Voters in Jersey City may get a second chance to derail plans to move the municipal elections from May to November.
Earlier this month, a non-binding referendum was narrowly approved by voters as a supposed test of public sentiment. The City Council still has to decide whether to move the election.
The supposed justification for the move would be to improve voter turn out for municipal elections and to save money. Critics, however, pointed out that turnout for the previous May municipal election actually exceeded the November turnout for governor.
A little-used state law allows the public to appeal a city ordinance. If critics can get slightly more than 2,000 valid signatures, the council would be forced to choose between repealing its own ordinance or to allow the issue to go to a special election so voters would have the option to repeal it.
The council introduced the ordinance to make the change at its last meeting, but is expected to put off a final vote until December. The council could table the ordinance or let it fail, and this would retain the May date for municipal elections.
In another option, the council could vote to put the matter on the ballot as a binding referendum next November. And you can bet that voters would also be asked to get rid of runoff elections in a second ballot question. Currently, a candidate is required to win with more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round. If not, a second round of elections called a runoff would have the top two finishers face off to decide who wins as mayor or council member.
The change of election from May to November will mostly benefit Mayor Steven Fulop because it would allow him to run in the Democratic primary for governor in June, and if he loses, seek reelection as mayor in November.
But what if Fulop wins the Democratic nod for governor?
This could result in a rush of candidates seeking to fill the vacated mayoral seat. This could also explain why Fulop would want to do away with runoff elections, allowing the person with even the slimmest of majorities to win in 2017.
Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City were discussing a joint bike sharing program over a year ago, but then they diverged.
Last week, a spokesperson for the city of Hoboken told the Reporter that Hoboken and Jersey City were working out their differences amicably, at the same time as Jersey Councilwoman Candice Osborne was still waiting for a reply from Mayor Zimmer after a brief and not-too-friendly exchange of emails between them. Osbourne had written a critical Facebook post after a group of Hoboken bikeshare bikes somehow wound up placed at a public rack in Exchange Place in Jersey City.
Jersey City is working with Citi Bike, while Hoboken is using a different company and Weehawken opted out entirely.
Weehawken decided it had better things to do with the cash that was needed to share the program with Hoboken, and spent money on other things.
Hoboken and Jersey City also differ sharply on several other bike riding issues, such as public safety.
Jersey City follows state law that prohibits bike riding on sidewalks. Hoboken, which likes to go its own way, claims that bike riders are legal on sidewalks as long as the bikes do not exceed five miles per hour. The matter was discussed at the last council meeting. You have to wonder if police radar can detect such speeds, and how this might be enforced.
Jersey City is about to launch a public education program to coincide with its bike sharing program, which will be open to the general public. Hoboken police conducted a program over the summer to work with delivery bike riders — as if the only bike riders on Hoboken sidewalks are those humble people trying to make their living in the ever-unfriendly business atmosphere in Hoboken.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.