South Ward Councilman Jim Coston defended his decision to resign on Sept. 2 in The Trentonian over the weekend.
Mr. Coston said he chose Sept. 2 not to deprive South Ward voters of a chance to pick their next council member in the November election, despite that same effect.
Instead, the date was chosen to ensure the South Warders had representation for the 60 or so days the seat could end up being unfilled in the event he left prior to Sept. 2, triggering the election, according to the councilman.
Judging by the sudden decrease in buzz and controversy over the resignation of the councilman, it seems such a response satisfied many of those whose eyebrows became raised when Mr. Coston first announced his intention to resign on Sept. 2.
Some were nonplussed by the explanation, however, since choosing a date prior to Sept. 2 and allowing the voters to pick their successor in November 2009 rather than May 2010 does not prevent City Council from filling the seat with an interim representative.
The law in fact specifically allows council to appoint a temporary successor who would serve until November, instead of the alternate reality now facing South Ward residents – having their representative chosen by Paul Pintella, Annette Lartigue, four other non-South Ward residents, and part-time Hunterdon County resident and mayor Douglas H. Palmer, for the duration of Mr. Coston’s unexpired term.
Given the record of most council members, it would seem beneficial to the South Ward that the successor to Mr. Coston be chosen in a popular election held in November, rather than a highly politicized and possibly tainted appointment process that will harm the reputation of whomever is chosen by Pintella & Co.
The overwhelming prominence of rumors and speculation about backroom deals – including quotes from one contender saying “I’m a lock” – mean a democratic election is the best way to go.