Montclair will hold a special town council meeting Wednesday, October 18 (11 a.m.) to discuss a resolution to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis.

The agenda includes one hour for public comment followed by discussion.

Assistant township attorney Gina DeVito provided the relevant statutes regarding the procedure for filling a vacancy of an elected municipal officer, N.J.S. 40A:16-4. Filling vacancies in municipalities holding regular municipal elections.

According to the statute: If the vacancy occurs subsequent to September 1 of the last year of the term of the officer whose office has become vacant, the office may be filled for its unexpired term by appointment by the governing body.

Possible names circulating to fill the vacancy include Montclair NAACP president Roger Terry and former Fourth Ward Councilor Dr. Renee Baskerville, who ran for mayor in 2020.

Roger Terry, president of the Montclair NAACP, speaking at Temple Ner Tamid at the Interfaith Rally Against Hate in February 2023.

“Overall, I am pleased with this process and will consider all names put forth to make what I think is the right decision for the town,” said Deputy Mayor Bill Hurlock.

Terry served as a former Montclair councilor at large (2008-2012) and as deputy mayor; he was also a former deputy chief of the Montclair Police Dept.

“Roger and I competed for this exact seat,” said former councilor Peter Yacobellis of suggesting Terry who ran for councilor at large in 2020. “He’s a statesman in every way and that’s what Montclair needs right now.”

Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings shared that he will support Baskerville, who served on the council for 12 years starting in 2008.

“This is an important position for the Council to fill. Considering where we are, with essentially seven to eight months left for the current Council’s term, I can’t think of another resident more qualified to step in immediately without having to be brought up to speed than Renee Baskerville,” said Cummings. “She’s served 12 years on the council, is a consistent presence at council meetings and commission meetings. She knows the issues and how our government is supposed to work.”

Dr. Renee Baskerville, poses with her slate in 2020. She lost her bid for mayor in 2020 in a very close race.

“Her performance in the last mayoral race shows she has support across the Township. Running on her slate, I know her passion for the Township. We don’t agree on everything, but I think she would bring a necessary perspective, and most of all her institutional knowledge clearly sets her apart,” Cummings added.

Councilor at Large Robert Russo, in an email, said a number of good candidates have expressed an interest or been suggested by the public already. Russo mentioned Terry, as well as Eileen Birmingham, Carmel Loughman, Deirdre Malloy and Imani Oakley.  

“Out of respect and courtesy, I will personally contact all of them, but I did recommend Dr. Renee Baskerville immediately upon hearing of Peter’s resignation last week,” said Russo, who cited Baskerville’s experience, both on the council and on the Board of Education.

Russo also questioned the agenda’s one hour public comment limit and no mention of an Executive Session.

“I’m not sure I will even have an opportunity to nominate if this is already a pre-determined decision,” he added.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.

11 replies on “Montclair to Hold Special Meeting Wednesday to Fill Yacobellis Vacancy”

  1. Once again, the Boomers have to step in!
    Maybe the Boomers will get a senior center out of this Council after all.

  2. Bob Russo — you really need to work to get four votes for SOMETHING. Not just continue to personally grandstand from behind politically — for Bob.

    When you finally understand this, begin to operate differently, only then will you get the public support wanted. I’ve tried to explain this to you so many times. To help. Maybe said openly now, you’ll get it. Maybe listen?

    Do you understand that most insiders see the obvious political transparency here? The true intent behind you saying that “out of respect and courtesy, I will personally contact all of them” — the dangled possible names to run with you in the next election. For what purpose? To tell them you were totally aced out of the Council decision-making process internally? That the pick was already made for Roger Terry? That you’re a victim again of the Spiller Council majority. Whom you’ve always still actually supported…not really openly opposed on many important issues people want? From the start, when it counted?

    Until you’re ready to take real positions on real issues and actually lead, work and lobby four votes for that…or speak out beforehand to pressure…not wait for the wind direction to blow to tell you how to act…then you will not get the personal, political respect desired.

  3. Martin, Agree with you, about Bob Russo. His non vote regarding LP, after being in politics for all these decades in Montclair, was inexcusable.

    Anyway, I thought the fix was in about who is getting this seat. And it’s no one named in the article. Although the gang of four is missing one if their players now.

  4. Correct, Montyxxx. Bob Russo’s vote on Lackawanna was inexcusable given his long time history here. It showed a total lack of understanding of what’s really going on today.

    And yes, the fix did appear to be in for someone else — someone formerly elected it seemed. Hopefully, the majority on this this “crew” eventually realized the blowback that would come to them personally, if they dared go down that road. But we shall see…

  5. MontyXXX & MartinSchwartz, Please spill the insider beans on who the ‘someone else’ was to be. If formerly elected…Jerry Fried? Ed Remsen? Mary Mochary? This audience member wants to know!

  6. Seriously, Maureen? There is this thing called Google.
    Martin Schwartz crew.

    Martin was dying to, and should be recognized for calling his shot!

  7. Frank, what is wrong with the Do Drop Inn?

    For $5 seniors get breakfast and lunch and can hang out. Activities vary. It’s in a brand new facility, the new Wally Choice Community Center. Yes this is an Essex County property not a Township property but I fail to see this as a reason for endlessly shouting that we need a senior center. We HAVE a senior center.

  8. @townie

    First, I missed the part above where we brought up the senior center issue.

    Second, the WCCC is the bee’s knees. Wow. I went window shopping for walkers when they had a senior’s health fair last month (maybe August, my dementia). Glad for by Joey D’s learning curve in the Cedar Grove facility. Lessons learned benefited us in Montclair. The parking a ;little dubious. But, those seniors really should be retested to keep their licenses. One almost took me out going out the entrance. I am impressed… and that, as you may imagine, is no easy feat. Shouldn’t we have one in the 1st Ward (using the swimming pool justification model)?

    Third, I never advocated for a senior center. I have always said to push the seniors out of town. This is suburbia, after all. That is the social compact.

    Fourth, I have been quite consistent in saying replacing the Police Department bldg is our top capital priority. Bar none. Whether you like police or not, to subject our employees to those seriously substandard conditions is beyond the pale.

  9. Hey Maureen – to quote William Tcumsah Sherman “if nominated I will not run, if elected, I will not serve”

    Chrissy “way too many words”

    “ I abstain is not leadership”. Time to retire and make way for new people.

  10. Do I read correctly that Ed is fashioning himself as William Tecumseh Sherman in some way? Ed, you certainly think a lot of yourself!

    “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.” Right. This tells me you are itching to run. 😉

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