VINELAND - Local residents likely will elect a mayor and City Council candidates in November starting next year.

City Council will introduce an ordinance when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday that would move the municipality's non-partisan election from May to November.

Introduction and adoption of the ordinance is likely, as City Councilman Douglas Albrecht is the only member of the governing body to thus far oppose the move. Albrecht said moving the election would make the balloting partisan, something that's been avoided since the city's form of government was instituted in the 1950s.

Candidates who run for office in non-partisan elections don't do so under a designated political party. There are 86 local governments in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland Ocean counties that operate under a non-partisan form of government.

Officials here said moving the election would save the municipality more than $80,000 by not having to finance balloting in both May and November of the years when residents pick a mayor and City Council members. They also said it might increase voter turnout, especially since the city's elections would be held during presidential election years, which traditionally draw a greater response by balloters.

The proposal also has the strong support of some residents: They voted 6,135-1,233 in a non-binding referendum last November to move the election from May to November. The 7,368 people who cast ballots represented 20 percent of the city's 37,435 registered voters.

City residents will next pick a mayor and City Council members in 2012. Mayor Robert Romano and City Council members Albrecht, Peter Coccaro III, Mayra Arroyo, Edward Conrow and Louis Cresci Jr. would serve an additional six months in office should the election move from May to November.

Meanwhile, City Council has yet to make a formal decision on another election issue, that being the elimination of runoff balloting.

The city holds runoff elections when:

No mayoral candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, plus one vote. Voters then pick a mayor from the top two vote-getters.

No two City Council candidates each get 50 percent of the vote, plus one vote. The top 10 vote-getters then square off for the five City Council seats.

Proponents of abandoning the runoff election say it's an expensive, not particularly necessary endeavor. They also contend many local voters consider the runoff election to be more important than the general election.

City Council wants to put the issue of eliminating runoff elections before the voters in a referendum this November.

City Clerk Keith Petrosky said City Council has until mid-August to take reach a decision about the issue and pass the necessary legislation for the referendum to appear on the November ballot.

Contact Thomas Barlas:

609-226-9197

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