Montclair Petition Rejected, 478 Signatures Disqualified

This just in…in an email sent late this afternoon, town clerk Linda Wanat says she must reject the petition to move the municipal election. The email, sent to Mayor Jerry Fried, town manager Marc Dashield and members of council, explained that after rechecking the petitions, almost 500 were disqualified:

In light of the attention the Council has given to the initiative petition, I asked the staff to recheck all petitions to ensure that they contained the proper certifications including the circulators affidavits stating that they had personally circulated the petition and that all signatures were made in their presence. The staff has just notified me that out of 1439 petition signatures received and verified by this office, a total of 478 could not be used because they were not accompanied by a circulator’s affidavit (NJSA 40:69A-186).

The necessary signatures required to place the question on the ballot was 1372; after disqualifying the 478 only 961 remained eligible for certification. Therefore I must reject the petition pursuant to NJSA 40:69A-188. The defects cannot be cured and no further action will be taken on the petition.

While this news was unexpected, I must take responsibility as the Municipal Clerk for this occurrence and apologize to all those involved in your petition effort.

Talk about dramatic twists and turns. In comments on this post, the certification of signatures was raised by former town manager Joe Hartnett. Expect more discussion at tonight’s Montclair council meeting, 8 p.m., Channel 34.

We tried to reach Mayor Fried before the meeting for comment, but were unsuccessful. However, he ended tonight’s council meeting by quoting Shakespeakere from “As You Like It:

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

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  1. I respect Linda’s integrity in taking the blame. If only the mayor & his cohorts could take some blame for the results of many actions, or inaction, over the past 3 years.

  2. It makes sense to me the moving the school board elections to November would save money and have a better turnout. Can someone explain to me what the objections are?

  3. The issue here, essen, is moving municipal elections — for town council and mayor — to November. The objections range from annoyance that Mayor Fried was pushing this through in time to benefit (he would have gotten an extra six months in office if this were approved in November) to a belief that moving it to November would politicize it.

    I’m in favor of the move, though, and yet still laughing that the mayor bungled this so poorly. What a complete and total buffoon.

    (I’m also in favor of moving school elections, by the way. Not that Montclair voters are allowed to vote on that kind of stuff anyway.)

  4. Linda is a total professional, but she really goofed on this one. She was ready to send this to the ballot a) contrary to state law regarding the timeline of certificaiton; and b) even though it had nearly 500 fewer signatures than it needed. I’m curious whether she felt political pressure (from the mayor or, say, the deputy mayor who regularly drops her babies off for free babysitting courtesy of town employees) to rush through the petition and certify it. Someone should ask this question.

  5. what is going on here?

    The clerk has TWICE said the petition was sufficient for certification and NOW after “rechecking” a THIRD of the signatures are no good and the petition is not sufficient?

    The circus continues.

  6. I wonder why the signatures were not properly checked when the petitions were initially submitted to the clerks office ?

  7. Perhaps, Fried’s threat of a lawsuit had something to do with it.

    “205 Claremont Avenue, where incompetence is the rule of the day.”

  8. Question #8: Did anyone notice that the clerk’s apology states that the petitioners needed 1,372 signatures? Before that, the clerk issued an official statement that they needed 1,284 signatures. Before that, the clerk issued an official statement that they needed 1,160 signatures. Does the public have the right to expect accurate information, even after three tries?

Comments are closed.