Monday's agenda-fixing session for the annual reorganization in January has been canceled, according to a notice from City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh. No new date was mentioned, nor was any reason given.
I hope this is does not portend more animosity between the city's political factions. People already have the jitters over national politics. But there are some worrisome signs.
--On Dec. 5, correspondence requesting the reappointment of Dollie Hamlin to the Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners was noted on the agenda, but no action ensued. It would have been a direct appointment by the council, had it been moved to the Dec. 12 regular meeting agenda for a vote. Hamlin was appointed in 2013 to an unexpired term ending July 1, 2016. Besides being the purchasing agent for the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, Hamlin is also on the ministerial staff of Ruth Fellowship Ministries, where Councilwoman Tracey Brown is pastor. Brown lost the June primary and her council term ends this month, but it appears likely that she will challenge Mayor Adrian O. Mapp when he runs for a second term in 2017. Brown is also pastor to former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who lost to Mapp in 2013.
--Since taking office in January 2014, Mapp has faced opposition from a council majority for some important initiatives.But because Councilwoman Rebecca Williams won Brown's Citywide at-large seat in November and Charles McRae crushed Robinson-Briggs 2,544 to 995 for the Third Ward seat. Mapp will soon enjoy a majority. The Plainfield Democratic City Committee, which Mapp chairs, must offer the council three names for the Second & Third Ward seat Williams will vacate for her new seat..It is the council's duty to choose one to serve until the next general election. When that will happen is unclear.
--Much is at stake in 2017. Besides the mayoral race, the Fourth Ward council seat is up and Assemblyman Jerry Green, who is chairman of the Union County Democratic Party, must run for re-election. Democrats reorganize in 2017, with 68 city committee seats up for election. Right after the primary, the committee must l choose a chairman for two years. Green had previously held both city and county chairmanships. In November, both Green and Mapp opened Democratic headquarters in Plainfield, with Green pointedly omitting signage for City Council races at his location. Clarification: Green says he did tell Democrats to support Democratic candidates for president, Congress and county freeholder as well as "all of Column A," meaning local Democratic candidates in all municipalities in Union County.
The political animosities run deep in Plainfield, but in 2017 the city's diverse populations may face larger threats from the national level. No matter who wins locally in 2017, the city will lose unless the antagonism lessens.