Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 1, 2020

On Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 at 6:00 pm, the Teaneck Council will hold the semi-annual reorganization meeting at the Teaneck Town Hall.
(Agenda available here: Reorganization Agenda)
We will be swearing in Mark Schwartz, Karen Orgen & Mike Pagan.

In addition, Council will elect the Mayor & Deputy Mayors, among others.

For those that may not be familiar with the way the Teaneck Council operates, I’d like to offer some additional information:

How does our system work?
Teaneck utilizes the Council-Manager form of Government under the Faulkner Act.  What that means in practice is that residents choose their council-members “at-large” (i.e. you vote for everyone, as opposed to a ward system like neighboring Englewood) and the Council as a body, once elected and seated, chooses a mayor from among the council-members (as opposed to municipalities where the Mayor runs separately). Continue reading “Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 1, 2020”

Vote By Mail — How Did it Work? What Can Be Fixed?

The Covid-19 Pandemic has upended many of the ways we conduct our lives.  In the May municipal elections, polls were replaced with envelopes.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts, not all envelopes were given the same treatment.

Worse, still, it’s impossible to know how many envelopes did not arrive.  It’s not as if you can just count what didn’t show up.

In an effort to find out what worked and what didn’t, I requested information from the Bergen County Board of Elections, as to what ballots arrived and what didn’t. The staff and administration at the BOE have been helpful and worked hard to help explain the system.  They expressed a profound amount of concern for ensuring the system runs as smooth as possible and that every vote is counted.  They do a tremendous amount of work under very strict rules and tight time-frames.

Changes in the systems created issues

It seems that NJ has a new interface between two independent systems, which created some hiccups in reporting and coordination.  The County Board of Elections system feeds information into the State Voter Registration System (SVRS).  I spoke with the head of the County system as well as the head of the State system.  That integration, to put it mildly, is not seamless.

Areas for focus:

Two problematic areas which require more review are:

  1. Ballots which disappeared
  2. Ballots which were rejected

How many ballots disappeared?

Continue reading “Vote By Mail — How Did it Work? What Can Be Fixed?”

A New Council

Unofficial Results, pending certification for the May, 12, 2020 municipal election:

Congratulations  to everyone that ran and I look forward to working with the new council on July 1st.

Pagan 5,115
Schwartz 5,089
Orgen 5,076
Belcher 4,750
Gerzsberg 4,657
Walser 4,618

Who will be on Council?

Teaneck’s municipal government operated under the Council-Manager form of the Faulkner Act.

We (residents) elect seven members to a council and they choose a manager who is tasked with the day-to-day operation of the Municipality.

Since 1988, Teaneck residents go to the polls in staggered council elections in even numbered years to choose members who serve 4-year terms.

This week, 3 of the 7 council seats were up, and in two years, the remaining 4 will be voted on by residents.

After each election, the newly constituted group will meet on July 1st at a “Re-Organization Meeting” to determine a Mayor and other positions.

Each of the 7 members of council represent everyone in the municipality.

[As one of your representatives, I will do my best to respond with information to any inquiries received]

Click here for contact Info for current council-members

Who will be Mayor/Deputy Mayor?  Does it go to the person with the highest vote tally?

Not necessarily. Continue reading “A New Council”

Law is hard

When one starts to review laws, either on a local or state basis, the complexity factor is readily apparent.  There are many layers, tweaked over the decades (and sometimes centuries) which make legal counsel a requirement, even to understand what otherwise look like simple words.

Take this example:

“The commission shall consist of not less than five nor more than seven members, appointed by the mayor of the municipality…”

Source: NJSA 40:56A-1

Who does the appointing?

  1. The Mayor, Mohammed Hameeduddin
  2. The Council
  3. The Manager, Dean Kazinci

If you answered, the Mayor, you probably aren’t alone.  But you’d be wrong. Continue reading “Law is hard”

Mail-In Ballot FAQs

Have another question?  Send me an email
Here are answers to some of the questions I’ve received so far based on my calls with election officials at the County Board of Elections
  1. What happens if I tore the certificate off of my envelope?
    As you can see in my instructional video, the mail-in ballot contains two envelopes. The ballot goes in the first (with a voter certification and then that goes in a larger envelope to mail back. If the certification rips off, simply put it with the smaller envelope inside the larger envelope. Do NOT attempt to tape it back.

  2. What happens if my family is away and cannot sign their ballot?
    In America: If the registered Teaneck voter is America (e.g. sheltering in place in NY or FL), they must obtain and sign the physical ballot.
    Outside America: If the registered Teaneck Voter is sheltering in place overseas (e.g. gap year program or in Europe), there is a Federal Program called the Federal Post Card Application (FCPA) available at
    https://www.fvap.gov/ where you may apply for and vote electronically.
  3. What happens if my application doesn’t arrive at the County by May 14th?
    The date for acceptance of ballots is set by the State and the County Board of Elections does not have discretion to move the deadline.  Ballots may be brought to the county, but the building is not open to the general public and an appointment must be made in advance.
  4. What happens if I damage or throw away my ballot?
    You may call the County Board of Elections at (201) 336-7020.  They are capable of generating and sending a new ballot, but you must call with enough time for it to arrive.  The clerk suggests at least 6 days in advance.
  5. Got another question?  Let me know and I’ll try to find you an answer…..
Additional information available at: MovingTeaneckForward.com/vote/

Why study history? So we aren’t doomed to repeat it.

This week, Teaneck Today published information about the Democratic Municipal Committee creating an “ad hoc committee”. In an email from the Chair of the TDMC, she said the purpose of the committee was to “explore[] the limitations and rights of the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee to participate in n on-partisan municipal elections

You can read more about the issue and participate in the discussion at the link: here

Seeking to change longstanding rules isn’t something that should be taken likely.  Political powers wax and wane.  And while this may seem like a move that would help some today, it may not be so desirable, tomorrow.

It’s worth remembering that this isn’t a new idea, either.

From the minutes of Council on June 11, 2008:

C. Kates agreed with C. Feit.  C. Kates does not think it is coincidental of the challengers to be representatives of a certain group.  Hopes Teaneck remembers that it is a nonpartisan professionally managed community.  C. Kates spoke about the County politics influencing Teaneck, the shared vision of African Americans and Jewish people in the fight for civil rights and that she feels the community does not trust the Council. Recommends the Advisory Board on Community Relations needs to be more involved and Council needs to use them.

Do we want to go down this road, Teaneck?

Nominating Petitions for 2020 Municipal Election Available Beginning Thursday, January 2, 2020

Nominating Petitions for 2020 Municipal Election Available Beginning Thursday, January 2, 2020

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Doug Ruccione, Acting Township Clerk
Telephone:  (201) 837-1600, ext. 1025
Email:  clerk@teanecknj.gov

Nominating Petitions for 2020 Municipal Election Available Beginning Thursday, January 2, 2020 Continue reading “Nominating Petitions for 2020 Municipal Election Available Beginning Thursday, January 2, 2020”