Need for Millville election unclear

Whether Millville will have a general election this year remained unclear this week, as the filing deadline for town council candidacy — today, Friday, Feb. 2 — loomed. But there will be voting in the town on March 3, regardless, with a referendum set for property owners to vote on a possible de-annexation of portions of the Lord Baltimore Elementary School property.

The school property has been under three different sets governmental control over the years — parts annexed in to Ocean View, parts in unincorporated Sussex County and parts inside Millville.

Recently, Ocean View annexed the county portions of the property, allowing its renovations to move ahead more smoothly last year. Now, Millville property owners will consider whether the remaining small portion of the school property not in Ocean View should be de-annexed by Millville so that Ocean View can finally annex the entirety of the school grounds.

That will mean a dedicated voting machine at Millville Town Hall for the referendum when voting starts on Saturday, March 3 — simply because the pool of voters in the annexation referendum is different from that in a general election that may or may not be held on that day.

Eligible voters in the referendum include all property owners, whether an individual, partnership, a corporation or other entity, both in the Town of Millville and in the territory proposed to be de-annexed, who have one vote.

Every resident of either the Town of Millville or of the territory proposed to be de-annexed, who is over the age of 18 and who is not a property owner also has one vote.

In the case of property owned by more than one person, firm, corporation or other entity or any combination thereof, whether as tenants in common, joint tenants, or as tenants by the entireties, each such joint owner has one vote.

Three file for council seats

Meanwhile, only residents of Millville who are 18 or older as of March 3 are eligible to vote in a general election, and they would vote on a separate voting machine on that day, if a general election is held at all in the town this year.

As of Jan. 31, it was unclear whether that narrower pool of voters would be specifically called out in March. Three candidates had filed for council seats as of Wednesday, with the seats of current members Richard Thomas, Tim Droney and Don Minyon up for grabs in this odd-numbered year. (Deputy-Mayor Joan Bennett and Councilman Jerry Hocker were unopposed in 2006. Their seats will be up for re-election in 2008.)

Interim-Mayor Droney, a 19-year councilman who became the acting executive of the town when former Mayor Gary Willey resigned upon moving outside town limits last year, is out of town for an extended period and was not expected to return prior to March 3. (Bennett has been serving as acting mayor in his absence.)

Droney could not be reached for comment this week, and thus the issue of whether or not he will file to continue on the council at all remained up in the air.

Minyon has already filed to run in 2007. He was appointed by the four other council members to fill the seat Willey left open, but that term concludes with this year’s elections. After less than a year in office, Minyon has taken the lead with the town’s revitalized annexation committee and was noticeably eager to get citizens more involved with the town’s decision making at that committee’s most recent meeting.

If elected to a full two-year term on the council, Minyon told the Coastal Point this week, “I’m looking forward to continuing to update the zoning regulations that we’ve been working on this year. I’m also looking forward to our five-year comprehensive plan, which we’ll be starting in the spring.”

Thomas has also filed for a possible re-election in 2007. In March of 2005, he was sworn in to fill the seat of Councilman Bill Lee, which was left vacant after Lee’s death in 2004. He has been a voice of concern for the impact of large new development on the town’s existing areas and citizens, as well as the Millville Volunteer Fire Company.

The third and final candidate to have filed as of Wednesday for a Millville Town Council Seat is Kami Banks, who served on the town’s Centennial Celebration committee last year. The committee organized the parade and other festivities related to 2006’s 100th anniversary of Millville’s incorporation.

The deadline to file to run for a council seat this year is Friday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. The qualifications for Town Council member include being a resident of the town for at least 90 days prior to the election and being at least 18 years old. Candidate applications are to be filed with the town hall by the close of business. There is a $100 filing fee.

If no other candidates file by Friday afternoon, the three candidates who have filed will be elected to serve by default and no general election will be held on March 3. Voters will still turn out on that day for the referendum on the de-annexation question, however.

Election times for the referendum are set by town charter, for 1 to 5 p.m. on that day. A general election, according to the town charter, would be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., if it is to be held at all this year.