BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield Board of Education resolution approved Aug. 9, which returned school board elections to April, from November, has been invalidated by Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin.
In an Aug. 22 statement, Durkin gave two reasons for his decision. The first was that the deadline for candidates’ petitions for the November 2019 elections was July 29 and consequently the election process was “well under way” before the school board resolution was approved. The second was that N.J. law states school board members shall be elected at annual school elections.
“Therefore, a school board election must be held every year,” he said. “I must follow the law.”
The Bloomfield school board vote took place during a special 11th-hour meeting scheduled abruptly for a Friday evening in August. It was the intention of the board that if a resolution were approved, the board could notify Durkin by Monday, Aug. 12. It was believed by board members that the deadline for notifying the county clerk’s office of a resolution changing from November to April elections was 85 days before the November election. But according to Durkin in a telephone interview, that belief was wrong.
“There’s no such law that says 85 days,” he said. “There’s no such thing. They made it up. It’s not 85 days before a November election. It’s 85 days before an April election. I don’t know where the 85 days before a November election came from and took root.”
The Bloomfield BOE could still possibly have April 2020 elections, he said. His press release cited, in part, NJ school election law NJSA 19:60:1-1.
“For a change from the first Tuesday in November to the third Tuesday in April, notice must be given to the county clerk no less than 85 days prior to the third Tuesday in April to take effect for that year’s election.”