LOCAL GOVERNMENT EDUCATION

It can be overwhelming for any resident to stay attuned to the goings-on of local government.  Most people don't know the difference between their Mayor and Council, the boards created by the Mayor  Council, and the local Board of Education.  And then there is the distinction between elected officials and appointed officials for which residents must contend.  In our ongoing effort to assist North Caldwell residents to stay informed and engaged with our local government and ensure they are always carrying out the will of the residents, within the bounds of federal and New Jersey law, below is a quick summary of each of the public entities or bodies that every resident must know.  

Borough of North Caldwell Mayor & Council

  • What is this entity?:  This public entity known as the Mayor & Council consists of seven (7) elected officials, one mayor and six council members.  The mayor's term is four years with no term limits, and a council member's term is three years with no term limits.  Each year, two of the six council member's expire, which is why every year residents must vote in the November general election for two council members.  These are partisan elections each year meaning that if a candidate is running as a Republican or Democrat, they must engage in the primary process that culminates in the primary election each June.  If the candidate is running as an unaffiliated candidate, they must gather enough signatures on a petition to add them to the general election ballot each November.  

  • What does this entity do?: the Council (not the Mayor) is authorized by New Jersey statute to adopt laws (known as ordinances) and resolutions to govern our Borough.  The only time the Mayor has a vote on these laws and resolutions is in the event of a tie vote on the Council (3-3).  The Mayor, pursuant to statute, has other powers to appoint, subject to the Council's consent, various officials and representatives to carry out the operations of the Borough.   The police department, fire department, public works department, recreation department, and several exist under and ultimately report to the Mayor & Council.   If you were to summarize  the predominant role of this public entity: keep up safe, keep our town clean, keeps our roads open, and provide residents recreation facilities and opportunities.  

North Caldwell Board of Education (grades K-6)

  • What is this entity?: This public entity, known as the North Caldwell Public Schools, consists of five (5) elected officials.  This public body is completely separate and independent from the Mayor & Council and does not answer to the Mayor & Council.  Each elected official's term is three (3) years with no term limits.  Each year, one or two of the elected official's terms expires, which is why every year residents must vote in the November general election for one to two board of education members.  These are non-partisan elections each year meaning that there is no primary process and a candidate does not run for office as part of a Republican or Democrat ticket.  Instead, by the end of July (for 2021, it's July 26), a candidate must submit a petition with enough signatures to be placed on the general election ballot in November.  

  • What does this entity do?: the North Caldwell Board of Education is responsible for the education of the children in our town, grades K-6.  The board must act within the bounds of New Jersey Constitution and statutes relating to education and regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Education.   If you were to summarize the predominant role of this public entity: educate our children.  

West Essex Board of Education (grades 7-12)

  • What is this entity?: This public entity, known as the West Essex Regional School District, consists of nine (9) elected officials representing the four towns that comprise this regional school district.  North Caldwell has three seats, Fairfield has three seats, Roseland has one seat, and Essex Fells has one seat.  Each elected official's term is three years with no term limits.  North Caldwell residents only vote for the three North Caldwell seats.  These are non-partisan elections each year that a term ends meaning that there is no primary process and a candidate does not run for office as part of a Republican or Democrat ticket.  Instead, by the end of July (for 2021, it's July 26), a candidate must submit a petition with enough signatures to be placed on the general election ballot in November.  

  • What does this entity do?: The West Essex Board of Education is responsible for the education of the children in our town, grades 7-12.  The board must act within the bounds of New Jersey Constitution and statutes relating to education and regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Education.   If you were to summarize the predominant role of this public entity: educate our children.

Zoning Board of Adjustment

  • What is this entity?: this board consists of nine appointed members (two of who are alternates to the seven member board when necessary).  All of these members are appointed by the Mayor to three year terms with no term limits, which are staggered so each year the Mayor will re-appoint or appoint new members to the expiring term.  

  • What does this entity do?: This board exists to hear certain types of land use (i.e., development) applications from homeowners and developers.  Typically, this board will hear applications for use variances (i.e., a property owner or developer wants to build or expand upon a use that is not permitted in the particular zone).  For example, if the zone permits only single family houses, but a developer or owner wants to construct a two or three family house, this board determines whether or not to grant a use variance.  

Planning Board

  • What is this entity?: this board consists of nine appointed members (two of who are alternates to the seven member board when necessary).  All of these members are appointed by the Mayor to three year terms with no term limits, which are staggered so each year the Mayor will re-appoint or appoint new members to the expiring term.  By state statute, the Mayor is a member of this board, as well as another member of the Council selected by the Council, as well as another public official (non-elected) selected by the Mayor.  

  • What does this entity do?: This board exists to hear all land use applications of any kind, except those specifically required by statute to be heard by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.