ASBURY PARK - Some residents of Asbury Park's West Side have been going door-to-door to get signatures for a referendum.
Their grassroots movement aims to change the city's form of government. They want the city broken up into six wards, with a council member representing each ward, and three additional council members at large. A mayor would be elected separately by voters. The city currently has five council members at large, and they decide which one of them becomes mayor.
Duanne Small, a local contractor, started the petition, asking, "Where is the leadership for the West Side?" He says he's submitted 97 pages of signatures to the city clerk. The clerk tells News 12 New Jersey that he's in the process of checking each name out to make sure they are registered voters. If 1,600 of them check out, there would be a special election in May.
Mayor Ed Johnson says, "As a political science teacher, I think it's great that they have this effort. And I am confident the people of Asbury Park will decide what's best for the City." The mayor did, however, say he takes issue with comments about a lack of work in the West Side.
Johnson says more has been done for the West Side in the last 10 years than has been done in the past 60 years. He says the East Side is the "economic engine" that helps pay for work on the West Side. He cited several recent projects and infrastructure work on the West Side, including putting in new sidewalks, storm drains, and curbs.