Audience outbursts at Wednesday's League of Women Voters candidates' forum included one so intense that moderator Ann Armstrong delivered a timeout by walking away from the podium.
After the meeting, she could be heard asking LWV members whether two previous forums had reached that pitch. The loudest yelling broke out when Mayor Adrian O. Mapp challenged Rev. Tracey Brown over "a lie by her campaign team"and then began to impugn her integrity as a pastor.
Her supporters rose up yelling and ignored Armstrong's warning to deal with issues, not personalities.
An estimated 250 people crowded the Emerson Community School cafetorium for the forum.
Mapp, Brown, Councilwoman Bridget Rivers and Dr. Henrilynn Ibezim are all running to be on the Democratic party line in the Nov. 7 general election. On June 6, the public will choose one.
See mayoral and council candidates' information here.
Mapp is running on his record since taking office in 2014, which includes having to right the city's finances after high turnover in the previous administration. He claimed drops in crime and unemployment during his tenure, and took credit for development including a $50 million, 212-unit apartment complex, among many other accomplishments.
His issue with Brown centers on a distribution of campaign literature with an altered news article inside alleging wrongdoing by Mapp. After the forum resumed, Mapp said, "It's just not right for my reputation to be tarnished. I stand on my record of accomplishments."
Brown defended her team and said they had nothing to do with the incident.
"As a pastor, I don't lie - I preach the Gospel," she said, calling Mapp's comments "a disgrace," which set off more yelling.
Rivers called for mixed use development instead of all apartments, and claimed as an accomplishment passage of a tethering law She and all others pledged to work for a full-service youth center.
Ibezim drew laughs with his jibes at Mapp, but gave few indications of what he would do as mayor. He and others made sure to point out they were on Column G at the right side of the ballot.
"On June 6, forget about Column A - vote for Column G," he said, a tricky bit of advice as opposing candidates are all lumped together on Column G. Others made sure to give both column and line on the ballot
The City Council candidates followed the mayoral forum. Running for an unexpired one-year term are Joylette Mills-Ransome, currently an appointee to the seat and on Column A with Mapp; Cameron E. Cox, running with Ibezim; and Alma Blanco, running with Rivers. Blanco said she hoped to resolve the "great divide" in Plainfield, cut wasteful spending and work for a "state of the art community recreation center." Cox disagreed that crime is down and said if elected, he would "bring in a public safety director that will be honest" about crime. Mills-Ransome said she has been very active in council committee work and constituent service, which she hopes to continue if elected.
Elliott Simmons, Terri Briggs and Steve Hockaday are vying for a four-year term serving the Fourth Ward. Simmons, on Ibezim's slate, was absent Wednesday. Briggs is running with Brown and wants to help "older children" get jobs. She envisions a partnership with Neighborhood House to have a recreation center. Hockaday, on Column A with Mapp, wants young people to learn coding and sees Plainfield becoming "the Silicon Valley of the East."
Voters may find one more round of campaign flyers in their mailboxes over the weekend. Sample ballots have been mailed. Polls will be open on June 6 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Check ballot for your polling place.) Independents must file by 4 p.m. on June 6 to be on the November ballot along with primary winners.