WAYNE, NJ – At the last Town Council meeting, Fifth Ward Councilwoman Fran Ritter’s push to change the public comment portion of the Town Council meetings took a step forward with a vote that narrowly won 4-3.

Part of Ritter’s platform that she ran-on in last year’s election was to give the public a chance to have a semblance of a dialog with the Township government at Town Council meetings, by adapting the current format to allow for two public comment portions.  This way, the people could speak on a subject, hear the council and administration’s responses and then come back up to ask for clarification, or to rebut remarks.   

During the February 19 Town Council meeting, Ritter had submitted a proposed ordinance with language that would update the existing agenda to allow the public to speak a second time, after council comments. The vote on this proposed ordinance was tabled because there was not enough support for it.  See story.

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At last week’s meeting, several people came to the podium to address the Council during the public comments portion of the meeting.  When they were done, a motion was made by First Ward Councilman Rich Jasterzbski to close the public portion. 

Before the motion was seconded, Ritter spoke up: “Acting Council President,” she said to Third Ward Councilman Franco Mazzei who was acting as Council President while current President Joe Scuralli was on medical leave. “I’d like to move to suspend the closure of the public comments until the public hears Council remarks, so that they can respond.”

It went to a vote and won by a slim 4-3 margin.  With Ritter, Jon Ettman, Al Sadowski and David Varano voting ‘Yes,’ and Jasterzbski, Mazzei and Joe Schweighardt voting ‘No.’

Missing at this meeting were Councilwoman-At-Large, Jill Sasso and Scuralli.  Sasso has shown support for this idea in the past but did not like the language of Ritter’s proposed ordinance and did not lend it support publicly. From past actions, Scuralli would not support the change.

With the support on the vote, Ritter’s push for this change, may have taken a step forward.

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