FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the difference between a “weak mayor” and a “strong mayor”?
A “weak mayor” has no formal executive authority. The weak mayor’s only duties are to speak on behalf of the Township Committee, call the meetings to order, sign legislation passed by the Committee. A “strong mayor” acts as a true chief executive. He or she has important duties that the weak mayor does not have including enforcing the charter and ordinances of the municipality, appointing department heads, preparing a tentative budget, overseeing the daily operations of Middletown, and the power to veto ordinances. Under our proposed form of government, Middletown would transition from a weak mayor to a strong mayor.
What is a ward?
A ward is effectively a zone within a municipality comprised of a number of current voting districts. Each of Middletown’s four wards would elect its own council member to a seven-member council, while the other three members will be elected by the entire town at-large.
Why four wards?
Four wards strike the right balance between limiting size of government and ensuring greater representation.
How will the wards be decided? Who will draw the lines?
When the successful voter initiative is approved by residents, the drawing of the wards will be decided by the Monmouth County Board of Elections and the Middletown Township Clerk.
What is the difference between a "committee" and a "council"?
Under Middletown's current Township form of government, its legislative body is known as the Township Committee. Under our proposed Mayor-Council system of government, Middletown's legislative body would be known as the Township Council.
Has there ever been an attempt to change Middletown’s government before?
Our plan for directly electing the mayor of Middletown and breaking down Middletown's 46 voting districts into four wards was first proposed in the 1969 Middletown Charter Commission Report. It was reported at the time that Middletown had the oldest form of local government in New Jersey.
Why didn’t Middletown adopt the changes in the 1969 charter study?
Special interests were afraid of losing their influence over Township matters and campaigned against change.
Where can I find a copy of the 1969 charter study commission?
You can find a copy of the 1969 Middletown Charter Study Commission Report by inquiring at the Reference Desk of the Middletown Township Public Library.
I like smaller government. Why should I vote to make Middletown’s government bigger?
Our initiative is not about making Middletown’s government bigger; it’s about making local government more local. The town’s population has grown nearly 20% over the last 50 years, and a five-member committee is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of all 66,000 Middletown residents.
Middletown elects all of its committee members, so doesn’t it technically already elect its mayor?
No. While it’s true that residents elect members to the Township Committee, it is the five members of the Township Committee who choose one of their own to serve as mayor. Each member has a vote, including the person who is ultimately appointed mayor. Historically, the Township Committee members who are up for reelection are selected to serve as mayor or deputy mayor. This allows the committee member up for reelection to use the Township’s media resources to promote themselves at no cost to their campaign, giving them an unfair advantage.
Will expanding Middletown’s government cost taxpayers more money?
No, not necessarily. Currently the day-to-day operations of Middletown’s government is run by the Township Administrator and the Assistant Township Administrator, combined they are paid nearly $350,000 a year. By changing the form of government, the mayor would take on much of the responsibilities of the administrators, thus reducing administrative cost.
I’m fine with our current government system. Why should I vote to change it?
The current form of government is outdated. Middletown’s population has grown nearly 20% over the last 50 years, yet the Township still operates under the oldest form of government known in New Jersey. There is no public accountability for those who are elected to the Township Committee. By directly electing a mayor and four Town Council members from the established wards, residents will be able to hold those who are making decisions on their behalf accountable for their actions, which will result in a more representative and responsive town government.