Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) is introducing legislation that would prohibit paid municipal jobs going to local elected officials in the same municipality.
Bergen cited a political rival, Mine Hill GOP Mayor Sam Morris, who earns four paychecks totaling $137,957 as the business administrator, water administrator and special district administrator in the township of 3,651 residents.
“This legislation shouldn’t be necessary, but it is because people are using their public position to take advantage of the system for personal gain. It’s disappointing,” said Bergen.
New Jersey eliminated dual officeholder more than a decade ago – some legislators are grandfathered in and continue to hold two elected offices – but there is no prohibition against a mayor serving as his or her own administrator.
“If a mayor or other member of the governing body thinks they are the best fit for a paid position in the town, then they should take that position and resign as the elected official. It’s that simple,” said Bergen, a freshman legislator. “Sometimes they make the argument that they are ‘saving the town money’, but the fact is they are depriving them of multiple opinions and points of view. That makes the town worse off, not better.”