Neptune Government For All (NG4A) is a newly formed, non-partisan group of Neptune citizens interested in changing the Township’s current system of government. They have started a petition drive to place a referendum on this November’s ballot which would allow the voters of Neptune to directly elect their Mayor for a four year term. This format would also create a ward system of representation.
“It’s unfortunate that in a town the size of Neptune, voters do not have the right to directly vote on who the Mayor should be,” said Dru Reynolds, of Ocean Grove, one of the organizers of the group. “Quite frankly, it’s un-democratic that only a few people end up picking the Mayor, which is what happens now. It’s even worse that our Mayor serves for only one year when we have so many problems like taxes and crime to deal with in town.”
NG4A has been meeting over the last year, researching the idea of changing the Township Charter, with the assistance of New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center. The group decided that a Mayor – Council form of government would best serve Neptune.
That format allows the voters to elect the Mayor, who would serve for four years, and develop a continuity of programs and initiatives which is not possible under the current system. A mayor in this style of government would become more accountable to the voters and have a greater impact on providing a more stable economic base for the Township while being able to address such issues as crime and spending.
According to Charlie DeMaria of the Villas section of Neptune, “the idea of changing the style of Neptune’s government has actually been discussed by several small groups over the last 10 years or so, without any action being taken. Now is the time because of the need for bold, long-term visions & leadership for the township.”
Mr. Demaria continued, “Besides the fact that right now the voters don’t actually elect the mayor, halfway through the Mayor’s one-year term the honeymoon is over and the Mayor becomes a lame duck. We believe that a 4-year term provides more productivity and the opportunity for the voters to have more of a say in the direction the Township is heading.”
West Neptune resident Jennifer Eldridge brought up another issue. “In the last four years, we have not been able to get a definitive response from any of our elected officials about preserving – or even recognizing – the historic elements that are located in the western most sections of Neptune Township.” “Maybe,” Eldridge continued, “if voters have the power to elect a Mayor directly, as opposed to the position being filled by political strategy, the residents will finally see an end to this deliberate grid-lock and obstructionism.”
In addition to changing the Township’s charter in order to provide for a directly elected Mayor, this change of government style would provide for more direct representation of the various neighborhoods across the township. Six council members would be directly elected by the voters of six newly created wards representing various neighborhoods in town. Three other council members would be elected at large by all of the voters in Neptune. This type of representation exemplifies democracy. Each local ward would have a member sitting on the council who would be able to focus on their neighborhood’s issues, instead of citizens only getting 5 minutes at the microphone to address any particular issue.
In order to get this referendum on the ballot this November, volunteers will be fanning out across Neptune over the next few weeks in order to gather the required signatures. Once on the ballot, the NG4A will continue publicizing the benefits of this change of government via the media, direct mail and local educational forums in order to fully inform the residents of Neptune.
“Right now, we are working on getting the question on this November’s ballot,” Reynolds said, “and we need your help to get the job done. This effort represents a great opportunity to move Neptune forward and provide better representation for all of our residents. Your help will make this happen.”
For further information, to sign the petition or to volunteer to help this important effort, please visit www.ng4a.net or call 732-456-2199. You may also send an email to the group via [email protected]