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Charter study commission question will appear on Holmdel ballot

HOLMDEL – When residents go to the polls on Nov. 2, they will be asked by the Township Committee if they want to create a charter study commission whose members would examine Holmdel’s current form of government and possibly recommend changes in the township’s form of government.

On Aug. 10, committee members voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance which proposed placing such a question on the Election Day ballot.

Mayor Greg Buontempo, Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber, Committeeman Prakash Santhana and Committeeman D.J. Luccarelli voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance and to place the following question on the Nov. 2 ballot: “Shall a charter commission be elected to study the charter of Holmdel and to consider a new charter or improvements in the present charter and to make recommendations thereon?”

Luccarelli said, “I am voting yes (to place the question on the ballot), but I am not in support of the question. I will vote yes for members of the public to speak their mind (on this issue). I believe our form of government works well.”

Committeeman Tom Critelli voted “no” on the motion to adopt the ordinance and said, “People want to know what (political) party their (elected officials) are.”

Holmdel currently operates under the Township Committee form of government. There are five members of the committee, all of whom are elected at large and generally identified by their affiliation with a political party (i.e., Democrat or Republican).

Holmdel’s mayor is not directly elected by voters, as is the case in municipalities that operate under a different form of government.

Instead, each January, the five members of the Township Committee elect one individual who sits on the governing body to serve as mayor for the year. The mayor runs the Township Committee meetings.

The Nov. 2 ballot question does not state Holmdel will change its current form of government to a nonpartisan form of government if it is approved by a majority of voters.

The question asks voters if a commission should study Holmdel’s charter and consider a new charter or improvements in the present charter.

In a nonpartisan form of government, candidates for elected office do not run under the banner of a political party (i.e., Democrat or Republican).

According to the ordinance, state law “authorizes the governing body to adopt an ordinance submitting a public question to the voters on whether a charter study commission shall be elected to study Holmdel’s current form of government and consider a new charter or improvements in the current charter and make recommendations thereon.”

In the ordinance, the Township Committee members said they believe voters “would benefit from a public question on whether to explore alternative forms of municipal government, including options that provide for the direct election of the mayor, rather than the current system that denies voters that opportunity.”

If the Nov. 2 ballot question is approved by a simple majority vote, a charter study commission comprised of five individuals will be created to study Holmdel’s current Township Committee form of government and to consider a potential new charter.

Interested residents will have the opportunity to run for a seat on the charter study commission. The five members of the charter study commission would be elected by voters who participate in the Nov. 2 election.

If, after studying the matter, the members of the charter study commission recommend a change in Holmdel’s form or government, the recommendation would be submitted to Holmdel voters in a public question at a future election, according to the ordinance.

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