Last year’s elections took its toll on our community and I know most people I have spoken with do not want to see what happened in 2017, with the excessive hostility and division, happen again. Like many, I want to see civility restored to our elections and I want the majority of our community to feel as though they had a hand in electing our leaders. The reasons are that simple to me and that is why I am voting “Yes” on Hoboken Public Question 1 to reinstate runoffs and provide for our leaders to be elected by a majority.
Didn’t we just vote to eliminate runoffs? Yes, in 2012, 75 percent of Hoboken voters voted to move municipal elections from May to November, and during the same election, 58 percent voted to eliminate runoffs. The combined initiative was reflective of the time and advocated by our then mayor primarily given the experience she and our community had in 2007 and 2009 when there were multiple elections for 4th Ward council and mayor – increased costs to taxpayers and candidates and voter fatigue. Just voting to move the municipal elections from May to December reduced our election costs significantly. But voter fatigue clearly did not go away.
After experiencing what we did in last year’s election, do we want to continue with winner take all elections where candidates appeal to just specific blocks of voters and don’t mind alienating others? I don’t. Do we want our community to have elected leaders who do not reflect the will of the majority? I don’t.
For the naysayers who may think otherwise, the upcoming vote is not at all a referendum on our current mayor. This upcoming vote is a referendum on last year’s election and its divisive effect on our community. Just because we voted one way six years ago, doesn’t mean we cannot vote again and consider more recent events as we decide how to move forward. We are allowed to change our mind.
You may hear arguments against runoffs citing concerns about low turnout and the impact of our nefarious Voters By Mail. First and foremost, Hoboken voters come out and vote in municipal elections, especially since they have moved to November and historic runoffs in Hoboken have had higher turnout than the initial election. Other than in the 4th Ward elections where VBM’s have the biggest impact with or without runoffs, the impact is actually reduced for city wide races when there is just two candidates. Separately, as we have recently seen there is legal action finally being taken that will hopefully eliminate paid for votes once and for all.
We get to consider making a change now –on Nov. 6 – that will result in our future elections being more moderate and issues focused, and the outcome more broadly supported. I hope you will join me in voting “Yes” on Hoboken Public Question 1.