WEST CAPE MAY — Borough Commission has decided to move its nonpartisan municipal elections from May to November.
The move comes just weeks after voters rejected increasing the size of the governing body from three to five members. It means the May 2013 election, set to decide all three seats on the governing body, will now take place Nov. 5.
A state law passed in 2010 allows towns with nonpartisan elections to move them to save money by piggybacking on regularly scheduled November elections and increase voter turnout. The elections are still nonpartisan and are placed in a separate column on the ballot.
Neighboring Cape May made the move this year, hosting its first November City Council election. West Cape May officials wanted to see how that switch went while they solicited feedback from residents. The borough hosts an election only every four years, with all three commission seats decided.
“Most all the feedback we got in over one year of asking is people favored it to save the money,” Mayor Pam Kaithern said. “All the schools moved their elections to November. It saves us over $10,000.”
The borough actually hosted a November election of sorts this year. There were no seats decided, but ballot questions to increase the size of the commission and reduce its salaries were roundly defeated by residents.
Kaithern and Deputy Mayor Peter Burkeapproved the switch to November at a meeting last week. Commissioner Ramsey Geyer was not at the meeting because he resigned his seat effective Dec. 14 to move to Florida.
“Our house is under contract with closing on the 28th. As soon as it closes we’re going to Florida,” Geyer said on Monday.
The two commissioners will appoint somebody to fill Geyer’s unexpired term, which was set to end in May but now is extended by the election switch. Whoever takes the seat could run in November for a full four-year term set to commence in January 2014.
Kaithern said interested residents have until the end of the year to make their intentions known. A replacement will be named in January.
“It gives them a chance to get to know the job and be contributing rather than just place-keeping for one year,” Kaithern said.
Geyer ran on a slate with Kaithern and Burke but was sometimes at odds with them. He was a strong supporter of the local volunteer fire company, often clashing with Kaithern and Burke on fire company budget issues, and he supported a controversial plan for a new vineyard on Stevens Street to host weddings.
“Opinions vary, but I feel I made some significant contributions to the community. I assisted the fire company becoming more stable. I’m against blocking people from using their farmland and doing what they have a legal right to do,” Geyer said.
He said he agreed with Kaithern and Burke on most issues.
One of the few votes against the two was on a funding issue for the fire company, but Kaithern noted at the time the borough faced a state-imposed 2 percent budget cap on tax levies.
“When you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money,” she said.
Kaithern said several people have expressed interest in the seat and a decision will be made early next year.
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