An important biennial – yet often overlooked – election is occurring this year for the Roselle Park Democratic Committee (RPDC). County Committee seats for political parties are held every alternate year with even years being for Republicans and odd years being for Democrats in Roselle Park. For both parties, committee members are broken down by gender, ward, and district with one man and one woman able to represent each of the two (2) districts within the five (5) wards of the borough. In total there are 20 seats available. This year, the RPDC is holding their County Committee election and the candidates are:
The list is public but currently unofficial because it has not been certified by the Borough Clerk’s office.
Why is it important?
Once elected, party committee members have the ability to adopt or amend the by-laws and constitution of the their political committee. Although it may not be the case in Roselle Park, if by-laws call for a nominating committee to choose a party-endorsed candidate, the by-laws can be changed by committee members to have the entire committee choose a candidate instead.
All party-endorsed candidates for council and mayor were all interviewed by their respective committees, voted on, and picked to represent their parties in primary and general elections.
Additionally, all vacancies – like the one which just occurred in the 5th ward when Michael Yakubov stepped down – were filled by candidates who interviewed before their party committee and were chosen by majority vote.
Party committee members also have a say in who gets chosen for appointed position in various municipal boards and committees, sometimes even appointing themselves and other members of their political committee for positions in borough government. Although the final say is left to the mayor and/or council, names are usually presented by committee members to elected officials which are then considered before other residents, including those who have filled out Citizen Service Forms or who may have more experience or be better qualified. This happens with both political committees.
Finally, party committee members often recommend the selection of election day poll workers. These workers get paid to work on election day and are usually chosen over residents not affiliated with either party for a non-partisan event.
Who can become a Democratic Committee Member?
Anyone who is 18-years-old, a resident of the election district, and is registered to vote as a Democrat has the right to become a committee member. Although the deadline for filing a nominating petition has expired, residents can write-in themselves or the person they choose who lives in their respective district as a committee member as long as that person is registered as a Democrat.
Although the minimum number of signatures needed for a nominating petition are needed for write-in votes in other elections, people have won seats on County Committees with as little as two (2) votes. There has not been a case in recent history where a person who received the most votes – even if the number was less than minimum of that for a nominating petition – was denied a seat on a County Committee to represent their party.
On the outside ballot which is supposed to be mailed to all registered residents, the ward and district which someone is registered to vote in will appear on the front of the ballot. The Borough Clerk’s office at (908) 245-6180 can be contacted to determine the ward and district a resident is registered in. A map showing the boundaries of each ward and district can also be requested.
In 2016, the Roselle Park Republican Committee (RPRC) will be holding its election for party county committee members.