The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Conduct Unbecoming: My Response to Personal Attacks

Rebecca with Democratic Committeewoman (2-7) Dorothy Henry, Campaign Chair on Senior Issues
Given the number of phone calls and emails that I have received since yesterday from residents and supporters regarding Rashid Burney’s baseless, unwarranted, and unprovoked attacks on me and my character, I feel I must respond. My focus afterward, however, will be on my campaign and bringing ethical leadership to that council seat.
Many who called found his smears, in addition to being disingenuous, disheartening, defensive, and dishonest. I agree: they are nothing but “smoke and mirrors” to deflect criticism of his own ineffectiveness over the past four years over such serious issues as the Monarch project, the $287,000 Senior Center debacle, the Muhlenberg hospital closing, his inability to do anything about our taxes, and so on.
Rather than pushing constructive proposals of his own (perhaps there are none?), he would rather run around spreading untruths about me, the underdog. For an incumbent to attack a newcomer who has no party support shows serious weakness and lack of character. 
I told Mr. Burney after the committee meeting, where he was given the party line without a democratic vote by the duly-elected local Democrats, that I would run a clean campaign: I would dissect and discuss the shortcomings of his record as a councilman, which was fair, but I would not engage in personal attacks, and I have not. I said the same thing to former Councilman Don, and he has respected that mutual agreement. My position is clear if one reads my blog posts. I said nothing about Rashid's character—just his record. Voters will make inferences on the quality of character of each candidate as we move forward.
Instead of attacking me—the grassroots underdog—Rashid should focus on defending his own record. In addition, he has another opponent, a former councilman who is also running a vigorous campaign and who has a record that should be scrutinized closely. But, instead, Rashid is running all over town, contacting the same “New Democrats” he criticizes behind our backs to try to enlist their support for his campaign. He is also trying to question the support I am receiving from Councilman Cory Storch with a whisper campaign. I am not doing that—I am out walking the neighborhoods of this city’s Second and Third Wards, working hard to show that I will bring a new voice and vision to the council table.
In terms of the party line, I asked the assemblyman, who is currently the municipal chairman, to endorse me—there is no secret about that. Everyone knows that I did so, as I made sure that everyone, including committee people, my neighbors, and all my supporters, understood that I thought I deserved the chairman’s support. I told our chairman that if he wanted to have a good councilperson, one who has shown the ability to work hard and actively put the rubber to the road to advance Plainfield, and who actually can bring constructive proposals to the city, I was the better candidate and that I would like his endorsement. The municipal chair’s endorsement can be helpful in convincing some of the 68 duly-elected committee people that their vote should go to a particular candidate. I would have been foolish not to ask the chairman for his support—all candidates do so.
Councilman Adrian Mapp advocated on my behalf as well—there was no “carrot” to earn “cooperation” from either one of us. Rashid simply made that up. 

I am a part of the elected Democratic leadership of the local party as Second Ward Leader for the Plainfield Democratic City Committee. The New Democrat club members are Democrats, many have been committee members for several years, and we work with the party on a regular basis.
I reminded the chairman of last year’s mayoral election, when Rashid was running for the city committee on the Assemblyman’s and Mayor Robinson-Briggs’s ticket, and yet did not come out of his home to campaign on their behalf—Rashid didn’t even put the mayor’s or the assemblyman’s signs up! I reminded the assemblyman that, unlike Rashid Burney, I actively support the candidates I am running with, and I stand with them. I asked the assemblyman to consider that when endorsing. I ran for a committee seat so that I could have a voice in Democratic politics here in Plainfield and at the county level. I am not the kind to hide in my mansion, as Rashid did throughout the entire primary campaign season.
As an off-the-line underdog, I fought for my committee seat, beating my opponent by a more than 3 to 1 margin, and I did it by walking and talking to every Democrat in my district. Assemblyman Green stuck to his promise to Rashid, saying that Rashid was his candidate. I respected that, and the assemblyman will attest to the fact that I accepted that his endorsement would go to Rashid. The assemblyman and I parted genially, and he complimented me once again on my unmatched work ethic on behalf of my beliefs.
Now, I would have liked to have had some support from the assemblyman because he has some influence over the committee, and his support would have been helpful in my earning some additional committee votes at the committee meeting where the line was to have been voted on. I openly asked for support from the voting members at the committee meeting when the chairman gave me the opportunity to speak on my own behalf, so there is no secret about that, either. However, I thought that after each candidate spoke, there would be a vote.
But there was no vote.  And that is what Rashid Burney did not address in his post attacking me. He was given the line without a vote or even a recommendation by the duly-elected 68-member Democratic committee. As elected committee people, part of our responsibility is to help select the candidates to run on the line. The questions that came forth immediately afterward, through email, phone calls, and at gatherings were, "Why was there even a committee meeting if Rashid was automatically getting the line?" "Why were you allowed to even speak, if nothing you said would even be taken into consideration?" "What exactly, is the committee elected to do?" Many of those in attendance were shocked by the fact that there was not even a vote, and felt that they were disenfranchised.
Many Plainfield residents, including the elected committee Democrats who couldn’t make it to the meeting, contacted me and emailed me afterward to ask how the voting went, and I had to tell them that there was no vote. That is past now, and I am going to focus on running the best campaign to bring REAL CHANGE to Plainfield.
So, there you have it. I hope that Rashid will stop with the petty negative attacks on me, and will end the negativity, defensiveness, and especially the smears, because they truly are unseemly.
I am campaigning for this council seat with the active support and endorsement of two RDO Democrats, Second Ward Councilman Cory Storch and Third Ward Councilman Adrian Mapp, and I will focus on what is important in this election--the PEOPLE OF PLAINFIELD.
For myself, I am committed to running my grassroots campaign to win the confidence and support of ALL the residents of the Second and Third Wards. I will offer my proposals for a stronger and effective city council, and will work to bring positive change to our city.
All best,
Endorsed by 
Councilors Cory Storch (Ward 2) and Adrian Mapp (Ward 3)

Rebecca Williams, City Council Candidate
New Democrats for Plainfield

 Column D
Vote Tuesday, June 8


  1. Rebecca, please encourage residents of Plainfield to come out and meet you on Saturday, May 22, at our fundraiser yard sale at 1326 Watchung Avenue.
    (And feel free to edit this comment as you see fit).

  2. Keep your head up Rebecca. As you said it's a sign of weakness for this man to be acting like you did something wrong. To call you unethical is the height of hypocrisy, look at what he's done and what he allowed to happen to the city. We need change and you're most definately it. Good luck to you

  3. Wow, you said a lot. Thank you for your honesty and all your hard work. I am voting for change, You have my vote!