Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thank You Plainfield Voters

My post election thoughts:

I thank my supporters from the bottom of my heart. I have been in five 2nd ward elections now and none were easy. I feel very fortunate to live in a place where so many people have a real passion for their town.

Once the anxiety and excitement wore off, and very quickly I should add, my thoughts turned to what the voters are saying. The 2nd ward Democratic Council race should be particularly instructive since it was the only local race that was contested. I received around two thirds of the votes. That means a significant percentage of voters did not support the incumbent(me). This reflects how residents feel, not only about their councilman but city government in general. One third of the voters are not happy with our services. We need to do better.

Even more important, the turnout was low, even for an off year. Are many people satisfied and therefore not motivated to vote? Or are they feeling nothing will change. I think some of both. The bottom line: we should not be satisfied with the election results and we should dedicate ourselves to the improvement of Plainfield.

For the most part I thought it was an issues oriented campaign. I stuck to my plan to talk about solutions. My opponent made some good points about economic development and ran an energetic campaign. I credit him for his passion. It got the best of him twice, once when he got very personal with a blogger who had, in my opinion, expressed his opinion about my opponent in a non-personal manner. Even more unfortunate was the election day exploitation of Park Hotel residents to make a political point that had no basis in reality. The voters did not buy it. I feel that my opponent is a good man and I hope he is re-evaluating this tactic. I also hope that like the rest of us candidates for public office, he is learning from his mistakes. I hope he will stay involved.

I am glad to put all that campaign energy back into my Council job and will do everything I can to earn your confidence.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Plainfield's Assets

Plainfield will reach it's full potential by building on strengths. Highlighting our problems without working on solutions will only bring us more bad Courier News coverage. So beware politicians who only play to your frustrations and fears...on the national and state levels and on the local level.

What are Plainfield's assets? Lets start with people. We are much more diverse than any surrounding towns. When our downtown reflects that diversity ethnically and socio-economically, we can make the central business district a regional destination point, a place where cultures meet. A place for people looking for interesting shops, restaurants and cultural/arts experiences. Let's stop saying that we can't compete with Blue Star and Watchung Mall shopping centers on Rt 22. Yes, they offer convenience but there is no excitement up there, no real appeal.

Can we really create some excitement in our downtown? If you realize that we are part of the way there already, the answer is clear. Some of our downtown assets are ethnic restaurants, North Avenue Historic district architecture and eye catching streetscape design. We have Swains,the best art gallery/frame shop in New Jersey,on the edge of downtown. We have a college campus. We have a beautifully restored train station with 900 riders per day. These are assets to build on.

^^who says we don't have downtown nightlife

The news media make much of our crime problems. We can get caught in the trap of learned hopelessness when we accept the outsider view of Plainfield. We should know better. We have some of the best residential neighborhoods in the greater Union County area. If you haven't looked around, take my word for it. I drive and bicycle across the county to Elizabeth 5 days a week. I've seen the whole county, nearly every block of it. Plainfield has the best residential areas, bar none.

We know what we have to do in Plainfield: improve ourselves, one child, one house, one block at a time. We have to start from strengths. No young person ever became successful through constant criticism. It takes a celebration of what's good, coupled with thoughtful constructive criticism. It takes persistent action over time. That's how Plainfield has come back this far and it is the only way we will continue to move ahead.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Election Season Debates

Do they affect the outcome of local elections? Who knows. One thing I can say with confidence is that Wednesday's 2nd Ward City Council candidates debate, sponsored by the Crescent Ave Neighborhood Association, was issues oriented. That is a big plus for Plainfield. My compliments to my two opponents and most of all to the audience of 60 residents, who provided intelligent questions to the candidates.

Meaningful input from residents on public safety, taxes, development and other important topics is the force that makes local government more effective. I want to acknowledge the efforts of Maria Pellum, from the Crescent Ave neighborhood association, who is working hard to increase the lines of communication between city hall and Plainfield citizens.