Jersey City suffers

Dear Editor:
Recently the NJ State Assembly passed legislation which for the first time would empower the Jersey City Council to change municipal elections to be in November when the general elections occur. I understand that Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop is planning to introduce an ordinance to enact this change in Jersey City. I strongly support moving the elections to November and encourage the City Council to do so as well.
Jersey City suffers from a debilitating lack of voter participation. Its due at least in part to this low voter turnout that the specter of corruption has hung over our city for so long as is evident in the indictments that are underway of so many of Jersey City’s elected and appointed officials. One must ask…if more than 18 percent of our city showed up on voting day, would the city face the same problems? When comparing the last general election to the last municipal election, the general election had over 30 percent greater voter participation. Consider what (if any) efforts it would take to accomplish an increase in voter turnout of 30 percent. It’s unfathomable. And it can be accomplished with a simple majority vote of 5 City Council members.
On top of this already compelling argument, consider that consolidating the election dates will save the city as much as $1 million dollars per election cycle. Saving this much money was cause enough for our government to furlough city workers. Certainly this amount should be viewed as a material consideration when weighing the election schedules.
In order for our democracy to be strong, we must continually strive to increase voter participation. If not, we are betraying the very principals under which our nation, state, and city were established. It is clear that keeping municipal elections separate from the general election will prevent the city from achieving a 30 percent increase in voter participation. A vote against this ordinance would be a vote against government by the people and for the people.
Our elected officials must do everything they can to increase citizen participation in our government. In the aftermath of the corruption, greed, and entitlement exposed in 2009, I hope that our City Council will reaffirm that the political process in Jersey City is highly focused on fiscal responsibility and honest representation. I strongly urge our City Council to support the move of municipal elections to November.

Leon Greene
Jersey City, NJ

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