Most school board elections won’t be held until Nov. 6, but under a new state law that moved the election, residents have to file their nominating petitions by 4 p.m. June 5 at their county clerk’s office.
Officials in the clerks’ offices said petitions are coming in slowly and they are concerned that residents not already on school boards may not know about the terms of the new law or realize they have to file their candidacy so far in advance.
“We do need to bring this to the attention of more potential candidates,” Cape May County Clerk Rita Fulginiti said.
New Jersey School Boards Association members passed a resolution at their spring delegate assembly Saturday supporting a proposal to ask state legislators to move the filing deadline to September to coincide with the deadline for other nonpartisan elections. They hope to amend the law for 2013.
“It just makes more sense,” said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the school boards group. “It is a problem that people who might consider running in November won’t be thinking about it in June. There might be more interest and participation in the fall.”
The new law, which took effect in January, was designed to save money and generate more interest in school board elections by moving them to November as part of the general election. Almost every school board in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties opted to make the switch to November, except for Atlantic City, Hammonton and Bridgeton, which kept their elections in April this year but can still move them to November in the future.
John Piatt, election manager at the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office, said seven petitions have been returned so far for candidates in Hamilton Township, Galloway Township, Egg Harbor Township, Absecon, Northfield and the Buena Regional school district.
Clerks said they realize the process is new, and they will be happy to explain it to anyone who calls. Atlantic and Cape May counties have links to their petition forms on the NJSBA website, or they can be picked up at county clerks’ offices.
The Cape May County Clerk’s Office will be open from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 2, for potential candidates who can’t make it there during the week, Fulginiti said.
Cumberland County Deputy Clerk Barbara Fowler said there have been quite a few petitions picked up, but only a few have been returned.
“People do tend to wait until the last minute,” she said.
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