Getting involved in local government

What’s the local government like in Montclair?

The Township of Montclair has a Mayor and Township Council, who are all elected for 4 years. The Township Council is made up for 4 council people who represent each of the 4 wards in Montclair and 2 at-large council people who represent the whole town.

The Mayor presides over council meetings and appoints the public library trustees, the historic preservation commissioners, and the board of education members.

The Township Council passes ordinances, which are like municipalities’ laws, on issues such as the town budget, building issues, affordable housing, and more. They can also provide constituent services, helping town residents access assistance for certain issues, and lobby to the county and state government on issues that affect the township and its residents.

Anyone can watch a Township Council meeting on TV, on channel 34, or on the Township’s YouTube channel. For more information on the Township Council, including meeting times, visit the Council calendar.

Montclair also has a Township Manager, who is the chief executive and administrative officer of the municipality. The Manager is appointed by the council and their function is to carry out the will of the council. They’re in charge of the township departments, like animal control, fire department, parking utility, police department, and sewer utility.

How can I express my views to the local government?

Council people want the hear from residents! For many of them, the best way to get in touch is by email. You can find their contact information by clicking on their names on the Township Council page of the town website. Remember: you can contact both the council person representing your ward and the council people at-large, who represent the whole town.

You can also speak during a Township Council meeting, during the public comment period of each meeting.

During the pandemic, Township Council meetings are virtual and residents who want to give a public comment call in. You can find meeting dates, time, and agendas on the Council calendar. The meeting agenda tells you what topics will be discussed at any particular meeting, and also includes the call in information. If you have any questions, you can call the Township at 973-744-1400.

You’ll only have a few minutes to speak. Come prepared to make your point clearly, concisely, and powerfully. You’re certainly able to speak just for yourself; however one council person told us that, when presenting to the council on an issue, it’s most powerful to organize a diverse coalition of residents who show up at the same meeting and all speak on the issue. If you’d like more advice about preparing to make a public comment at a town council meeting, check out this article.

How else can I get involved in local government?

Montclair also has numerous Advisory Committees, Boards, and Commissions that residents can join, to give their input and advise the Town Council. They include (but aren’t limited to):

  • The Arts Advisory Committee advises the Town Council on arts issues, like space, services, funding, advocacy, and arts education, to promote cultural enrichment, education, and a strong economy in town.
  • The Civil Rights Commission recommends programs designed to eliminate discrimination, addresses problems involving tensions in the community, and reviews the Affirmative Action Policy.
  • The Environmental Commission guides the Township to reduce carbon emissions, build climate resilience, advance environmental justice, and protect our living environment.
  • The Housing Commission implements the Township’s Affordable Housing Strategy and works with local non-profit housing organizations to advance affordable housing initiatives.
  • The Montclair Community Intervention Alliance administers a State-funded grant supporting local groups that promote substance abuse prevention and advises the Town Council on related matters.
  • The Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee advises the Town Council on the renovation and maintenance of facilities like parks, playgrounds, public pools, and the ice skating arena; recreation programs; and special events.
  • The Pedestrian Safety Committee carries out the “Drive with Care in Montclair” campaign, encouraging safe driving behaviors through a variety of media including banners, flyers and a forum on traffic safety.
  • The People with Disabilities Committee, composed of people with disabilities, parents of disabled children, and representatives from organizations that serve the disabled, recommends programs, policies, and legislation that benefit individuals with disabilities.
  • The Public Transportation Advisory Committee focuses on issues relating to commuter bus and train service and oversight of the evening shuttle service.
  • The Senior Citizens Advisory Committee assesses services and issues important to Township seniors and makes recommendations to the Town Council and staff on programs and policies.

Anyone can watch a Board or Commission meeting on TV, on channel 34, or on the Township’s YouTube channel. For more information on Advisory Committees, Boards, and Commissions, including meeting times or how to apply to be on one, visit the Township website here and here.