A May-November Relationship

UPDATE #3: Clerk’s Amended Response Letter to Petitioners

UPDATE #2: Clerk’s Response Letter to Petitioners

The clerk of the Township of Teaneck sent the following response to petitioners on Tuesday, August 17th.

Petitioners have brought suit in Bergen County Superior Court.

In the clerk’s letter, several deficiencies in the petition are noted.

In the lawsuit, the petitioners seem to agree there are deficiencies, but ask the judge to “liberally construe all such petitions“.

We will continue to monitor for developments.

UPDATE: Clerk’s Response Letter to Petitioners

The clerk of the Township of Teaneck received the petition on July 9th.

The review then commenced and his office responded to the petitioners within the 20 days allotted by statute.

The letter below lays out the information as to why his office was not permitted to certify the petition and gives the petitioners 10 days to cure the defects.


Keep Teaneck Non-Partisan

You may have seen them with the clipboard already.  There’s a proposal underfoot to change the way elections are done in town.

Save money and get more people out, what could you possibly have against it?

As far as pitches go, this one is fairly simple – and the clipboard is currently seeking signatures to move Council’s non-partisan elections to November.

But we should remember H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

Why are Non-Partisan Municipal Elections in May?

We moved the election from November to May in 1930, when Teaneck was nearly bankrupted by partisan forces.  Since then, powers in Trenton have tried many times to move back to partisan elections, with a first step of moving the Municipal Elections to November.

Attacks started right away.  By 1938, this was reported:

As of 2021, Teaneck has always resisted the move to November.

In 1942, the Bergen Record published a major editorial entitled: The Battle of Teaneck.

They decried the possibility of a return to partisanship, concluding:

Some 20 years later, here’s what Mayor Matthew “Matty” Feldman had to say in 1962:

“In order to continue attracting the Werner Schmids [ed note: Mr. Schmid was the manager after Paul Volcker reitred], the Clara Christensens and the Marion Browns to Teaneck’s employ, we must maintain our aloofness from partisan politics.

This is not to suggest that Teaneck’s citizens are to isolate themselves from the mainstream of American politics; on the contrary, we have active Democratic and Republican Clubs, and that is all to the good. But we cannot permit the intrusion of these political groups into our Councilmanic elections. Under our form of government, there is no room for politics and this is a concept which we must guard jealously.”

It’s not as if the notion that increasing turnout and absorbing costs weren’t a reality — even back then.

In fact, Mayor Feldman spent a significant portion of his speech talking about declining turnout and options.

“I have to confess that I am more than a little concerned about this Council-Manager government of ours. I can sum up my reaction to last week’s election in one word: disappointment.
Once every four years, the people of Teaneck have an opportunity to make a complete change in administration. This time, more than half of our registered voters stayed home on this most important of days, and this does disappoint me.”

Nor was Mayor Matty shying away from options being presented:

“A number of other improvements in the voting law have been suggested, including one which would stagger the terms of the  Councilmen. [ed note: this happened in 1988] I am open to all suggestions. As a matter of fact, I urge you to submit to me any proposals you have which are designed to get a better and more representative turnout of voters for our municipal elections. Improving the election laws is one of my personal goals during my service as State Senator.”

November election season has turned into the worst possible situation of red and blue teams opposing each other while they sling mud.

Does anyone seriously think that while all the national political mailers are flying around amidst debates from the likes of Trump / Clinton, a comment regarding code updates or road repair would have made it to the list of things worth considering come election day?  Do you imagine any newspaper printing such local stories on the front page?

We have always kept Council elections in May so that non-partisan issues didn’t get lost.  So that people can focus in a way that didn’t get crowded out by group-think, the way November elections do.

Yes, money is a factor and yes, turnout is important.  Those things have always been important.

But through it all, the move to put council elections in November was not worth the cost.

Why didn’t they consider a move to November? 

Mayor Feldman was right then, and he remains right today:

“We must maintain our aloofness from partisan politicsthere is no room for politics and this is a concept which we must guard jealously.”

May-November Relationship: Does the turnout argument have merit?