Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lyndhurst Keeping Its Commission

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lyndhurst Keeping Its Commission

Article excerpt

LYNDHURST - Two years ago, social studies teacher Darius Hughes embarked on a civics lesson that could have changed Lyndhurst history.

Hughes, along with four other residents and a handful of high school students, formed a grassroots coalition that asked residents to back a study of the township's commission form of government, created a century ago.

That effort appeared to come to an end this week, as an effort to solicit township voters' input through a ballot question missed a critical deadline.

Hughes and his supporters alleged that the township's commission-based governance drove nepotism and corruption. They cited a lack of professionalism and highlighted the growing number of civil lawsuits against the township as further evidence that the commission-based system was broken. A key concern Hughes and the group raised was that the commission form allowed elected officials to not only act as policymakers, but also to function as department heads who could hire and fire township personnel.

Lyndhurst is one of seven New Jersey towns guided by the Walsh Act, which allows for the commission form of government. Under the Faulkner Act, a New Jersey municipality can start the process of changing its form of government either by collecting enough validated signatures on a petition or through the adoption of an ordinance by the governing body.

The coalition, beginning in 2015, sought to get this question onto a township ballot: "Would Lyndhurst benefit from another form of government?"

The deadline to get it on the forthcoming November ballot was Tuesday.

By petition

In 2015, Hughes and four residents formed the Lyndhurst Charter Study organization, which was intent on adding a public question to a forthcoming township ballot, collecting over 3,100 signatures on a petition in order to do so.

It would not have necessarily changed the form of government, but if the public voted yes, then it would have created a study team to investigate the best form of government for Lyndhurst and make suggestions to the commissioners.

The group took to the streets, with the help of the high school students, knocking on residents' doors to gather the signatures. …

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