Letter to the editor: Township representation

The writer says township residents would be better represented by five wards

Who represents the residents and voters in Gloucester County municipalities? A municipality’s type of government determines the number of councilpersons. The county has 22 municipalities; townships, boroughs and a city. The 11 boroughs, averaging 8,700 citizens, elect a mayor and six councilpersons. Glassboro has 18,000 residents, or a councilperson per 3,000 residents.

The townships have five councilpersons and a mayor; exceptions are the townships of Deptford, Franklin and Monroe. Deptford elects seven councilpersons. Franklin Township elects eight council members by five wards and three members at large. Monroe Township has seven council members, which are elected from four wards and three at large votes. These townships have a population average of 27,530, represented by a ratio of 22 councilpersons to 1,250 citizens.

Washington Township’s 48,000 citizens, the largest township in the county, have five councilpersons representing a ratio of 9,600 citizens. The council seats are elected at large from 39 voting districts. The council representation could possibly be next-door neighbors. Which township area do they come from; Birches, Whitman Square, Bells Lake, Bunker Hill or Heritage Valley?

Washington Township’s ratio would be better represented if there were five wards. The wards could encompass voting districts grouped to represent proportions of the township’s population. Councilpersons would be elected by the majority vote within a ward. The mayor would continue to be elected by an at-large vote. Under a system of wards, voters of the municipality are represented by a councilperson. The current five councilpersons from 39 voting districts do not assure or provide resident voters relative representation.

Of course the above could be applied to the county freeholder representation.

Gerald Keer