City Clerk Robert Sloan discovered that of the 1,759 names and signatures submitted, only 1,108 were voters found to be legally registered in the preceding general election. The petition needed 15 percent of the legally qualified voters who cast ballots in the district in last year’s election. Voter turnout last November was 11,005, so 15 percent, or 1,651 signatures, were required.
That makes Alonso’s drive 543 required signatures short, according to Sloan.
As a result, Alonso may not be able to get the names and signatures he needs in time for the May 13 municipal elections.
Alonso disagrees and said he is taking his case to court this week.
“We’re going to Hudson County to contest,” he said. “Every drive is assured one ‘cure,’ and this is a legal matter. His [Sloan’s] statement is that we can’t fix or cure or amend the petition.”
“[We’re] going to court to cure the petition and correct it and get it on the ballot,” Alonso said.
“The law says we have enough time to correct its deficiencies. We think it’s a legal matter and were going to fight it.”
Alonso is also a council candidate for Third Ward in the Bayonne elections, but he said that he did not take on the petition drive to garner votes in that campaign.
“I've been out here for a year, and they [the people] know where I stand on the issues,” he said.
Alonso did say, however, that if elected, his goal would be to introduce the measure for an elected board through the city council, which he said was the other route to get this accomplished.
The elected board was abandoned in 1978. Alonso wants it back for a number of reasons. One is that it would put Bayonne in alignment with the rest of Hudson County.
“We’re the only ones in the county that don’t have an elected school board,” he said. “They take almost 60 percent of all our property taxes, and it’s about time the people have a choice on who’s running the schools.”
Increased accountability is another reason. Elected board members are subject to recalls, he said, while appointed ones are not.
According to Alonso, the public also gets to vote on budgets proposed by elected boards, while they do not with appointed ones.
He also sees value in the staggered, three-year terms of elected boards versus appointed ones.
“Anybody can run,” he said. “It’s more of an open field.”
Elected board supporters
Alonso said that his drive is being supported by the James Davis for Mayor campaign, including his council candidates Juan Perez (at large) and Thomas Cotter (First Ward). He said Zanowic for Mayor First Ward candidate Daniel Herrera is also on board.
“It’s really about time,” he said. “The city council members say the people have a right to go to the polls to vote. [But] each of the five council members hasn’t said to put it on the ballot. At any time, they can just put it in.”
“Right now we don’t have choice at all and at least we will have a choice” if it is passed, Alonso said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.