Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering spread about the recommendations of the Holmdel Charter Study Commission.
The commission has recommended that we move to a council-manager form of government with a five-member council, one of which is the mayor who presides. This structure is the same as the current Township Committee structure.
There is a business manager who has the same responsibilities as the current township administrator, to run the day-to-day operations of the township and to prepare a budget for review and approval by the council. They attend meetings, but do not vote. They are accountable to the council to carry out their policies.
The mayor will be elected directly by the people. There is a suggestion the mayor could preside for a long time. Of course, this can only happen if the people support the mayor and continue to re-elect her or him. Electing the mayor directly gives the power to the people to decide.
Initiative and Referendum serves to give the people an outlet for addressing rogue actions by the council or to pursue broadly supported interests that are not being addressed.
In practice, it is a daunting task to collect enough signatures to get something on the ballot and is rarely used, but it serves as a check on the council to not pursue unpopular initiatives.
There is a suggestion the new form of government will lead to higher taxes and spending. With a council of five members presiding, how is this any different than how we operate today?
Furthermore, referendum will serve as a check on profligate spending and taxation. Clearly with more power to the people, the citizenry will not let this happen.
Let’s be clear. All of this misinformation and fear-mongering is driven by the Monmouth County Republican Party boss and his Holmdel surrogates who are concerned that nonpartisan elections will reduce their power to decide who serves on our council.
Nonpartisan elections will enable more qualified Republican candidates and others to run for council or mayor without having to gain the blessing of the party boss outside of Holmdel.
A “yes” vote will enable Holmdel residents to take back Holmdel for themselves.
Editor’s note: The author of this letter to the editor served as a member of the Holmdel Charter Study Commission. A special election has been scheduled for July 26 during which Holmdel residents will vote on whether or not to accept the commission’s recommendations.