street lights and excessive leaves in roadways; a Montclair resident complained about alleged WOPD behavior that is under investigation; parents acknowledged the efforts of the township to move polling locations out of the public schools; and Cynthia Hadley-Bailey announced the Annual Kwaanza celebration on December 19 at Washington School.