After council vote, Hoboken local elections may not move to November after all

HOBOKEN – Maybe the voters won’t decide on when Election Day will be in Hoboken.
City Council members voted 8-0-1 on Saturday morning in a special meeting to begin the process of repealing an ordinance that moved municipal elections from May to November. The measure needs to be approved at a second meeting after a public hearing in order for the repeal to be completed. Councilwoman Theresa Castellano abstained from the vote on Saturday.
The City Council majority that was allied with Mayor Dawn Zimmer voted in July to move municipal elections from May to November, citing a potential increase in voter turnout and a cost savings for the city. The local elections would be aligned with the November elections when voters usually go to the polls for gubernatorial and national races.
Critics of the change see the move as a power grab, as Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the entire council would receive a one-time term extension of six months. The move is allowed by state law, and council members are not permitted to shorten their terms to the previous November. Other observers have said the move could potentially benefit Zimmer’s allies, who appeal to the city’s newcomer population that might not come out to vote in May when only the mayor and council are up for election.
After the measure passed by a 5-4 margin in July (with Zimmer’s five allies voting in favor of the change), a committee of petitioners led by some of Zimmer’s opponents took to the streets and gathered more than 2,500 signatures in order to place the issue on the ballot in the form of a referendum. That way, the voters could decide this November if elections should move.
The petitioners needed approximately 2,100 signatures, or 15 percent of the voting population in the last general Assembly election. Once a successful petition was submitted, the council could either allow the measure to go to the ballot for the public to decide or repeal the legislation. The council is expected to complete the repeal of the legislation at a special meeting later this month.
But will they reintroduce it at some point? That fact remains to be seen. — Ray Smith

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