Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The November Election

Maybe its the history of fighting political factions in Plainfield. Or maybe its bad feelings in the aftermath of a spirited mayoral contest. Whatever the reason, I have heard that some local politicians are concerned that I am not supporting the Democratic ticket in the November election.

I am a Democrat, always have been and always will be. I am disappointed in the local primary election outcome. But that is water under the bridge now that the primary election is over. I am supporting the whole Democratic ticket from Governor Jon Corzine on down. That includes Mayor Robinson-Briggs.

More than ever, Plainfield needs all levels of government to work together for the good of the city. One example is the need for City Council and the Mayors office to work as partners to engage the community in creating a vision for our Downtown train station area and the whole rail corridor. There is no other way forward for Plainfield.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Victory for Plainfield

Readers have probably seen Rashid Burney's blog on the sale of the Catherine Webster Home on Franklin Place. His kind words about the selling agent are deserved (Lois Mattson is that agent -she happens to be my wife). Considering the flack she took during the lengthy sales process (2 years!) Rashids' comments are appreciated by my family.

At the risk of sounding self interested, I feel compelled to say a few things in response to those who made unfair accusations about Lois and her role in the sale:

1. To Jerry Green who made tasteless and untrue insinuations about my "real estate family", if you were more in touch with your community, you would know that there is no-one more dedicated to her community than Lois. She has never asked for recognition for the volunteer work she has done over 30 years for the Plainfield Youth Soccer Club, the Plainfield YWCA, the Plainfield Symphony and the Cook School Parent-Teacher Organization, to name a few of her causes. Assemblyman -Lois and I are still waiting for an apology.

2. To the Crescent Ave neighbors who pressured the city and the Webster Home owner to address property code violations, you were right to express those concerns and it was to Lois' credit that she did not take those complaints directed at her personally. She was not the owner but as the owners realtor, she did everything she could to deal with those concerns. I think we can all agree that the new owners intention to make the Webster Home a single family home is a near miraculous outcome. They will be responsible for code compliance and I believe they have a serious commitment to improvement of their new property and the neighborhood as a whole.

3. Lois was bound, as a realtor, to keep certain real estate information confidential during this lengthy sales process. Some criticized her for not violating her business code of ethics because they did not understand. Others did understand but criticized anyway.

I look forward to meeting the new owners and wish them success as new neighbors. The Crescent Avenue neighborhood has had its ups and downs over the years. The soon to be renamed Catherine Webster Home is an encouraging example of how this neighborhood can be revitalized, much like the property around the corner on East 7th Street renovated by Faith, Bricks and Mortar. Our new neighbors have gone through an arduous process to buy their home and if they are as persistent as Lois in meeting their goal, the Crescent Avenue neighborhood will be moving in a positive direction.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Plainfield Primary Election - what does it mean?

The people have spoken. In this case I am referring to the people of the Democratic Party. Sharon Robinson - Briggs won. Congratulations to her and to Bridget Rivers, our incoming 4th Ward Council representative. Jerry Green also won and although he may face a bit more competition in November, he has to be the heavy favorite to win.

Here is how I see it. I will try not to spin this as heavily as some have done, but readers know my bias.

1. Assembly - Jerry Green received roughly twice as many votes as Rick Smiley. Jerry received 38% of the total votes and Rick had 18%. Rick ran a campaign with very little money and he concentrated almost entirely on one town in the election district - Plainfield. His Plainfield total was very close to Assemblyman Green's, a remarkable achievement in my opinion. I looked at the Senate and Assembly races state-wide. Of all the Democratic races, Rick Smiley had the highest percentage of votes of any challenger. This seat is up again in two years. The Assemblyman has some serious exposure.

2. Mayor - another close race. Along with Smiley, Adrian Mapp had much less money and a disadvantageous ballot position. For those of you who did not vote (shame on you), column B had the Governor, state legislative, state committee, Freeholder, Mayor and local committee candidates. Column F, all the way over to the right, had Smiley, Mapp and one or two local committee candidates. Visually a real advantage to the incumbents. The bottom line is that Mayor Sharon gets another 4 years. I hope she is thinking about doing more than counting to 4 votes on this years City Council, considering what the future will bring.

3. Plainfield Democratic City Committee - the New Democrats held 10 seats in the outgoing committee and will now have 28 seats. There are 68 seats and 35 are needed to elect the new chairman. It would appear that Jerry Green will continue as chair. This is the most powerful position in Plainfield politics although Jerry does not like me to say it. He is sensitive to the term "boss" when applied to him. When I say it, I do not mean to insult but merely to call it what it is. An interesting test of how much a boss Jerry is will be the approach he takes at the City Committee re-organization meeting this coming Monday. I have asked him to have the election of chairman done by secret ballot. Then if Jerry's 40 votes hold, he can claim that the committee members truly support him for reasons other than intimidation.

4. Bob Ferraro and Tom Turner for Mayor got virtually no votes. It is widely believed that Bob was running as a favor to Jerry Green. You may remember my comments from a previous blog.

5. I thought Carol Brokaw for Mayor would do much better than the results showed. Was it the PMUA concerns or that she hardly campaigned. Probably both, I think.

6. The Martin Cox mayoral campaign would be an interesting story if I knew for sure why he ran. Time may tell.

I am feeling more hopeful for Plainfield even though the people I supported did not win. I was part of a campaign that affirmed the goodness, talent and commitment in Plainfield that I have always appreciated. To my fellow campaign team members: there is no losing team I would rather be on than this team. Let's win next time.