Discussion on switch to ward system continues

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

EDISON — Opinions as to whether certain neighborhoods need better representation on the Township Council are divided.

Some local residents who feel that their section of town needs a stronger voice got together and circulated a petition to place two questions on the Nov. 4 ballot. The questions ask if voters want to expand the number of council members and if the township should be split into wards, said Louis Rainone, township attorney.

If residents vote for the ward system, the council would increase from seven members to nine members, Rainone said.

The township would then be divided into five wards. Each ward would elect one councilman with four councilmen elected at-large, or by the entire township, Rainone said.

The town’s master plan, which was accepted by the Planning Board in August, divides the town into five sections, said Kevin Duffy, a township resident who helped organize the drive to take the issue to the voters.

Four members of the Middlesex County Board of Elections and the municipal clerk would draw a map indicating where the wards would be, Duffy said. The wards will not be drawn before the November election.

At a forum to discuss the issue, held recently at town hall, several questions raised about the logistics of the transition to the ward system remained unanswered.

"In order for the ward question to be effective, both questions would have to be answered ‘yes,’" Rainone said.Flavio Komuves, attorney for the petitioners who want a ward system, said that, in his interpretation of the law, if either question is accepted by the voters the ward system would have to be implemented.

Many residents have differing opinions of what would be best for the township.

People in favor of wards want to see representation from each section of town so that issues from all over the township can be brought to the council and solved in a timely fashion and without confusion, Duffy said.

"Four of the (current) council members live in my area in North Edison," Duffy said.

Some people do not feel their neighborhoods are being fairly represented on the council.

"I do not feel represented in this system," said David Zulli, township resident. "I do not feel I have someone to vote for that represents my neighborhood."

Some residents feel there is no need to divide the town into wards.

"My main concern is that the tax rate will go up and government spending will also go up," said Ram Lavie, Edison resident. "Our system is working really good. If our system is not broken, why fix it?"

The final public forum on the ward system will be held on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the municipal complex.