The movement to have Montclair join the 97% of New Jersey municipalities where voters rather than politicians choose who sits on the local board of education has reached a key milestone, with Township Clerk Angelese Bermúdez Nieves giving official notice that the petition had been declared “sufficient.” This means that, barring a successful legal challenge or some other unforeseen event, the referendum question will be on the ballot on November 2.
The petition required 1,020 valid signatures—15% of the turnout in the last Assembly election—to appear on the ballot. According to the clerk’s official “notice of sufficiency” released yesterday, 1,396 of the 2,004 signature sheets submitted on April 29th were examined, with 1,033 found to be valid.
“This is a thrilling reminder of the power citizens have under the initiative system that is a cornerstone of local democracy in New Jersey,” said Vote Montclair founder Erik D’Amato. “I’d like to thank the Committee of Petitioners, the many volunteers who took time to collect signatures, as well as Township Clerk Bermúdez Nieves and Township Attorney Ira Karasick for keeping it straight.”
A Small-Money Campaign
The effort to put the question of schoolboard democracy on the ballot was wholly the work of local volunteers, and less than 10% of the anticipated budget of $12,000 for seeing the petition through to certification has so far been spent by Vote Montclair. For a detailed look at Vote Montclair’s finances, click here.
Next Up: Municipal Election Reform
With the elected BOE referendum question on its way to the November ballot, Vote Montclair is now exploring the possibility of quickly pivoting to its second key objective, a referendum on moving Montclair’s quadrennial municipal elections from May to November, to increase voter participation and engagement. Volunteers interested in helping out with either effort should reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org.