Is West New York better suited for mayor-council? One resident believes it is

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West New York resident Jose Alcantara laid out his argument as to why he believes a mayor-council form of government is superior to a board of commissioners during last night’s meeting. 

“Throughout the course of my education, and through extensive research, I’ve learned that a commission form of government doesn’t provide the best form of representation and very inefficient,” he said during last night’s regularly scheduled commissioners meeting.

“A commission form of government is an outdated form of government, as most of us know, and is tailored for a community that has 5,000 residents or less. Subsequent to that, we all know that the population of West New York is over 50,000 residents.”

He continued that in the mayor-council form of government, council member are not directors of a municipal department – which is the case in the board of commissioners form of government.

Alcantara also said that out of 565 municipalities in New Jersey, only five still utilize the commissioner form of government (two of which are also in North Hudson: Union City and North Bergen).

Furthermore, he requested to have the commissioners introduce a resolution that would add a November ballot question allowing residents to decide if they wanted to switch to mayor-council.

That request was not honored, but Mayor Felix Roque explained why it was a heavy ask.

“The reality is that this is something that we have a good working relationship. I know in 2013 [the board of education] used to be appointed and it became elected. It’s working out, but this is something we would need to consider,” the mayor stated.

“A mayor and commissioner[s]: it’s working so far. To consider it, it’s something we’d have to take our time: we can’t just jump into something that is like an unknown.”

Spearheading the Residents for a Better West New York group in 2013, Alcantara was a big part of the West New York BOE becoming an elected board by an overwhelming 4-to-1 margin.

He ran for the board in 2016, losing a very competitive race where the third and fifth place finishers were separated by just 10 votes.

The board of commissioners took no formal action regarding mayor-council and the Hudson County Clerk’s Office did not return an email asking how many signatures would be necessary to get the question on the fall ballot.