Linden Democratic Comm. v. City of Linden

The New Jersey Appellate Division reviewed an order of the Chancery Division, requiring that a particular person be seated immediately to fill a vacant city council position. The dispute arose over the interpretation of the Municipal Vacancy Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:16-1 to -23. To resolve the conflict, the Appellate Division dove into the legislators’ intent in implementing Section 5 and Section 11 of the law. The Court admitted that it could not “divine with absolute certitude what the Legislature intended by enacting” the provisions. The Court held that Section 5 requires a vacancy in an unexpired council term shall be filled at the next general election. However, the governing body may fill the vacancy temporarily by appointment. Section 11 and the party committee’s role in filling any vacancy are not triggered unless the governing body first chooses, in its discretion, to fill the seat temporarily.

City-of-Linden