BRIGANTINE, N.J. — In what Mayor J. Edward Kline acknowledged was a referendum on his leadership, voters Tuesday in this island town north of Atlantic City junked the commission form of municipal government for a city council system.
The final vote was 1,866 to 1,818.
Kline, who also lost a bid for a third term in the Assembly on Tuesday, had told voters: “If you want to vote me out of office, vote me out of office, but don’t change the form of government.” He had not been up for local election.
Kline had come under intense criticism in July for arranging for the city to pay $1.5 million for land partly owned by former Mayor John Rogge. The city later withdrew its offer.
There were claims of favoritism in zoning approvals and building code enforcement, and complaints that when residents asked Kline about council votes, he replied with personal attacks. Kline also ordered that anyone seeking public records make a written request.
The change in government was sought by Brigantine Effort for Government Improvement (BEGIN), whose president is Emmett Turner, publisher of the Beachcomber News.
Turner said he has been repeatedly urged to run for the new council, but ”at this point I have no intention of doing it.”
Kline said, “I have to take a long, hard look” at whether to run.
The change of government will take 14 months.