Mount Laurel holds special election on pay-to-play ordinance

Aim is to restrict campaign donations from vendors.

Mount Laurel held a special election on Feb. 1 for a pay-to-play ordinance that would limit campaign donations from companies who want to do business with the township. 

Late last July, a Committee of Petitioners successfully gathered the state law’s required amount of resident signatures in order to put a reformed ordinance before the township council. But council ultimately decided not to vote on it.  As a result, the ordinance was to be included in the township’s general election last November.

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Since it was not certified before Burlington County’s deadline in early July, the ordinance was deemed too late to be included on county mail-in ballots for the November election, ultimately leading to a special election.

Andy Gaus, a spokesperson for the Committee of Petitioners, said the ordinance was featured in the Feb. 1 special election as a result of the township and county’s failure to resolve an issue prior to the county deadline. Gaus explained the referendum will help assure residents that the township will hire vendors based on performance and not monetary contributions. 

“This is a good opportunity for Mount Laurel to clean up money in politics,” he said. “We don’t want council members to be under undue influence to decide who gets work in the township. We want it to be about who does a good job as opposed to just because they give the most money to the candidates for council.”

Unofficial results of the special election revealed that 86.43 percent of voters were in favor of the ordinance. Gaus said the special-election results provide evidence that there is disconnect between township voters and council members.

“With 86.5 percent of the votes cast supporting this ordinance, the Mt. Laurel council has proven that they are out of touch with their own constituents,” he noted.

“(Council is) demonstrating that they really don’t care about the people of Mt.  Laurel and only care about their own campaign.”

The official election results have been posted on the county website.

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