Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bashe tells Charter Commission how Plainfield is different

The Plainfield Charter Study Commission's strategy of inviting former officials to be interviewed on their views of the city's charter has proven an interesting way to unwrap the very complicated assignment the Commission has.

On Thursday evening, the Commission heard from former city administrators Harold Gibson and Larry Bashe as well as former Councilor Don Davis.

Both Gibson and Bashe were critical of the idea of nonpartisan elections -- surprising, perhaps, considering that they served mayors of different political parties (Bashe serving Paul O'Keeffe, Plainfield's last GOP mayor; Gibson serving under Democrat Rick Taylor).

Gibson said he considered nonpartisan elections 'not worth two cents', citing Newark as an example, and that they were costly because of the high chance of having to have a runoff to settle on a winner.

Bashe said he was 'not a fan' of nonpartisan elections, arguing that a two-party system encouraged political discipline and more involvement in the political process, noting he had great admiration for anyone who chose to run for public office.

A remark by Bashe resonated strongly with my experience. In discussing possible alternative forms of government, Bashe almost casually remarked that while a Council-Manager form was perhaps preferable in terms of ensuring a highly professional operation, it was 'more likely to be successful in communities that are homogeneous', which is not the case in Plainfield, a very diverse (or heterogeneous) community.

'Plainfield is not a place you come to to get away from things', he said, 'you come here to get involved.'

That is what attracted me to Plainfield thirty years ago, and that is still its strength and draw.

The drama, after all, is a sign that people care -- and care passionately -- about their community.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Kudos to the commission for their hard work and due diligence. There is so much to consider and look at -- the interviews they are conducting are very interesting. I look forward to their recommendations and again appreciate their dedication and commitment to serving in this vital capacity.
Peter Price