Edison Council takes stand on partisan politics

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EDISON – With the vote to table a resolution providing Township Council consent to a mayor’s appointment to the Technical Review Committee until after the Edison Democratic [EDO] nomination screening, members of the Township Council, who have all been nominated and endorsed by the EDO, are taking a stand on partisan politics.

Councilman Sam Joshi said he viewed the vote as a “conflict of interest” at a meeting on Feb 27.

“It’s the process and these types of votes that jade the public’s perception of government politics,” he said.

Joshi said since he was endorsed by the EDO, his voice in favor of tabling the vote is a bit strange; however, he said he does not support hyper partisanship and political favoritism.

“We have to start now and not put it off,” he said. “There is nothing against this individual … let’s do better in the township with politics.”

The township was considering a resolution to provide its consent to the mayor’s appointment for Deepak Belani to the Technical Review Committee (TRC). Belani would serve as a citizen member to the eight member committee.

Business Administrator Maureen Ruane said the citizen member has been vacant for many years. It’s the only TRC member who needs consent from the council. The committee has two zoning members, one environmental commission member, one citizen along with the township professionals.

The TRC reviews all applications for development presented to the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Joshi asked his fellow council members to either abstain from voting on individuals directly involved in the voting of one’s nomination within the 156-member Democratic Party, form a general set of guidelines and qualifications for board members, or table the vote until after the EDO nomination screening on March 14.

After a lengthy discussion, council members approved to table the resolution until March 27.

Councilman Robert Diehl said the timing of the resolution is a conflict, not the individual for the position.

Township attorney Leslie London said she, along with Township Attorney William Northgrave, reviewed the issue and standards and concluded there was no conflict with the council voting on the resolution.

Diehl and Joshi said they disagreed with the township attorney’s conclusion of the matter.

Council Vice President Ajay Patil and Councilman Joe Coyle urged the council to form a committee to form policy and guidelines for how the council handles the vetting of interested candidates to boards and committees.

Council President Alvaro Gomez said one thing he stresses the council keep in mind is the council does not want to discourage anyone from volunteering for a board or committee.

“At the end of the day whatever process we decide as a council, let’s please take into consideration that individual is just looking to get involved,” he said. “We need to be fair to them.”