SEA ISLE CITY — City Council is debating whether to move the city’s May nonpartisan elections to November to save money — about $10,500 every two years.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature voted to allow towns with nonpartisan elections to remain nonpartisan but hold elections in November, when polls are already manned for county, state and federal races.

Sea Isle City is one of nine Cape May County municipalities with nonpartisan elections. Candidates do not run on party lines, and there are no primaries.

City Council may ask for a public vote this November. At a Tuesday night meeting, City Council said they wanted more public input before deciding.

The city holds elections every two years. Moving dates would save about $10,500 per election, mostly related to ballot printing, City Clerk Cindy Griffith said.

But council members also noted drawbacks.

Would municipal elections get lost in the hype of larger federal and state races, drawing attention away from Sea Isle City’s issues? Would candidates be asked what party or candidates for other offices they support?

“In November, you’re just a small fish in there that gets lost in everyone’s (campaign) mail,” council President Mary Tighe said.

These issues are beginning to crop up in the 86 New Jersey municipalities that hold nonpartisan elections. The new law will apply starting in 2011.

The state League of Municipalities supported the changes to save money and increase voter turnout. In large cities such as Newark, the savings would be largest.

City Council has until late August to determine whether to call for a public vote on changing the election date. Moving the election also means each council member would serve an extra six months in office.

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