Sussex County News

Newton Council Candidates Call for Elections to be Moved

Newton Town Council Credits: Jennifer Dericks

NEWTON, NJ – Four candidates for the Town of Newton Council have the same idea; move the election for council members to the November general elections.  Candidates Matt Dickson and Jason Schlaffer and Ludmilla Mecaj and Wayne Levante just do not agree on how to make that happen.

As a Faulkner Act town, Newton originally established their non-partisan elections to be held separately from national and state elections.  Any effort to change that must adhere to a strict timeline, spelled out in the Faulkner Act. 

The simplest way to move the date is for the council members to vote to have it moved.  Currently it appears three members, Deputy Mayor Kevin Elvidge, Councilwoman Sandra Diglio and Councilman Daniel Flynn are against the move.

Sign Up for E-News

At the council meeting on Monday night Flynn lashed out at the mayor when Levante said he supported moving it.

“I’ve asked you multiple times to bring it up but you haven’t,” Flynn said.

Flynn opposes Levante’s efforts to move the election. “His motive now is to change it to November as step one, ultimately changing the form of government to one with a stronger mayor,” Flynn said in an interview.  “Neither of which I am in favor of.”

Mecaj has proposed a petition campaign to make the change.  This is supported by Levante. 

Petitions are a way for registered voters to force an issue to be dealt, with under the Faulkner Act.  The act has specific timelines and requirements for this process.

Per the Faulkner Act, a committee of petitioners, with at least five members, must get signatures of registered voters. 

In the last General Assembly election, Newton had 1,871 votes cast, according to Municipal Clerk Lorraine Read. It is important to know that 15 percent of that number is 281, and 10 percent is 187.  Those numbers affect the process, as will be explained.

Whether the petition will be considered at a general or regular municipal election or at a special election depends on two things; the number of signatures on the petition and deadlines established by the Faulkner Act for the final withdrawal of the petition, according to Read. 

After signatures are collected, the petition committee submits them to the municipal clerk.  The clerk must certify the petition and signatures within 20 days of receipt.  If the petition is found to be deficient, needing additional signatures or other corrections, the clerk notifies at least two of the members of the petition committee, according to the Faulkner Act, Read said.

The petition committee has 10 days to make the corrections and resubmit to the clerk. The clerk then has five days to review. 

If it remains deficient the petition committee is notified and there is no further action.  If the clerk certifies the petition it is then passed on to the town council, according to Read, citing N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184, et seq.

The town council has 20 days to take action on an ordinance.  In this case the ordinance would be to move the election of council members to coincide with the general election in November.

If the council approves the ordinance, the date is moved and no further action is required.

If the council fails to take action or fails to approve the ordinance there are three options: 

  • The petition committee could withdraw the petition within 10 days (of the expiration of the council’s 20 days or their no vote).  This requires four of the five petition committee members’ signatures.
  • If the petition is not withdrawn and has 281 or more signatures the question goes to a vote at a general, municipal or special election.
  • If the petition is not withdrawn and has between 187 and 250 signatures it goes to a vote at the next general or municipal election.

But it is not that simple according to some of the candidates. The contention between Levante and Mecaj and Dickson and Schlaffer is whether or not a petition would force a costly special election.  Read said a special election would cost approximately $18,000.

If there are at least 281 signatures but a general or municipal election is not scheduled between 40 and 90 days after the date the petition could have been withdrawn, the town council is required to provide a special election.  The special election must be held between 40 and 60 days from the withdrawal date. 

The dates relevant to Newton in this case is the general election scheduled for November 6, 2018. August 8 is 90 prior.  To get the question on the November ballot, the withdrawal date must be after August 8, if the petition has 281 signatures.  

In turn that means, the council must get the petition by July 9. They have to take action by July 29 or 20 days.  If rejected by council, the petition committee has 10 days to withdraw, which August 8.

If there are 187 signatures, then there is no option for a special election.  The question must be placed on the ballot of the next general or municipal election, as long as it is 40 days after the last day to withdraw the petition. 

Levante said the process is designed to protect the petitioners.  He said after the council gets the petition from the municipal clerk “negotiating begins, like with a contract.”  

Levante said a special election would not be needed because the petition has a date for the election included in the language.  The date is November 6, the general election.  Levante believes that would eliminate the need for a special election.  There does not appear to be language in the Faulkner act to support this view. To avoid a special election the petition need only have fewer than 281 signatures.  

Elvidge said he did not want to move the election because he wanted the council elections to remain non-partisan.

The Newton Board of Education elections were moved to November and they have remained non-partisan a resident in the audience told TAPinto.

It appears the four candidates all want the same thing; to move the town council elections to the November elections.  The way to get there could be as easy as a council vote.  It could be more difficult through the petition process, but still possible.  

The Town of Newton Council elections will be held on May 8.  A field of seven candidates will be on the ballot this year:

  • Matthew Dickson,
  • Sandra Diglio,
  • Kevin Elvidge,
  • Wayne Levante,
  • Alex Majewski, 
  • Ludmilla Mecaj and
  • Jason Schlaffer.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Drunk Brooklyn Man Asks Police to Shoot Him

May 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Brooklyn man was taken for observation when he asked police to shoot him after having crashed his car down an embankment on County Road 517 near the Sparta Middle School.  On May 17 around 2:06 a.m. Sparta Police Officers Brian Porter and Timothy Lynott found Joshua Lindland of Brooklyn asleep in the driver’s seat of a gray Audi against a tree, police ...

Sparta Police: Passengers Face Drug Charges in Traffic Stop

SPARTA, NJ – Two Wantage women face drug charges after the car they were in was stopped for a broken headlight on Route 15.  On May 5 around 2 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin pulled over Alex Torres, 22, driving a white Honda Accord with two passengers, police say.

The officer saw a metal marijuana grinder behind the driver’s seat.  The car and ...

JCP&L Latest Information, Free Ice and Water

SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – As of 8:47 p.m. JCP&L is reporting 12,745 customers or 22.11 percent, are without power in Sussex County.  In Sparta 2749 or 32 percent remain in the dark.

JCP&L said they anticipate the “vast majority of the remaining customers to be restored to service by late Thursday.”

JCP&L customers without power can get ice and water ...

Ethical Or Political Stunt

May 20, 2018

On May 9th Sussex County Freeholder Director Jonathon Rose announced formation of the Sussex County Transparency Committee. A committee established to monitor the ethics of County politicians.  

Alarming is what was left out of this announcement. Besides naming the dynamic duo Lazzaro and Graham, two other names show cause for curiosity. Jonathon never acknowledged, nor did he ...

Support for Fantasia and Hertzberg for Freeholder

Dear Editor:

My name is Stephen Skellenger, and I’m writing what is my first Letter to the Editor to emphatically endorse Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholder. With these two, you are going to get uniquely-qualified individuals who exemplify servant leadership.

Josh is someone who seems to me to be a person who would give the shirt off his back to help anyone.

Upcoming Events


Sun, May 20, 10:00 AM

Hayke's Market, Newton

Newton Community Blood Drive

Health & Wellness


Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, June 9, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 16, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Newton's Petition to Move Election Certified, Tabled to May 30 by Council

May 15, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The petition to move elections from May to November was certified by the clerk and presented to the Newton Town Council at the meeting on Monday night.  The petition has been circulating since April and was a point of controversy in the recent council election campaigns.

According to the town attorney, the town clerk certified “369 valid signatures of qualified ...

10-Year Old Boy Battling Cancer Receives Generous Donation From Randolph Hockey Family

May 20, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real life battles off the ice there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the Randolph Varsity hockey team, when they came together to deliver good wishes and ...

Find Your Dream Home During Our DOUBLE Open House Weekend!

The forecast for this weekend is rain, rain, and more rain---so why not spend your time touring your new home?  Team Nest Builder offers 2 wonderful Open Houses this weekend, PLUS a new listing for you to check out via video tour!

27 Hilltop Trail, Sparta

Step into your own fairytale with this Lake Mohawk, storybook-sweet 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom gem! Gather in front of the rustic ...

Help Feed Hungry Sussex County Families Through Foodstock

Did you realize food pantry shortages INCREASE during the summer months? Decreased donations and increased need due to the summer break from school lunch and breakfast programs leave many Sussex County families hungry.  

Enter Foodstock:  an annual spring countywide food drive started 15 years ago through the coordinated efforts of Pass it Along, United Way of Northern New Jersey, ...

3 Tips for Making Your Home-Ownership Dream a Reality


Here's Highlights:

Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check = one of the best ways to save without thinking much about it.

Living within a budget right now helps you save money for down payments while also paying down other debts holding you back.  What are you willing to cut back on to make your dreams of homeownership ...

New Data Shows May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home

According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May nets you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home.

For the study, ATTOM performed an “analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017” and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month:

ATTOM even ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

We Do This Work Because We Care

May 19, 2018

Sussex NJ – We Do This Work Because We Care

Project Help, Inc., is a 501(c)3 Charity whose mission is to help veterans and their families during difficult times. They assist veterans in New Jersey’s seven northern counties in getting back on their feet. 

“We work very hard to be able to sustain our veterans as they struggle with the many issues that are holding them ...