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Councilwomen Lorraine Reynolds Explains the Ridgewood Ballot

photo by Boyd Loving

Hello Friends and Neighbors,

Everyone should have gotten their ballot yesterday or today. This is not a sample ballot. It’s the real thing. Ridgewood will only have 3 polling places open, and they are for the disabled only. If you go to a polling location on election day, they will hand you a provisional (paper) ballot, & will only be counted if the election is close. Please don’t risk it.

I’m writing to you, to tell you my personal view on the Municipal Question on the ballot, page 3. First of all, don’t miss it! It’s on a separate page from the rest of the ballot (page 3). Questions usually have an interpretive statement to help you decide how to vote. This does not have an interpretive statement. I don’t know why, and I think it’s misleading that it doesn’t. There have been lots of debate back & forth on the Facebook pages, but there is little information out there for others to see. I’ll try to give you some facts to help you make an informed decision. Sorry for the length, but this is a very important question, with consequences.

If the Board of Education (BOE) vote is moved to November, we will only be able to vote on board members, and not the BOE budget. We will lose our right to vote on the BOE budget. State law mandates the BOE budget has to be in the spring. There is a stipulation if the budget is over 2%, we can vote on it in November. The problem with that, is there are so many exclusions to the 2% cap. It could go up 3%, 4%, 5% or more, and never trigger a vote on the budget.

Some people say more people vote in November, so it’s better. While it’s true more people come out to vote in November, it is also true that the percentage of people that vote the entire ballot, goes down drastically as the ballot gets longer. We did have a 5 year period when the BOE was moved to November (2014-2018), & we could only vote on Board members (not the budget). The statistics for those years prove that less people vote on BOE in November by about 2% (I listed the November numbers below***). While 2% is not a lot, we get more engaged voters focusing on local issues in the spring elections.

Only 1 person ran (2018) against any BOE incumbents during those 5 years! That is terrible.

Some say moving BOE & Council elections to November will save money. We vote on the budget every year, and Council members every 2 years. So elections cost us about $150k every 2 years (or an average of $75k per year). If we can’t vote on the budget, it gives no incentive for the BOE to be diligent on how they spend 67% of our tax dollars. It would mean there are no checks and balances, and 5 people get to decide our $110+ million dollar budget. Do you want 5 people to decide something so important? An example of how much “fat” there is in the budget, occurred this year. The budget was defeated. BOE & Council members met to go through the budget, and reduced it by $630,000 (much much more than the cost of the election). That money was headed to maintenance reserves. It did not affect any education. That $630k will turn out to be so much more, since it was not added to the base, and will not be compounded every year going forward.

Election expenses are a separate budget item, and cannot be re-allocated to other programs.

Ridgewood local elections are non partisan. If moved to November, local issues will get lost in the state and national issues. The BOE themselves are on record stating that.

In 2011, The Ridgewood BOE adopted 2 resolutions (March & December 2011) Opposing moving the Annual School Election to November. Click below to see why the BOE felt unanimously (2 times, different board members) to oppose moving the BOE election to November. https://www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us/our_district/board_of_education/legislation_and_advocacy/opposition_to_moving_the_annual_school_election_to
Everything in it still holds true today.

Some people are concerned about security in our school polling locations. We have 10 polling locations in schools, 8 of which have separate entrances, isolating voters from the rest of the school. There are many things we can do besides taking the drastic step to move elections to November. We could easily change the 2 polling locations, have remote learning options on those days, or make election days professional development days.

 ***Year        Overall Turnout for General Election         Turnout for BOE
      2015                      32.98%                                                12.61%
      2016                      74.38% (Presidential elec)                   28.18%
      2017                      43.20%                                                 16.65%
      2018                      68.35%                                                 45.77% (Only time incumbent was opposed during the November cycle. BOE raised taxes 3.62% that year, & we still were not able to vote on the
                                                                                                                     budget. People were mad, & came out to vote the incumbent out of office)
The last thing I would like to say is that people fought long and hard to have the right for every citizen to be able to vote. You may not want to vote on the BOE budget, & that’s your right, but please don’t take that right away from me, or anyone else that wants to vote. Please consider voting NO on the municipal question, page 3.
As always, If you are confused about something or have a question, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thanks,
Lorraine

6 thoughts on “Councilwomen Lorraine Reynolds Explains the Ridgewood Ballot

  1. While I expect others who feel differently to chime in, I think this an excellent breakdown of how we got to this point and what is best for our town moving forward.

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  2. Why is a council member pubically commenting on this when we are a non partisan town..

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  3. Agree. Vote NO

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  4. Its NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE….
    this is appropriate comment for a nonpartisan town.

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  5. Dear Anonymous #2 – Are 1st Amendment rights suspended or revoked for a person if that person becomes a Council member or a member or any other executive governing body in the USA?

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  6. Ms. Reynolds begins by urging everyone to vote and then states, right up front, that this is her own personal opinion “I’m writing to you, to tell you my personal view on the Municipal Question on the ballot. . . ” She present the One Village One Vote argument and then explains why she disagrees with it but she DOES present their views.

    She does not present herself as a Council member but, rather, as a private citizen which she still is, and presents both side of the argument and why she had decided in favor of one over the other. Seems like a well reasoned email to me. Nothing here to see.

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