Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Ethics and Responsibility: The City Council and "Politics"
I will be serving as Second Ward Councilman Cory Storch's campaign manager as he runs for re-election, and will be working to elect Dee Dameron as well for the First and Fourth Ward At-large seat. I support Cory for another term because he has been a progressive voice of reason, and many of the initiatives he has led over the years have added positively to Plainfield's quality of life. I think that as one of his allies on the council, I can work with Cory to pass those initiatives that have been stalled by a recalcitrant and ineffective administration. I support Dee because she is knowledgeable about the city budget, outspoken, and deeply committed to serving the people of Plainfield. She is what we need on the council, an independent voice who understands well the inner workings of our municipality. Dee and Cory will have clean campaigns.
At the PDCC meeting a few weeks ago, when the Democratic line was conferred upon his opponent by Jerry Green, Cory stated that he would not engage in mudslinging. He has a record, and any discussion of that is fair game for politics; however, personal attacks on his family and his character were not going to be taken lightly. Jerry Green said that he, too, would stick to the issues, as would his candidates, Rucker and Greaves.
Already, we have seen Jerry Green attack Cory, Adrian, me (tiresome), and other New Democrats by making silly statements aligning us with the "tea party" right-wing of racists and demagogues who continually attack our president. If this is the high road that Green said he would take during this campaign (many of you remember Green's attack on me during my campaign last year), I would hate to see the low road--it would have to be mighty low indeed. It's early in the season, and there is plenty of time for the candidates to re-focus their respective energies on the campaigns and publicly disavow any and all currently serving elected officials who make ad hominem attacks, as well as those whose behavior as elected officials brings dishonor to their elected office.
I am mostly writing, however, in response to comments and questions about the behavior of my colleague, Councilor Bill Reid. Apparently, Reid went to Dee's place of employment during working hours to attempt to convince her not to run for elective office. I don't know why he would do this, as he lives around the corner from her, and could just as easily have gone to her home. Frankly, I don't think it's right for elected officials to visit prospective candidates to try to dissuade them from running. I think, further, that it's highly inappropriate for sitting councilors to go to anyone's workplace for politicking. An equivalent situation would be one of my city council colleagues coming to my classroom at Essex County College last year while I am teaching my students. That did not happen, but certainly, it would be a matter of questionable ethics.
I would add, also, that an attempt to dissuade a woman from running for local office is, in my view, even more egregious. Just the other day, I blogged about a recent event that I attended honoring women in politics--our own former councilor, Linda Carter, was one of the honorees. As I sat listening to the speeches, I thought about Shirley Chisolm, Fannie Lou Hamer Barbara Jordan--all heroes of mine--women who stood up and made a difference. Given the gender inequities that still exist in American politics, which most of the women speaking noted, I think more women should be encouraged to participate in the process.
I haven't spoken to Councilor Reid about what happened, but will be taking it up at our next city council agenda meeting, scheduled for Monday, May 2. Several people have asked me whether the city council has the power to "censure" a colleague for conduct unbecoming. That is a question for the Corporation Counsel to answer. In the meantime, I look forward to a vigorous, issues-based campaign.