You may have recently received your sample ballot for the Newton Special Election on July 31st, regarding a referendum question about moving the Town Council Elections from May to November. I wanted to give you a few things to consider before voting. I also want to preface this by saying that these thoughts are my own.
In a misguided attempt to exercise their rights under our Faulkner form of government, a committee of petitioners submitted their petition with 369 valid signatures (more than 15% of the votes cast in the last election of the General Assembly) more than 90 days out from a General Election, therefore forcing a special election according to state statute. They were warned of this unintended consequence prior to submitting, and the Council even tried to compromise with them after to avoid the roughly $20,000 special election, but they dug their heels in. The Petitioners took it so far as to file an unsuccessful lawsuit with the NJ Superior Court to try and undo their mistake. This lawsuit cost Newton’s taxpayers even more money. The Petitioners claim their only motivation for wanting to move the election is to increase voter turnout and save money. Hard to believe considering the way this has all turned out.
Newton is the last town left in Sussex County that holds their municipal elections in May. This puts us in the spotlight during our elections, which as the County Seat, I believe is where we should be. This past May over 1,000 informed Newton voters took time to show up and cast their carefully considered votes based on hearing all seven candidates at a debate, reading about them in articles, or speaking with them after answering a knock at their door. This information will most likely be lost during November elections crowded with gubernatorial races, Presidential elections, School Board elections, etc. Additionally, our town absolutely needs to preserve its nonpartisan status. I know the petitioners have reassured that there will be no letters next to the candidates’ names on the ballots, but make no mistake; political parties will try to influence our elections with county, state and national politics if held in November. Newton Town Council members should not be elected based on Red or Blue. All that should matter to the voters is the candidates’ character, experience, integrity, and their ability to put Newton’s best interest first.
Finally, each Newton household would only save $5 every two years by moving the election. That’s it. In my opinion, it is not worth risking these unique qualities of our important town’s elections for $2.50 per year. Vote NO on July 31st.