The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rebecca Williams: Effective Leadership, REAL Change!

New Democrats for Plainfield City Council Candidate Rebecca Williams handing petitions to Plainfield City Clerk Laddie Wyatt on filing day.

Dear Plainfield, 

Welcome to my official campaign blog! I am a City Council Candidate in the June 8th Democratic Primary election for the 2nd and 3rd Ward At-large seat. I will be running as the candidate of choice of the New Democrats for Plainfield against the incumbent who, at a recent city committee meeting, was given the party’s line by Assemblyman Jerry Green (without a committee vote or even a recommendation by the 68-member committee) based on a personal promise the assemblyman said that he had made to the incumbent a year ago. I, too, am a duly-elected Democratic committeewoman in the 2nd Ward, but I won my committee seat running off the line as a New Democrat, after which I was unanimously elected by my fellow Ward 2 committee colleagues to serve as Ward 2 captain. 

As a founding member of the New Democrats for Plainfield, I am proud of the work that we have done over the years to promote ethical leadership and good government. I can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch that work continue to be compromised by a lack of leadership in the 2nd and 3rd Ward At-large council seat. I believe that I can continue to make a substantial contribution to Plainfield, and I will do so from the council table. 

I have a real vision for the city, one based on providing superior city services, stable taxes, and good government. My vision is based on making Plainfield a destination city, and I have a plan to share. 

I am a grassroots Democratic activist who has walked every street and knocked on every door in Plainfield in getting four of Plainfield’s current city council members elected (click here for some background: New Democrats for Plainfield: Reflections from a Founding Member). Now, though, I am compelled to throw my own hat into the ring.

At every turn, I find the residents of Wards 2 and 3 voicing severe disappointment, frustration, and anger over the ineffectiveness and silence on the part of the incumbent, given the critical situation Plainfield faces on so many fronts: disregard for and lack of transparency in the state of our finances; the devastating impact of the loss of Muhlenberg hospital (no other area acute care facility, and 1,100 jobs gone); and unprecedented funding cuts for Plainfield's most widely used resource, the Plainfield Public Library.

In addition, the rise in the number of home invasions, burglaries, and car thefts have left residents of the two wards fearful in their own homes; an ever-increasing number of home foreclosures (with attendant vandalism and quality-of-life deterioration for the surrounding homes), resulting in rapidly declining property values; and an absolute failure by the incumbent to do something constructive about property taxes, which are driving residents to leave Plainfield.

These matters of serious concern raised by my fellow Plainfielders ought to be more than enough to demonstrate that it is time for a change at the council table. My attitude on these critical issues is that if the incumbent won’t “go hard” on these issues for the people who elected him to office, he ought to “go home.” 

Rather than another four years of “go along, get along” expediency and fear of offending political bosses, to the detriment of our own citizens, we need representation that will actively represent ALL the residents of Wards 2 and 3 and not sit passively by, waiting to see which way the political winds will blow before taking a position.

Ward 2 and Ward 3 residents must ask themselves, are they are better off after four years of the incumbent’s inaction and silence on the City Council? I believe that a single moment’s thought will lead voters to conclude that there MUST be a CHANGE in the wards’ representation or things will only get worse.

I have been canvassing the streets over the past few years, meeting with and discussing our city with hundreds of residents who have brought forward a number of issues which form the basis of my campaign for change, especially the lack of transparency regarding Plainfield’s financial condition, the continuing PMUA mess, the crumbling infrastructure, the huge increase in our tax burden, the impact of the Muhlenberg closure, the weakening of our public library during a time of its greatest value, the concerns for safety in our own homes and neighborhoods, and the absolute failure to stabilize our property taxes. Here, again, residents find the incumbent’s silence deeply alarming.

While I have constructive proposals to effectively tackle and resolve these issues, I also have a vision for Plainfield’s future that will build on several characteristics that have been completely overlooked during the incumbent's several years on the city council: specifically, using the arts and cultural infrastructure of Plainfield to develop it as a future arts and culture destination (one of the many available buildings in the Leland Avenue area of the Second Ward could be a perfect vehicle), to advocate on behalf of the community for more upgrades in Cedar Brook Park (such as adding a par course, like the county has done in Nomahegan Park), and also to work with the county and state bring about a Civic Sports and Educational Complex for our city, which has been a long-time dream of Plainfield’s tennis and sports activist Donald Van Blake, who is serving as an Honorary Campaign Chair. 

I have been in conversation with a number of influential individuals and elected officials regarding how to use President Obama's stimulus funding to advance these proposals. There is no end of dreams we can be working toward, if only we have the vision, the courage, the commitment, and the willingness to put our collective shoulder to the wheel, and that is what I am here to do.

I am not content to let the 2nd and 3rd Wards deteriorate further because of the incumbent’s lack of will to reach out to and advocate on behalf of his constituents. I will reach out to you, not sit back and wait for an invitation.  As a matter of fact, I have been doing so for years.

At this critical juncture, we need strength, not weakness; we need advocacy, not silence; we need independence, not submissiveness; we need collaboration, not stubbornness. Strength * advocacy * independence * collaboration--these are the qualities that I will bring to the council table to move Plainfield in the right direction.

I will offer more on my vision for Plainfield in the coming days and weeks, as well as my detailed proposals for Plainfield’s future when I am on the City Council. I will be stopping by your homes and reaching out to you to share my vision and to hear your thoughts, and I look forward to earning your support!

I am a life-long Democrat who will not betray the trust you put in me as your council representative. I will maintain the New Democrats' ideals of ethical leadership and good government for effective change. I will bring an independent voice to the 2nd and 3rd Ward At-Large Council seat, beholden only to you, the residents.

I am, as one of my heroes, the late Shirley Chisolm, famously said, “Unbought and Unbossed!”

All best,
Rebecca Williams, City Council Candidate
New Democrats for Plainfield

Column D
Vote Tuesday, June 8