If there are no legal challenges or other changes, you can expect to see a referendum question on the ballot on November 2, asking Montclair voters if they want an elected Board of Education.
The Vote Montclair movement has been a push to have voters decide if Montclair will join the 97% of New Jersey municipalities that have an elected Board of Education.
Township Clerk Angelese Bermúdez Nieves gave official notice Friday that the Vote Montclair petition had been declared “sufficient,” according to Vote Montclair. 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, 1,033 were 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.”
Vote Montclair is also exploring the possibility of another referendum — one that would allow voters to decide whether to move Montclair’s municipal elections from May to November, with a goal of increasing voter participation and engagement.
In March, the League of Women Voters released a statement in favor of maintaining an appointed BOE in Montclair, adding that past referenda on this issue were held in 1963, 1969, 1971, 1995 and, most recently, 2009 – and all were unsuccessful.
According to an initial survey conducted by Vote Montclair, more than three out of four respondents (77%) said they favored an elected BOE, with 13% saying they were unsure, and 9% saying they were in favor of retaining an appointed board.
The Township of Montclair has not released any statement, but Councilor At Large Peter Yacobellis had this to say in response to learning the news Friday:
“I first want to congratulate Vote Montclair for a well executed effort. I love seeing democracy in action. This is a very complex, serious and historical issue and I hope that Montclair residents truly take the time to understand the arguments and make educated decisions. To that end, I’ve been in conversation with several organizations and individuals in town in hopes of ensuring we can produce debate and educational forums this fall. I also hope all Montclair residents make sure they are registered to vote and have a plan to vote to ensure that each and every voice is heard on this matter. I have not taken a position on this issue and do not intend to until I’ve spent enough time listening to the arguments, studying our history, and considering the impact a change of this magnitude can have.”