NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – A petition filed by a group of city residents is calling for the adoption of an ordinance to expand City Council from its current five elected members to seven.
"New Brunswick’s population has grown over the past 50 years by 34 percent and is still growing,” said Keith Jones II, a member of the group calling for the change who is also Chief of Staff to Mayor James Cahill.
“The city is growing and becoming more and more diverse every day," said Jones, a lifelong Hub City resident. "With the submission of this petition, we have a real opportunity for positive change and giving more residents a voice. It’s about us continuing to grow together.”
According to a press release from the group, the city clerk's office has determined the legal sufficiency of the petition and has verified the signatures are those of registered voters of New Brunswick. With this determination, the clerk will report to the City Council at the March 18 council meeting for a first reading of the ordinance.
The ordinance will then be listed for the council at the April 1 meeting for a second reading, at which time the council can choose to adopt, reject or take no action.
New council members would be elected in November.
According to the press release, the current system of five elected council members has been in place since 1970. Prior to that, the city was governed by a board of five city commissioners, and from those five, one was selected by the commissioners to serve as the city’s mayor.
“Adding two more voices to the city council will allow for more dialogue and more input on the critical issues facing New Brunswick,” New Brunswick resident and former City Councilwoman Betsy Garlatti said. “Much like the population of our city has grown, so should the size of its council.”
Sam Beson, a student at Rutgers University, a New Brunswick resident and a member of the committee of the petitioners, said he is excited for what an expansion of the City Council could mean.
“New Brunswick is growing,” he said, “and so should the number of voices that speak on behalf of our residents.”