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Dios v. Ronnie

Decided: October 11, 1962.

JOHN J. DIOS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
STEPHEN Y. RONNIE, CLERK OF THE TOWNSHIP OF MAPLEWOOD, AND NICHOLAS V. CAPUTO, ESSEX COUNTY CLERK, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, AND VICTOR J. DEVINNY, WILLIAM J. GRADY, MORTIMER KATZ, WILLIAM F. O'CONNOR, AND LOUIS D. STRATTON, INTERVENORS-APPELLANTS



Price, Sullivan and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, J.A.D.

Sullivan

This appeal involves the interpretation of certain provisions of the Optional Municipal Charter Law, N.J.S.A. 40:69A-1 et seq. , commonly known as the Faulkner Act.

The Faulkner Act was enacted in 1950 (L. 1950, c. 210), and was designed to bring about much needed reforms in the field of municipal government. The act provides that whenever authorized by ordinance of the governing body or upon petition of the registered voters of any municipality, an election shall be held in the municipality upon the question whether a charter commission should be elected to study the charter of the municipality and to consider a new charter or improvements in the present charter and to make recommendations thereon.

In the instant case the Township Committee of the Township of Maplewood has by ordinance authorized such an election to be held at the general election on Tuesday, November 6, 1962.

Section 2 of the act (N.J.S.A. 40:69A-2) provides as follows:

"A charter commission of five members shall be elected by the qualified voters at the same time as the public question is submitted. Duly nominated candidates for the office of charter commissioner shall be placed upon the ballot containing the public question in the same manner as is provided by law for candidates nominated by petition for other offices elective by the people of a single municipality, except that they shall be listed without any designation or slogan. Each voter shall be instructed to vote on the question and, regardless of the manner of his vote on the question, to vote for five members of a charter commission who shall serve if the question is determined in the affirmative."

It is this section of the act, and in particular the language that candidates "shall be listed without any designation or slogan," that has given rise to the present suit.

Pursuant to section 3 of the act (N.J.S.A. 40:69A-3) two nominating petitions were filed with the municipal clerk. One of the petitions nominated five candidates for the charter commission. Appellants are the candidates nominated in said petition. At the time said petition was filed, a letter signed by appellants and requesting that their names be bracketed on the ballot was delivered to the municipal clerk. The other petition nominated four candidates, of whom plaintiff is one. These candidates, by letter, requested the clerk not to bracket their names on the ballot.

A drawing for ballot position was held on September 17, 1962, at which time the clerk placed five cards in the box. One card contained the names of the five appellants. Each of the other four candidates, including plaintiff, had a separate card with his individual name on it. Plaintiff, who was present, made formal objection to the manner of drawing. However, the clerk conducted it in the manner above recited. It is undisputed that appellants were to be bracketed on the ballot in whatever position was drawn for them.

Plaintiff filed the instant suit charging that the bracketing of appellants for the purpose of the drawing and the listing of the candidates on the ballot was illegal in that

N.J.S.A. 40:69A-2 specifically prohibits the listing of candidates for the charter commission on the ballot with a designation or slogan. Plaintiff demanded that the drawing of September 17, 1962 be voided, and that a new ...


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