A ward is a district within a town that elects its own Town Council member.
The Ward System is the form of representative government most familiar to everyone, since it mirrors the way members of Congress and the New York and Rockland County Legislatures are chosen. The area being governed is broken up into many districts – each having approximately the same population. Each person lives in one of those districts and the people in each district elect a single representative to participate in government on their behalf.
By law, towns in New York initially have an At Large System for choosing its Town Council – unless the people of the town vote to change that system (as you are being asked to do now). At Large means that the entire population of the town votes to select who will fill each and every town council seat. In the current system, every council member is responsible to represent the needs and wishes of all of the people in the entire town, not just the people living in one area of the town. At least that is the theory.
By changing to the Ward System, each council member will have a mandate to represent the one ward (district) of the town that elected them rather than the entire town at large. Each district gets its own dedicated voice in town government. Read more on Why a Ward System for Ramapo.
In either the Ward or At Large systems of town government, the Town Supervisor is elected At Large – by all voters in the town. The Town Supervisor votes to break any ties on the Town Council. Since there are only 4 or 6 council members, ties are likely, so the Supervisor effectively has an equal vote to the elected council members. Of course, ties can only occur when differing viewpoints exist on the Town Council. Read more on Why increase to 6 council members.
Want even more information?
- NY Department of State Office of Legal Counsel: http://www.dos.ny.gov/cnsl/lg01.htm
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_divisions_of_New_York
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wards_of_the_United_States
- 2013 Information for Town Officials – http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/townoff/ito.pdf
- Ramapo is 8th largest Town in NY State: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_towns_in_New_York
- Town of Bethleham white page on going to Ward System:
- Town of Ramapo Code on Ward System: http://www.ecode360.com/11856032?highlight=wards,ward#11856032
- N.Y. TWN. LAW § 81 : NY Code – Section 81: Election upon proposition: