For all the gnashing and gnarling, you'd think a stake was being driven through the heart of a vampire at last night's special meeting of the Plainfield City Council to consider moving the school board election date to November.
The gnashing and gnarling in question came from current members of the Board of Education who marshaled a series of arguments against moving the election date from April to November.
While Council President Adrian Mapp pointed out that the move had the support of both NJEA, the statewide teachers union, and the NJ School Boards Association, board members were not mollified.
Board of Ed President Renata Hernandez excoriated Mapp and the City Council for having the temerity to act on its own initiative, despite the clear language of the law allowing it to do so, ending her remarks by saying 'the Board of Education will not be ignored...It looks like I might need to run for a public office...'
She was joined by BOE members Wilma Campbell (who said she had reached out to all but Councilor Reid), Dr. Susan Phifer (appointed to fill Rasheed Abdul-Haqq's seat), and Alex Edache, as well as 'king maker' John Campbell and BOE attorney Charles Craig.
John Campbell's remarks were the low point of the evening, in which he alleged the decision would somehow deprive 'these young kids', slurred Councilor Mapp's heritage and said he 'should never salute the American flag anymore'. He also threatened to campaign against Mapp in this year's Ward 3 race, in which Assemblyman Green publicly announced at a recent event that he was supporting Mapp for the seat.
Those speaking in favor of the resolution included Assemblyman Jerry Green, who was a sponsor of the bill and Marie Davis, a former Board of Ed member.
Davis pointed out that when she was on the Board, it was not unusual for candidates to poll 1,000 or more votes each, while in recent years the total vote had often fallen below 1,000.
Green, noting that both house of the Legislature and the Governor had signed off on the bill and that it was designed to address the needs of NJ's eight million residents, apologized 'for the way you guys have been talked to tonight...This is totally embarrassing'.
After the public spoke, Councilors responded.
Councilor Williams took after John Campbell over his reference to Council President Mapp's heritage. She noted that the League of Women Voters had studied the issue and considered it genuine.
Councilors Rivers, Storch, Greaves, and McWilliams spoke to the measure, citing concerns about voter turnout and the cost to taxpayers for funding two separate elections.
Councilors Williams and McWilliams, as well as Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson all pointed out that the move was for four years, at the end of which period the Board of Ed could vote to move back to April election if it thought them better.
Council President Mapp concluded the discussion by noting that it was clear from the comments by members of the Board of Ed that there was no desire on the part of the Board to move the election date, and that that the suggestion that a 'conversation' between the two bodies would have been helpful was not realistic.
Once moved and seconded, the resolution was adopted by a UNANIMOUS roll-call vote at 8:27 PM (scheduled for 7:00 PM, the special meeting never got under way until 7:50 PM, owing to an overlong Executive Session).
-- Dan Damon [follow]