Are you Confused Highlands?


At Wednesday Nights Council meeting, If you tune into the streamed meeting and fast forward to the 5.28 minute mark you hear about O-147-7 (Moving the nonpartisan elections back to November after the initial May election, which ultimately would horse quotesave the town money.) You remember the Non-Partisan thing right? 728 of you voted for it last November. That thing that takes out the Democrat and Republican labels off at the local level and opens up the candidate pool to others wanting to run for office. The initial election has to happen in May, then its totally feasible to move back to November.

Well, Councilman Francy offered up the ordinance to do this, and nobody seconded it. {crickets} Kind of weird since both Council woman’s Kane and Ryan back in November erected signs AGAINST the non-partisan with the premise that moving the election to May would just cost the town too much money.  Apparently they are not concerned about the money now.

But it gets better.. fast forward to the 24.15 min mark in the streamed meeting and watch to about the 26 min mark. Their rationale for crickets is, “Many people [contacted various council members] on moving the election and thought {the whole non-partisan thing} was just really confusing.”

First off, the online agenda that was put up early Wednesday morning, didn’t even include the proposed ordinance so who knew it was agenda feb19going to be offered up to proactively voice their confusion?  Second, 728 people weren’t confused on the movement or the election process in November, so it’s quite presumptuous on the council’s part to assume that most Highlanders are “confused”. Maybe I just have more faith in the intelligence of my fellow residents than they do.

When pressured on it, the council back peddled that them not moving it forward on it Wednesday night didn’t mean they were never going to move it forward, it just meant they were going to wait until sometime after the first election as to not  confuse us simpleton Highlanders.

If you are NOT confused, I suggest you write an email to the council with the subject line “I AM NOT CONFUSED”

Mayor
Frank Nolan mayornolan@highlandsnj.us
Council President
Rebecca Kane councilwoman.kane@highlandsnj.us
Councilman
Kevin Redmond councilman.redmond@highlandsnj.us
Councilman
Christopher Francy councilmanfrancy@highlandsnj.us
Councilwoman
Tara Ryan councilwoman.ryan@highlandsnj.us

27 thoughts on “Are you Confused Highlands?

  1. Carolyn

    Well, I’m not usually one who has trouble expressing myself, but last night I was dumb stuck, almost literally .  The casual way this was brushed aside citing “confusion” was at once ridiculous as well as infuriating.  Does council really think so little of our ability to reason that we don’t “understand” we can move an election date?  Last I checked we all made it past 1st grade.

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  2. duncan mcleod

    firstly sending any emails to any of the council members is a complete waste of time. They don’t listen anyway and if they respond it will only be lip service. secondly if they are trying to move the date of the nonpartisan election it is not because of any so called confusion but because there is some benefit to them to do so.

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  3. Rockemsockem

    They are purposely trying to confuse people. It’s a feeble attempt to hold on to their little piece of power. They have shown their lack of respects for all the taxpayers in this town by this ignorant chess move, It speaks volumes that they don’t really care about what benefits the people who voted for this but that they care only about their own selfish wants. I say step aside and let fresh blood in if you really care otherwise stop with the pretense you do.

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    1. Rockemsockem

      Just. BtW you could not get in touch with anyone when people needed assistance during snow storms but some how people were able to reach them to express their confusion over elections.

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  4. Ed

    It’s a numbers game. Far fewer people participate in elections that occur in May than in November. Most of those who DO make the special effort to come out to vote in May are party members who are loyal to either one side or the other. By keeping the election in May, those already in power have a better chance of keeping the current status quo without risk of a independent candidate coming in and screwing up the sacred two-party system.

    Politicians in power only want to argue with each other in “black and white” conversations. Introducing a “gray” point of view would be too confusing for them.

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  5. NoLongerNew

    I think the real confusion stems from our own council not understanding the Faulker Act. No, I don’t expect them to be experts on every single piece of it, but at a minimum they’ve had 3+ months to become familiar with what is going to happen in our town with our elections. Maybe they did’t think it would pass in November so they never bothered to read it or understand it before it was voted on. But wouldn’t it be prudent for all five of them to understand it fully so that THEY can explain it to their “confused” constituents?

    If you called a council member and said you were confused, I applaud you for speaking up and trying to understand it. There’s a heck of a lot of legalese in the Faulker Act. But for our own council to not be able to explain this to you in layman’s terms is baffling. How are they not embarrassed at their own lack of understanding at this point in time? Is the council’s confusion due to the town attorney not clearly explaining it to them? And if so, why are they not continuing to pepper him with questions until they DO understand it?

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  6. Misha

    What’s the problem? I am confused b/c nonpartisan elections passed in November whereby there would be another election in May – so the problem is???????.

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    1. highlandsblog Post author

      The issue is, after the initial nonpartisan election in May, (which needs to happen regardless) Highlands United proposed to move the non-partisan elections back to Nov (which after the initial election is allowed) to save the town money, and ask Francy to offer up the ordinance but received no support from the rest of the council. And the response back to HU (and you can look it up on the recorded session) was because residents were confused over this and proactively voiced their concern over moving the elections back to Nov so the council want to keep May elections (for the time being to avoid confusion with residents).

      IMO,it sounds like a crock, there is no reason *not* to move back to Nov elections after the first one.

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  7. Carol Bucco

    Carol
    The confusion was in November’s vote to bring back non-partisan elections. The previous voting never disallowed independents to run on the ballot it was the independents who didn’t file on time to get their names on the ballot and therefore had to run as write – ins. Anyone could have had their name printed on the ballot in a partisan election and could have had a choice of columns as well. I believe Ryan Britton ran as an independent and had his name printed on the ballot and when Becky and Chris run in May although they won’t be labeled as Democrats the whole town already knows they are. Maybe Hilary’s famous phrase heard around the world applies here, “what difference does it make”. It is going to come up so quickly no one will have any idea of any of the candidate’s real issues or platforms.

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    1. highlandsblog Post author

      This isn’t about allowing a plethora of Independents to run, its about allowing “other” republicans AND democrats to run that weren’t apart of the good ole boys network that exists in Highlands. 728 people didn’t want the status quo choosing their candidates any more. (Especially after Sandy) At a local level its not about setting partisan policy, its about effective management. So the R & D labels are really not relevant. Most people understand that and agree, hence Highlands United getting 728 votes for a non-partisan government.

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    2. NoLongerNew

      The town seems to have almost as many undeclared voters as R’s & D’s. No one ever asked me about running for council. Only when I declared a party to vote in a primary was I then hounded relentlessly to run. Things that make you go, “Hmmmm….”

      Also, people seem to change parties in this town as the wind blows so that they’d have the blessing of one party or another. When they pissed off both parties they ran as an independent. So really, what’s the big deal about non-partisan elections?

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  8. Doug Card

    Interesting … does our council realize that the NJ State Legislature passed a resolution on this very issue? Adopted in Jan. 2013. The hard read of the Faulkner Act has nothing to do with the month that elections are held … and the State of NJ ENCOURAGES MUNICIPALITES TO HOLD NON-PARTISAN ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER. Highlands Council can easily pass an Ordinance to non-partisan elections in November. It’s a no-brainer. Any continued attempt by our governing body to roadblock this encouraged change, and to ignorantly play the ‘confused’ Faulkner angle only validates the very reason that Highlanders voted for non-partisan to begin with.

    ASSEMBLY JOINT RESOLUTION No. 15
    STATE OF NEW JERSEY 215th LEGISLATURE

    Municipalities governed by the provisions of the “Uniform 29 Nonpartisan Elections Law,” are encouraged to move their nonpartisan elections from May to November pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2009, c.196 (C.40:45-7.1).

    This joint resolution encourages all municipalities governed by the provisions of the “Uniform Nonpartisan Elections Law,” to move their nonpartisan elections from May to November, under the provisions of P.L.2009, c.196, in an effort to reduce municipal cost, provide taxpayer savings, and increase participation in the democratic process afforded to all eligible voters in this State.

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  9. BayAveBabs

    I feel bad for Chris Francy being hung out there. He’s often the only one in that group with normal sensibility. Doesn’t fit in w the others self-serving agendas. Just my thought…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. prayingmantis

      The question to ask is if the three year bar for further changes once a change has been adopted by voters would apply to changing the date of the election. If so it can only be moved by another voter initiative and not by the Council. I think everyone would like to have it be in November.

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  10. dougcard4highlands

    praying mantis …. after this May election it only requires an ordinance by the Council to move the future elections to November. It would not require another voter initiative UNLESS if the Council does not pass an ordinance even if the voters feel strongly that it should be changed … then their only recourse would be to petition and have it placed on the ballot for a town vote.

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    1. barbara iannucci

      my bad … the doug card to praying mantis post was written by me (Barbara) … the computer defaulted to doug’s name.

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    2. Rockemsockem

      Just watched council meeting and 10% tax hike? Mayor says he would pay 600 to1000 more for more cops to cope with herion problem. Not sure what people on limited incomes are supposed to do as their income won’t rise 10%. Also whose substandard property are taxpayers paying to be demolished for 20k. I would like to see that list . Lastly, I don’t think town should award any business to fix drain at Captain Coves whose family blatantly ignores code enforcement and disrespects other residents and their property value. Thats rewarding bad behavior.

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    3. barbara iannucci

      With Heroin being such an epidemic isn’t there a County Task Force that can get involved without the need for hiring additional cops? As for the 10% tax hike … did they quantify what items (or costs) are involved to warrant a tax hike?

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    4. Rockemsockem

      Honestly was hard to for me to hear all the details on my mobile you should check out video.

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    5. NoLongerNew

      I think they said a good portion of it has to do with debt service. I guess we have to pay back some loans or bonds related to Sandy?

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  11. barbara iannucci

    thanks … I have 2 videos to catch up on. Maybe it has to do with Sewer Authority and debt owed to Atlantic Highlands to get out of our partnership there.

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  12. prayingmantis

    Barbara – It is very clear that no changes can be made except by further referendum regardless of what recommendations the state legislature makes….

    II. Initiative (NJSA 40:69A-184 to 40:69A-196)
    ……..”If majority of the voters is in favor of the proposed ordinance, it becomes a valid and binding ordinance of the municipality. No such ordinance shall be amended or repealed within three years immediately following the date of its adoption by the voters, except by a vote of the
    people. During the 3 years immediately following the date of the adoption of the ordinance, the
    municipal council may submit a proposition for the repeal or amendment of that ordinance to the
    voters at any general or regular municipal election held during that period.”

    We have to wait for three years if its to be done by Council or it can be earlier if it is place on the ballot.

    A further interesting issue is this. We have not designated if the non-partisan elections will have a runoff i.e. majority rule, or no runoffs i.e. plurality rule. It is my understanding that this should have been included as a separate item in the non-partisan ballot. That there is no default system. However I imagine that Highlands’ borough attorney will have to figure out which is the default in the absence of a clear direction. Either way this also can’t be changed for three years either unless it goes to the voters.

    The Small Municipality Plan (NJSA 40:69A-115 to 40:69A-132)

    “In all instances, a municipality operating under a small municipality plan shall be governed by a
    municipal council which is elected at large and chaired by the mayor. Beyond this similarity, the
    following options are available to a municipality adopting the small municipality plan:

    I. Basis of Elections
    A. Partisanship
    1. partisan elections (in November)
    2. nonpartisan elections (in May)
    B. Runoff Elections (applies only to nonpartisan elections)
    1. majority rule (requires runoffs in some instances)
    2. plurality rule (no runoffs; candidates with the greatest number of votes
    win)”

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    1. highlandsblog Post author

      The Council could have offered an Ordinance calling for a voter referendum at the May election (but that didn’t happen) OR residents could have petitioned for a voter referendum at the next election in May (which because the council didn’t offer up the Ordinance until it was too late to petition for the May election it will have to wait until the November election.)

      See N.J.S.A. 40:69A-196(a); see also N.J.S.A. 40:45-7.1 and N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184.

      Any candidate(s) need a simple majority to be elected to the respective open offices.

      See N.J.S.A. 40:45-17.

      If two or more persons receive an equal number of votes, the office they seek shall be deemed vacant. See N.J.S.A. 19:3-25; see also N.J.S.A. 40A:16-3(H).

      If the office is deemed vacant because of a tie, the Borough Clerk shall fix a date for a special election to fill the office for its term. See N.J.S.A. 40A:16-16.

      The run-off election laws would not apply because it was not posed to the voters by petition or adopted by ordinance by the council.

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    2. barbara iannucci

      Quite confusing to say the least in how this non-partisan intent will go down with candidate(s)… which seems to imply they can pair together in brackets. Does the non-partisan election law stated above mention or even allow that?

      So if pairing up is allowed … I ask this hypothetically – if a majority equals 51 (out of 100 votes) – and you have candidate(s) petitioning in brackets (with 2 names paired under an identical tagline). And one in the bracket gets 20 votes & the other in the same bracket gets 31 votes ……. whereas a third candidate not bracketed (or paired up) might get 49 votes. What happens?

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    3. Rockemsockem

      Perhaps if town would have hired a grant writer upfront there would not be so much debt as it seems by last council meeting there are numerous grants that we definitely qualify for. We are a year and a half after Ssndy and just doing that…. It’s mind boggling! Who is running for council in May for sure?

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