Brigantine officials have again invalidated a petition that would have prompted a referendum this November to change the city’s form of government.
That rejection could lead to a legal battle as the petition’s organizers vow to pursue the matter in court.
City Clerk Lynn Sweeney said the citizens group Respectable Government for Brigantine submitted an additional 221 signatures last week to overcome her prior objections, but they still did not address underlying problems with the language of the petition and the affidavits necessary to certify the signatures.
“They had more than enough signatures, but due to the conditions we had noted in the original response, it’s still insufficient,” Sweeney said Friday.
Vince Sera, the group’s vice president, said he believes the petition was executed in accordance with the law and that the existing affidavits should have been sufficient.
“I think we’re trying to equivocate over words,” he said. “I really believe the language we have is strong and sufficient enough to move this forward.”
The next step will be to explore legal action, Sera said, but he added his group has not yet determined when that could happen.
“I think this is something a judge may have to look at and make a determination on,” he said.
The petition, submitted and initially invalidated last month, called for a referendum to return the city to a three-member commission form of government, in which elected officials would oversee individual departments. A similar movement in 1989 led to the city abandoning that form for the manager and seven-member council setup it currently has.
Backers of the referendum say the commission form would streamline governance, shorten meetings and eliminate the ward system of geographical representation. Opponents say it would place too much power in the hands of a few people, creating opportunities for corruption and mismanagement.
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