Board of Commissioners

New Jersey’s current system and organization of local government continues to have its basic roots in its early history as a colony. Located in the middle of the thirteen colonies, New Jersey’s early local governments adopted patterns of government which were a mix of those of her northern and southern neighbors. In the early 20th century, a national movement sought to take party politics out of local governments. 
Following that trend, Governor Woodrow Wilson signed the Walsh Act in 1911 (N.J.S.A. 40:70-1 et seq.), permitting municipalities to adopt the non-partisan commission form of government.

The commission form of government became an optional form for all of New Jersey's municipalities and this form rose in popularity. During the 1910s and 1920s over 60 municipalities, including most of the large cities, many older suburbs, and a number of seashore resorts, made the change. In the past 50 years, however, the trend has been reversed, and few large places now use this form of municipal government.

As of July 1, 2011, 30 places, with 4.1 percent of the state’s 2010 population, used the Commission Form of government.
Under the Commission Form the voters elect a three-member commission in places of less than 12,000 population and a five-member commission in larger places. A three-member commission may be increased to five through a petition and referendum process. Elections are all at large and are held on a nonpartisan basis in May, unless the municipal governing body has adopted an ordinance to hold the nonpartisan election at the time of the general election in November. When such a change has been made it must remain in effect for at least 10 years. Candidates are prohibited from adding a political party label to their names on the ballot. Commissioners serve four-year concurrent terms of office. The commissioners collectively constitute a board that is the legislative body of the municipality.

The executive function of the municipality is divided among the three commissioners, each of whom is the director of one of the municipal departments specified by law. Subordinate offices and agencies are assigned among the departments by the full board at its organization meeting. Thereafter, the power to appoint all subordinate personnel in each department rests with the commissioner in charge of that department. One commissioner is chosen by the board to serve for four years as the mayor and to preside over meetings of the board. The mayor is directed by law to “supervise” all departments, but there is no veto power, and judicial decisions have tended to regard each commissioner as supreme in his or her own department, so that the mayor’s supervisory authority depends more upon personal qualities than statutory authority.

The Board of Commissioners is as follows in Haddonfield:

Public Affairs and Public Safety: Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich, Esq.
Public Works, Parks & Property: Commissioner Frank Troy
Revenue and Finance: 

[Adapted and updated from Ernest C. Reock, Jr. and Raymond D. Bodnar, The Changing Structure of New Jersey Municipal Government, New Jersey County and Municipal Government Study Commission, April 1985.]