Letter To The Editor: Claridge Voting Questioned

By on April 21, 2016

mailbox1To The Editor:

Verona loses, Amato wins!  

At the request of one Verona resident, Mr. Amato, District 1 will now vote at the Claridge II, a private residential facility. All other districts will continue to vote at our public schools. Mr. Amato is a former politician and Essex County Executive.

Mayor Kevin Ryan attended the Essex County Board of Elections vote. Bethany O’Toole, the Chairwoman, implied that Verona’s municipal government should have no opinion and that the township’s resolution against the move had no legal weight. However, Verona’s taxpayers will pay the costs for having an additional polling place.

Our township resolution which was based on input and evaluation by the Town Manager, Police Chief and Mayor sites N.J.S.A. 19:8-2 which requires preference be given to schools and other public buildings. This is one of the rationales for using public spaces instead of private to avoid any perception of outside influences in an election. The resolution also details the logistical and safety concerns: Limited visitor parking with no handicap parking spaces; Voters would be required to walk up a steep grade to the entrance of the building, which has a roundabout in the front that receives residents’ vehicles for valet parking, as well as cars being brought to the front entrance for resident departure; Claridge Dr., the long road leading to the site, is a private roadway and the township has no control over snow removal and ice control efforts; Claridge Dr. is the equivalent of a cul-de-sac, with only one way in and out which could result in traffic congestion issues; and No sidewalks along Claridge Dr. if street parking is permitted.

At Monday’s council meeting, before the County vote, Councilman Sniatkowski firmly disputed Mayor Ryan’s statement that the Claridge II Board of Directors endorses candidates in municipal elections. Mr. Sniatkowski was incorrect. The Claridge II Board of Directors distributed endorsement letters to residents during the last 2 municipal elections. In both letters, the former town council majority was supported. In 2013, the Board, including Mr. Amato, supported Mr. Sniatkowski, Mr. Manley, and Mr. Williamson. Last year, the Board supported Mr. Sapienza and Mr. Williamson. Mayor Ryan presented these 2 letters to the County acknowledging that the Claridge II Board certainly has every right to endorse anyone, but since it does, placing a voting machine in the complex presents potential problems.  

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Councilman Manley called the elections clerk the morning of the vote and announced he had changed his mind and while he acknowledged voting for our township resolution the night before at the Council meeting, he wanted the Board to know he supported moving the machine.

Some people may be gearing up for next year’s election when Mr. Ryan, Mr. Manley, and Mr. Snaitkowski’s Town Council seats are up for election? Who knows? But whatever the reason is for moving the voting booth and whoever decides to run next year, one thing is for sure. As with last year’s election, Verona’s residents will never support Verona’s old ways of wasteful spending and gross taxation and will not support any candidates that enabled runaway spending that the new township council majority, town manager, and CFO are working so hard to clean up. And that goes for the County as well. This move surely appears political and is just another cost burden on Verona taxpayers.

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Mary Bovich

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One Comment

  1. Stephen M. Johnson

    April 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks to Mary Bovich’s letter (“Verona loses, Amato wins!”), we know the whole story of Claridge II’s becoming a polling place. A story the Verona-Cedar Grove Times misleadingly reported as innocuous fact that somehow just happened.

    The only thing left to wonder about is Mr. Manley’s unsubtle double-move, first publicly voting to protest the County Board’s outrageous action, then quietly letting the County Board know he didn’t mean it. . . . Did he think we wouldn’t notice? Was he slow to realize one effect of Mr. Amato’s action would be more easily turned-out support for Mr. Manley’s own return to majority power next year? Did Joe Martin phone him a reminder? At least Mr. Sniatkowski’s subtler abstention was cleverly explained as merely a matter of generally increasing voter turn-out. . . .

    Indeed, but under whose direction and increasing influence?

    Stephen M. Johnson

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