Voters to decide on school board, let them decide on rent control (Letter)
On May 27, Montclair Local’s front-page story reported that Montclair residents will likely decide via a Nov. 2 referendum question whether they should be served by an elected or appointed Board of Education.
The May 27 story cites Mayor Sean Spiller as saying in April that he trusts voters to decide if an appointed or elected board is best for Montclair; Councilman and former Mayor Bob Russo as saying that he too supports a referendum; and Councilman Yacobellis as saying that he loves “seeing democracy in action.”
Why then has the Township Council so adamantly resisted putting the question of rent controls in Montclair on a ballot? If township voters can be trusted with determining the governance of Montclair’s public schools, why can they not be trusted with determining whether Montclair should impose rent controls?
I have followed this issue since it was a front-page story in the Nov. 7, 2019 Local. Perhaps I missed it, but since that time I haven’t heard a cogent explanation from any of our Township Council members of why this issue should not be decided by Montclair voters rather than the Township Council.
The entire handling of this issue has been a mess, in part as a result of the COVID crisis. And like so many political issues these days, it has ended up in the courts, with the inevitable delays and expenses. Really, with existing huge case backlogs, is this what we want our legal system dealing with?
A story in the March 11, 2021 Local cited Housing Commission Co-Chair William Scott as saying that a survey conducted in 2017 revealed that 75% of Montclair residents backed some sort of rent stabilization. If Township residents are in principle so supportive of rent controls, why is the Township Council so reluctant to put them to a vote — unless the provisions of the ordinance might be deemed unreasonable by residents, in which case the obvious solution is to amend them.
It appears we will already have one important local issue on the Nov. 2 ballot, which is likely to have a much higher voter turnout than any special election. Why not simply add a second important local issue to the ballot and resolve the issue of rent controls in Montclair in the most democratic possible manner?
Montclair Local's Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.
Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email email@example.com, or mail "Letters to the Editor," 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer's name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.
Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week's Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.
Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our "Town
Square" banner. "Town Square" essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org at least seven days prior to publication.