Most of New Jersey’s fire district elections will likely move to November from February in the very near future, Save Jerseyans.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved the move by a 11-0 vote today. The Judiciary Committee previously approved the measure by a 7-0 margin.
“With only 2 percent of voters participating in fire elections, the record speaks for itself,” Asm. Ron Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “It just makes sense, particularly given the extra cost of conducting these special elections.”
A1690 doesn’t mandate a move; it simply gives each district’s board of fire commissioners the option to choose November. Supporters hope the change will dramatically improve participation in these tax-driving election which nevertheless historically attract basement-level turnout.
In a perhaps more controversial change, the legislation would also eliminate voting on any fire district budgets not exceeding the 2 percent property tax levy cap.
“We don’t want to force this on anybody. We want to make it permissive, just like we did for the school districts,” added Dancer. “The Legislature gave school boards the option. Our volunteer and professional firemen deserve the same options as schools. It will increase voter participation and save taxpayer money.”
Back in 2012, Trenton gave New Jersey school districts the ability to move their elections from April to November; last year, only 17 districts still held non-November elections.
Governor Chris Christie reportedly supports the measure.
VIDEO: Dancer Testifies in Favor of Moving Fire District Elections