NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The question of whether to increase the council’s membership from five to seven members will be on the ballot during the Nov. 3 general election.
The date of the vote had not been determined because of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as per order No. 164, elections that were scheduled between July 7 and Nov. 3 have been postponed until Nov. 3.
The ordinance to change the city’s charter was up for a second reading at the April 1 City Council meeting, but there was no motion on Ordinance 032008.
Council President John Anderson then looked to city attorney T.K. Shamy for direction.
“If the council is not inclined to make a motion to deny it, accept it or reject it, statutorily, this ordinance will be placed on the ballot and be decided by the voters at an election in the future,” Shamy said.
Keith Jones II, the chief of staff in Mayor Jim Cahill’s office and a member of the committee of petitioners calls for the change, announced March 13 that a petition had been filed calling for the adoption of an ordinance to expand the council membership.
“New Brunswick’s population has grown over the past 50 years by 34 percent and is still growing,” Jones said in a press release. “The city is growing and becoming more and more diverse every day. 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.”
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 5, one was selected by the commissioners to serve as mayor.
When a resident asked at the April 1 meeting if the council members supported the move to increase the council’s ranks, Anderson said, “I support giving it to the people to decide.”