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Friday, November 2, 2007

Mapp vows not to be a 'sheep' - Westfield Leader

Published in the Westfield Leader, Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mapp Vows to Not Be a ‘Sheep,’
Says He Will Challenge County ‘Bosses’

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

WESTFIELD — After being bounced earlier this year from the Democratic line, Freeholder Adrian Mapp heads the Independent “Clean Up Government” slate that appears on Tuesday’s General Election ballot.

In an interview at The Westfield Leader office Wednesday, Mr. Mapp said his willingness “to stand against the county party, the bosses [and] the machine” has attracted supporters to his campaign. He chose to run as an Independent because he “didn’t think just walk[ing] away from the process” would “be the right thing to do.” Speaking on the county budget, Mr. Mapp said the freeholders “can do a lot more to reduce the burden of property taxes,” such as reducing overtime costs at the county jail and making department heads more accountable.

Mr. Mapp said he “took no comfort in having to vote against” a $7-million consent-bond ordinance for the Black United Fund (African-American Fund) pre-school project in Plainfield. He noted that “no one knows who the financing agency is” or is familiar with the project itself. The Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA) put forth the ordinance. He said one board member “indicated that the freeholders are obligated to vote for anything the UCIA puts before the board.” He told The Leader, “ I think that is just so wrong …That certainly shows to me that, in this kind of a process, the people lose. That’s not right.”

When asked whether county Democratic Party Chairman Charlotte DeFillippo should be the UCIA executive director, Mr. Mapp said, “That is one of the things that is wrong with politics…not just in Union County but across the state. We have so many counties and municipalities where there is double dipping, where people are wearing two hats and three hats, and I think there ought to be some limits to the kinds of jobs that they (county and municipal political party officials) can hold,” Mr. Mapp said.

When asked if the 9-0 Democratic majority on the freeholder board has led to a lack of debate at meetings, the freeholder said, “All elected officials have got to muster the strength that lies within all of us to disagree with the party bosses and the structure when necessary, [even] if it means being smacked down by the party leadership.”

Citing his own independence, he said, “What I will not do is just be a opposed to attempting to lead and shape the direction of the party and of the government.”

On professional-services contracts, Mr. Mapp said the current New Jersey pay-to-play law needs to be strengthened to close loopholes that allow towns and counties “to circumvent the process” by choosing anyone who submits a RFP (request for proposals) regardless of the amount they want to charge.

Mr. Mapp said the state legislature could help reduce property taxes by placing a cap on legal fees charged by attorneys representing county governments in lawsuits.

On county projects before town boards, such as the county’s public-safety building in Westfield, the freeholder said, “We (the county) shouldn’t be playing the role of headmaster, willing to smack down or discipline the students.”

He said the county has an “obligation” to listen to its constituents, as it did during discussions regarding Ponderosa Farm in Scotch Plains. After input from residents, the county ditched plans for a children’s farm and is now constructing ballfields on the site.

Mr. Mapp said he wants to see the State Legislature create freeholder districts in Union County. His plan creates six individual districts and three at-large seats. He said the system would give each town two elected freeholders and would help “rid our county of the [Democratic] dominance that prevails today.”

In closing, Mr. Mapp said voters should “not be blind slaves or loyalists to the party system…It is very safe to cross the line.”

Online story here (PDF).

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