Jersey City may consider partisan municipal elections

Jersey City is expected to consider a change to their form of government that would move from May non-partisan elections to partisan elections, with a June primary and a November general, according to sources close to the Hudson County Democratic leadership. Democrats were slightly alarmed earlier this year when former Mayor Bret Schundler, a conservative Republican, was emerging as the strongest potential challenger to Mayor Jerramiah Healy, the Hudson County Democratic Chairman. A partisan election would make only the Democratic primary relevant.

Sources say that the idea to switch from non-partisan to partisan was initially offered to Healy by George Norcross, the South Jersey Democratic leader. Camden and Gloucester Township have also moved from non-partisan to partisan local elections. Democrats feel their Gloucester Township mayoral candidate, former Assemblyman David Mayer, has a better chance to oust Republican incumbent Cindy Rau-Hatton in November than he would have in May.

Schundler was elected Mayor in a sixteen-candidate field in a November 1992 special election, after Gerald McCann's criminal conviction. There are no runoffs in special municipal elections, allowing Schundler to win with less than 50% of the vote.

One option for Jersey City would be to move mayoral elections to the mid-term of the Governor, so that mayoral elections aren't held in a gubernatorial year. That would allow future Mayors to run for Governor without giving up their seat. The statewide campaigns of Mayors Paul Jordan (1973) and Thomas F.X. Smith (1981) collapsed when political rivals won election as Mayor a month before the gubernatorial primary.

Jersey City may consider partisan municipal elections