Friday, October 28, 2016
Commentary on the Candidates' Forum
It was fairly clear at Wednesday's candidate forum that former two-term Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is still not over her long competition with current Mayor Adrian Mapp. She lost a third-term bid to him in the June 2013 primary, but showed up to chide him at many meetings after he took office in January 2014. Now she is running as an Independent against Democrat Charles McRae for the Third Ward City Council seat which Mapp previously held.
This post on a few topics is a follow-up to my earlier post on the forum.
Hiring and Firing: After eight years as mayor, Sharon Robinson-Briggs should have a better understanding of the separation of powers. As a Third Ward council representative, she would be in the legislative branch, not the executive branch and so would have no power over hiring or firing staff, despite her remarks Wednesday.
Economic Development: Robinson-Briggs contrasted the city with Westfield and Cranford and said Plainfield has "more than our allotted number of dollar stores and nail places." Prior to her administration, the city had a cabinet-level deputy city administrator for economic development, but she p but the responsibility in the hands of a middle manager of Community Development who could be found on the city website only by drilling down several steps. Currently Economic Development is on the front page with a link to the deputy city administrator levels.
The Vet Center: Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs signed a deal with developer Glen Fishman that said the Veterans' Center would be sold to the city for $1 only after all 63 condos on the upper three floors were sold. After years of limited sales, some condos were rented and the proposed center remained an office for the Monarch management. She said Wednesday it was the "council :led by our mayor" that would not allow a fee to be paid to open the center during her tenure. It was not occupied by veterans until Veterans' Day 2014, at which time the former mayor took credit.
The Typo: I was not sure I heard Charles McRae take credit for finding a large error in a past city budget, but Dan today wrote "McRae pointed out that, as a member of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, he caught a $1 million+ error in the budget that Robinson-Briggs had submitted (he politely refrained from naming her, only saying it was during a 'previous administration')"
Actually, I found that error and urged then-City Administrator Marc Dashield to take a look. Initially I did not want to "be .part of the story," a grave sin for journalists, but as a blogger it kind of got to me how the error went unnoticed by so many officials who sent the Municipal Data Sheet document to Trenton with their signatures on it. Read "A Bit of a Stretch" from 2008.
The general election is Nov. 8. Check your sample ballot for your polling place and review your choices for president, Congress, freeholders and Third Ward City Council. (In the other council race, Rebecca Williams is running unopposed for the Citywide at-large seat.
As of Oct. 23, there are 23,321 total Plainfield registered voters, including 14,524 Democrats, 12 Green Party, 12 Libertarian Party, five National Law Party, two Reform Party, 930 Republicans, six Socialist Party, 23 Conservative Party and 7,793 unaffiliated voters. In the general election, you can vote across party lines as you wish.