Durkin Says Bloomfield Board of Ed. Election will take place in November per law, Despite Board Resolution

After consultation with the county counsel, Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin has decided that the 2019 Bloomfield Board of Education election will go forward as planned on Tuesday November 5, 2019. 

The Bloomfield Board of Education passed a resolution August 9, 2019 moving its school board elections from November back to April. The same resolution stated “members of the Bloomfield Board of Education whose terms would have expired by November 2019 will continue to serve in office until the May 2020 organization meeting”. Essentially, that would nullify the November 2019 election. 

The resolution passed by the Bloomfield Board of Education is seeking to extend the terms of its members by cancelling the November annual school board election and moving to annual school board elections to AprilHowever, the Board resolution was passed twelve (12) days after seven (7) candidates had already filed petitions and had begun their campaigns for the November annual school board election. In addition, the Bloomfield BOE failed to provide proper notice to any person interested in filing a nominating petition for the November annual school board election.  

The state legislature passed a law (P.L. 2012, C. 202) in 2012 establishing procedures for moving the date of a school district’s annual school election from April annual school elections to the General Election in November and back from November elections to April elections. The intent of this law was to shorten the terms of Board of Education members when moving from November annual elections back to April annual elections which is evident in the proposed legislation (A-5246) sponsored by the same sponsors of the original law. 

Durkin said, “Bloomfield states that its election move is similar to a 2018 resolution passed by the Clifton BOE, but, in the Clifton case, their board of education voted on June 6, 2018 to move their elections back to April. However, Bloomfield’s situation is different in view of the fact that the deadline to file a nomination petition for this year’s school board election was July 29. Seven people filed their petitions and 12 days later the Bloomfield Board of Education voted to cancel the November election. Furthermore, in the Clifton case, they voted to move their elections well before the deadline to file petitions to run in the November 2018 election. In the Bloomfield situation, the election process was well under way before the Bloomfield Board of Education voted to nullify the election. The law also states; Members of a board of education shall be elected at annual school elections. Therefore, a school board election must be held every year. I must follow the law.” 

Durkin added, “The Bloomfield Board of Education does not have the authority to supersede ‘annual’ school elections; another part of the law (NJSA 1960:1-1) mandates For a change from the first Tuesday in November to the third Tuesday in April, notice must be given to the County Clerk no less than 85 days prior to the third Tuesday in April to take effect for that year’s election. 

“The Bloomfield Board of Education does not have the authority to supersede state law and stop the election process once it has been started,” the clerk said. “Furthermore, I cannot in good conscience disenfranchise the candidacies of the seven Bloomfield candidates who took the time to gather signatures from residents, timely submit their petitions and start their campaigns. In view of these facts, I’ve decided that the 2019 Bloomfield Board of Education election will take place on November 5th, 2019 as planned, as per NJ State law.” 

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