Councilwoman Gloria Taylor is fond of saying “you have to count to four” when quoting her late husband, former Mayor Richard Taylor.
Since Adrian Mapp has taken the Mayor’s Office, Assemblyman Jerry Green’s Regular Democratic Organization has been counting to five – five of seven votes on the City Council, that is. We’ve all seen how much this weakens the power of New Democrat Mayor Mapp.
With four seats up for grabs this year, and a combination of strong challengers and weak candidates, Green’s upper hand appears to be in jeopardy.
While the Assemblyman will continue to hold onto the Fourth, First and Fourth, and At-large seats, and his opposition has the Second Ward, the other three are up for grabs this year.
In the First Ward, Jerry Green is running Diane Tolliver for a four year term. I learned first hand the awful candidates that Jerry Green (then in conjunction with the New Democrats) is willing to put forth during last year’s Board of Education election, so I wasn’t too surprised by Mrs. Tolliver’s utterly lackluster speech at the Democratic City Committee meeting last month. Read the gems Mrs. Tolliver recounted to the crowd:
My name is Diane Brown Tolliver. I’ll be running for the first ward city council member. I am looking for a lot of support. My goals will be – to get Plainfield moving again. You know, you think about the past and it always brings the future, and I say to you tonight that we have to get going, and I think I’m a candidate that can help to get Plainfield going. I would be focused on what counts, and that’s the people. We have to build Plainfield as the Mayor just said, One Plainfield. Also, my goal is to bring about ratables and economic development in our city. If we don’t bring those things back, we can’t bring our city back. Economic development will help create jobs for those who are unemployed – those who don’t have jobs. That’s the first thing. If we bring ratables back into our city it will help to offset property taxes and give our citizens a break on the taxes that they have to pay. Another thing is affordable housing that’s desperately needed in our city. Housing that is affordable. We have a lot of empty houses in Plainfield and we want to put people back in those houses and bring in affordable housing. Another one of my goals is crime. We want to bring crime down in all wards, not just the first ward. I think together if we stand together, and work together, we can be together. My goal is to stay focused and be focused. I’m a wife just like some of you out there, I’m a mother, and I’m a business person. It took me a lot of hard work to get where I am. No one is gonna give you anything, but they’ll take a lot. If we stand together, we can get where we need to be. But if we divide we will fall. We want to give everybody a better quality of life.
Empty rhetoric, no solutions, and pretty awful aside from a couple of disturbingly vague nods towards three issues. Fortunately for the Democratic machine, in this political world of minimized accountability, how much sense you make in front of a crowd has little to do with who will win. Unfortunately for them, however, reputation does matter, and challenger Siddeeq El-Amin has long been active in Plainfield. He has a shot at victory if his fundraising and organization is in order. The New Dems would have been smarter to find a way to run Mr. El-Amin, who Mayor Mapp already attempted to appoint as Director of Public Safety, instead of relatively unknown long shot Emmett Swan.
For the Second and Third Ward four-year term, incumbent Rebecca Williams, a New Democrat, seems to be the clear favorite to hold onto her seat against RDO challenger Charles Eke.
The Third Ward, two-year unexpired term of Adrian Mapp should make for an interesting race, with incumbent RDO appointee and former First Lady of Plainfield Gloria Taylor facing off against New Democrat Charles McRae, an involved citizen and Muhlenberg Hospital advocate who serves as Vice President of the Cedarbrook Block Association. It certainly could go either way, especially with wildcard Rasheed Abdul Haqq whose candidacy could effect their Taylor or McRae in a race with such a traditionally poor turnout.
You never really know how these things will play out, but usually you have a pretty good idea, and it’s clear that despite customary placement on line “A” things are looking a bit shaky for the Democratic machine this time around.
One wonders what Green’s opponents would do with their newly found power should Jerry Green find himself counting to three come 2015 – particularly the New Democrats who have already shown their willingness to collude with those more powerful than them when it’s politically expedient to do so. That, however, is another discussion – for another day.
I am interested in hearing all candidates’ ideas, and intend to cover the elections as closely as I can.