Walsh Act

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Traditional types
Borough Township
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Modern forms
Walsh Act commission
1923 municipal manager
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The Walsh Act is legislation in the U.S. state of New Jersey that permits municipalities to adopt a non-partisan commission form of government. The legislation was signed by Governor of New Jersey Woodrow Wilson on April 25, 1911. The commissions in Walsh Act municipalities are composed of either three or five members elected for four-year concurrent terms. The commissioners also serve as department heads in addition to their legislative functions. The commissioners elect one commissioner as mayor, who serves as chair of the commission. With few exceptions, Walsh Act mayors have no powers over and above their fellow commissioners, and are only responsible for their specific department(s).

The Walsh Act was modeled on the commission system that was set up in Galveston, Texas in the wake of the devastating Hurricane of 1900. As part of its reconstruction efforts, the city reorganized itself to a government system in which each elected official had a specific area of responsibility, combining executive and legislative responsibilities. The Walsh Act was enacted in 1911, and specified that commissioners would be elected at large in nonpartisan elections, and would serve four-year, concurrent terms of office. The Walsh Act was the first charter law in New Jersey to include options for ballot initiatives, referendums and recall.[1]

The popularity of the Walsh Act form of government declined from a peak of about 60 in the early years after it was created to a total of approximately 30 statewide in 2018, of which six in North Jersey and the remainder are largely in shore communities.[2]

Municipalities with a five member commission[edit]

These communities have five commissioners:

Municipality County Year
Lyndhurst Township Bergen 1913
Millville City Cumberland 1913
North Bergen Township Hudson 1931
Nutley Township Essex 1912
Ridgefield Park Village Bergen 1912
Union City Hudson 1930
West New York Town Hudson 1931

Municipalities with a three member commission[edit]

These communities have three commissioners:

Municipality County Year
Allenhurst Borough Monmouth 1916
Audubon Borough Camden 1921
Avon-by-the-Sea Borough Monmouth 1919
Bass River Township Burlington 1972
Beach Haven Borough Ocean 1946
Bordentown City Burlington 1913
Bradley Beach Borough Monmouth 1915
Cape May Point Borough Cape May 1916
Collingswood Borough Camden 1917
Deal Borough Monmouth 1912
Haddon Township Camden 1950
Haddonfield Borough Camden 1913
Harvey Cedars Borough Ocean 1923
Long Beach Township Ocean 1936
Longport Borough Atlantic 1912
Margate City Atlantic 1911
Monmouth Beach Borough Monmouth 1929
Mount Ephraim Borough Camden 1935
Pine Valley Borough Camden 1942
Sea Isle City Cape May 1913
Tavistock Borough Camden 1928
Ventnor City Atlantic 1968
West Cape May Borough Cape May 1948
West Wildwood Borough Cape May 1964
Wildwood Crest Borough Cape May 1937

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wolfe, Albert J. "A HISTORY OF MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT IN NEW JERSEY SINCE 1798", New Jersey State League of Municipalities. Accessed April 30, 2008.
  2. ^ Proctor, Owen; and Sobko, Katie. "Town commissions have become a New Jersey rarity", The Record (Bergen County), April 30, 2018, updated May 6, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2019. "Commissions rose in popularity, up to 60 statewide in the early part of the last century, from large cities and older suburbs to seaside resorts.... Today, only about 30 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities are commissions, including six in North Jersey. There are North Bergen, Union City and West New York in Hudson County, Lyndhurst and Ridgefield Park in Bergen County, and Nutley in Essex County."

External links[edit]