I support John Campbell for Second Ward City Council, but before we get there, I’d like to clear something up.
Unchallenged internet fabrications are too often accepted as truths, even from reputed rags like Plainfield Today. Dan Damon’s tabloid-like blog erroneously reported that John Campbell Jr’s campaign was breaking the rules in hosting a fall fair on the grounds of Cook Elementary School.
In reality, City Council candidate John Campbell, Jr. made no mistake by scheduling a political event on school property.
Plainfield Board of Education policy, and the law, only prohibit political functions when school, or school events, are taking place. For example, one could not legally hold a function on the Board-owned Donald van Blake Tennis Courts during a home football game, nor at Cook School while classes or parent teacher conferences are in session.
This is designed so that political groups are not allowed to capitalize from congregation related to non-partisan school activity. Otherwise, schools are more than able to permit any group to use their facilities.
Readers may have heard of P.L. 2011 c.204, signed into law by Chris Christie in 2012. It states that:
“No candidate, or holder of elective public office or that candidate’s agent or representative may solicit campaign contributions, directly or indirectly, on property owned or leased by the State, or by any county, municipality, board of education of a school district, fire district, authority, or any other instrumentality of the State or local entity.”
John Campbell’s event, of course, was not fundraising or soliciting contributions – so any restriction does not apply. Nevertheless, the law has a key exception:
“This solicitation prohibition shall not apply when the public property is made available, through rent, reservation or otherwise, for the exclusive use of any group for a non-governmental purpose as a meeting location.”
Mayor Mapp instructed the City of Plainfield not to issue a permit – and Sunday’s event never took place. John Campbell explained his decision to postpone to Plainfield View.
“I respect the rules if they will be universally enforced, but the lawmakers should not be the lawbreakers. In the past two years, the only events that a permit has been issued at Leland Park for were both held by FOSH (Friends of Sleepy Hollow) which means there have been a number of unauthorized events held by Mayor Mapp and his administration. In fact, the City Clerk’s office wasn’t clear on whether or not an additional permit was required. Despite receiving a legal opinion confirming the validity of my event, I did not want to subject residents to the ‘politics before progress’ mentality that has plagued our city for so long. It’s time that we move forward not backwards.”
I suppose John Campbell Jr’s campaign did make one real error – underestimating the pettiness of their opposition.
One could argue that these tendencies are part of the problem with current leadership, and that this fall fair situation is indicative of the ultra-politicized attitude and abuse of power that we must work to eliminate.
Over the past two years, I’ve gone to City Council meetings regularly on behalf of this blog, where I see a dueling governing body that lacks cohesion. The Regular Democratic Organization accuses Mayor Mapp’s Plainfield Democratic Organization of a dictatorial, non-inclusive, top-down approach, while the PDO claims the RDO jsut wants to see the mayor fail, politically.
From my new vantage point as a member of the Board of Education, I increasingly realize that both cases are valid. I also see how the City Council lacks independent leadership to bridge the factional gap and to work together to find common solutions that benefit our community, our city.
John Campbell possesses the leadership skills to be this person, as well as the courage to stand up for what he believes is best for the people, regardless of the consequences. He places a particularly strong emphasis on individual constituent service, and being held accountable for his decisions.
We sit at a juncture where developers want to be involved with Plainfield, but “development” is an awful misnomer when referring to projects that do not benefit our existing population. I believe John Campbell will serve as a leading voice demanding good deals.
Like Mr. Campbell, I’ve witnessed the Plainfield political landscape since before I can remember. The same people who were active politically over twenty years ago are still influential today. That’s fine, their knowledge is appreciated. But on the flip side, so few young people are staying in Plainfield, let alone getting involved here. At some point we must allow for new ideas and new advocates.
John Campbell, Jr certainly deserves the chance to serve the people of Plainfield on its City Council.
Election Day is today – Tuesday, November 3. I encourage you to vote John Campbell in the Second Ward.