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.
“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.”
“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.