Last week, the town council in Moorestown passed an ordinance. Town councils everywhere pass ordinances all the time. It’s part of what they do, the process by which they enact, or in this instance repeal, rules and regulations.
But this particular ordinance that Moorestown’s council passed on Oct. 7 is especially pertinent, not just for that town, but for many others throughout the state.
The ordinance in question repealed a pay-to-play ordinance that was originally passed on Aug. 19. That ordinance sought to bring the township’s political contributions policy in line with that of the state’s.
Controversy arose, however, when the details came out — contribution levels to candidates for council increased from $300 to $2,600 for professional business entities and from $500 to $7,200 for a political action committee. That’s a lot of money for a local election.
Not surprisingly, a committee of residents gathered almost 1,400 signatures opposing the ordinance, and fewer than two months later, it was off the township’s books.
We think this was a good move by the council. We’re all for pay-to-play ordinances that protect local towns from being run by outside influences such as corporations or other political entities. Local politics, more so than any other form of government, should be about the residents of the town.
Local elections should be about the candidates involved and what they will do for the town and its residents. Period. It shouldn’t be about what businesses want to see or “political machines” want to see. It’s about the people.
Ironically, we believe Moorestown’s initial contribution limits would be more effective in eliminating corruption than the pay-to-play ordinance the council passed in August. As such, we’re happy to see it was rescinded.
However, we do encourage the Moorestown council, and all local councils, commissions and committees in New Jersey, to pass regulations on contribution limits, if such regulations aren’t already on the books.
It’s election season, and as we watch debates and read about issues from candidates at the state level — and hear of even more trouble at the federal level — it’s hard not to lose confidence in the honesty and integrity of politics today.
But local elections and local politics don’t have to be that way, as long as we control it.