Articles today detailing South Ward Councilman Jim Coston’s resignation missed the most significant point about the councilman’s decision to resign his seat on Sept. 2, 2009.
That point of course, is by choosing a date after Sept. 1, roughly 60 days before the looming November general election, our South Ward councilman is depriving the very voters he purported to represent from a chance to elect a new representative in that same November election to represent them until June 30, 2010.
By handing in a Sept. 2 resignation the councilman fulfills the “Sept. 1 rule” that says that whomever the council appoints to fill the remainder of the councilman’s term will do so until the results of the May, 2o1o election come in.
If Mr. Coston chose to resign a day or so earlier, then South Ward voters would have a chance to weigh in on the decision to ensure that whoever filled out the term was a popularly, democratically elected incumbent in 2010.
Instead their councilman’s resignation date carries the prospect of having six non-South Ward resident City Council members, some of whom represent the faulty city administration Mr. Coston was elected to oppose, choose their representative for them.
Whether this is evidence of some shady, backroom deal – as some have recently said – remains to be seen, but since no City Council dockets have been established and no compelling reason given for the councilman’s random resignation date, it appears that this date has been chosen as nothing more than a measure to prevent the South Ward’s voters from weighing in on Mr. Coston’s replacement.
Let’s hope the good preacher has a more compelling reason to explain his decision to resign on a date that falls a mere 24 hours or so after the statutory date to require a democratic election for the ward seat.
STATE LAW BELOW FOR HANDY REFERENCE:
Whenever a vacancy occurs as provided in N.J.S. 40A:16-3 in the office of mayor or in the membership of the governing body of a municipality holding regular municipal elections, the vacancy shall be filled in the following manner:
a. If the vacancy occurs subsequent to September 1 of the last year of the term of the officer whose office has become vacant, the office may be filled for its unexpired term by appointment by the governing body as hereinafter provided;
b. If the vacancy occurs at any other time, the vacancy shall be filled for its unexpired term at the next general or regular municipal election, whichever occurs first, to be held not less than 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy. The governing body may fill the vacancy temporarily by appointment as hereinafter provided.