JERSEY CITY - City Councilman Steven Fulop wants a referendum placed on the upcoming November ballot that will give voters the option to keep Board of Education elections in April or move them to November.
Until this year, school board elections throughout New Jersey have been held in April, while legislative, congressional, and presidential elections have taken place in November. The timing of municipal elections varies. In Jersey City municipal elections are held every four years in May.
Earlier this month Gov. Chris Christie signed a law that allows municipalities to move school board elections from April to November, when voter turnout is likely to be higher. Already, more than 100 New Jersey municipalities have decided to move their board of education elections to November as a result of this law.
However, those who oppose such a move argue that school board races will become more political if they are lumped with other November races and could force school trustee candidates to run on slates with politicians.
"I am personally a proponent of changing the date to November elections because it will increase turnout and cut costs. But I understand both sides of the argument," Fulop said in a statement Monday.
The switch from April to November can be enacted by the local Board of Education, City Council, or by voters through a public referendum.
Fulop said he is planning to work with the Board of Education and City Council to draft a fair ballot question for the November 2012 election.
"I think the residents deciding themselves, rather than the politicians making this decision, is the best approach," Fulop added.
The Jersey City Board of Education has weighed the advantages and disadvantages of moving the school board elections to November, although no decision has been made.
"I have been one [who] thinks April elections are better," said school board trustee Marvin Adames, who supports Fulop's plan for a referendum. "This is a positive approach to working through a tough decision. Empowering residents to decide the direction of the city is always best."