Moorestown mayor wants to pull back ordinance

Councilwoman Stacey Jordan was named the first woman mayor of Moorestown, NJ on Monday night.
Councilwoman Stacey Jordan was named the first woman mayor of Moorestown, NJ on Monday night.
Posted: September 11, 2013

MOORESTOWN Three weeks after urging the Township Council to adopt a controversial ordinance greatly increasing the town's "pay to play" formula - and prompting a petition drive to repeal it - Mayor Stacey Jordan told the council Monday that she wanted to rescind the ordinance.

"It was my initiative, and I'm going to ask council to reconsider it" at its Sept. 23 meeting, she said.

If adopted, the move would render moot the petition drive, led by local Democrats, that would have asked voters in a referendum whether they wished to revoke the ordinance.

On Aug. 19, the council's four Republicans voted to increase from $300 to $2,600 the political contributions that firms holding contracts with the municipal government may give to officeholders and candidates.

It also increased from $300 to $7,200 the amount such firms may donate to Moorestown political parties in any year, and from $500 to $7,200 what they may give to any political action committee.

Bob Gorman, Moorestown's Democratic committee chairman, launched the petition drive the next day. On Friday - 18 days after the council's vote - he turned the petition over to Town Clerk Patricia Hunt along with 1,393 signatures.

Jordan told the council Monday that her intention had been to make the town's guidelines for political contributions less confusing. She said she also had intended to bring the town into conformity with proposed state legislation that would standardize the rules for political contributions in all towns and counties.

"I guess I jumped the gun," she said.

Later she said she felt the petition drive had acquired "political overtones," but added: "I'm a big girl. I understand these things."

Hunt told the council that under state law, she has 20 days from last Friday to verify the petition and present it to the council, and that the council then would have 20 days in which to take action that would effectively nullify the referendum request.

If the town holds a referendum that is not part of a general election, it could cost "thousands and thousands of dollars" to print ballots and rent voting machines, she said.

Gorman said outside the meeting that the talk of the referendum's possible cost was intended "to paint us as tax-and-spend Democrats."

The one vote against the ordinance last month was cast by Councilman Greg Newcomer, the sole Democrat, who had asked the council to table the vote in view of the vigorous objection voiced by a dozen residents during the public comment portion of the meeting. He did not get a second.

On Monday he alluded to statements he had made previously to the effect that he had not known about the proposed pay-to-play ordinance until he saw it on the Aug. 19 agenda. He added that he wished to see politics removed from the council and the town move "toward a nonpartisan form of government."


Contact David O'Reilly at 856-779-3841, doreilly@phillynews.com, or @doreillyinq on Twitter.

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