Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What will Watson appointment mean for New Dems?

What does this move mean for the New Dems' future?

Plainfield's New Democrats were caught completely off-guard by Mayor Adrian Mapp's surprise selection of former PMUA executive director Eric Watson as the acting head of the Department of Public Works and Urban Development.

Along with the rest of the community, they must make sense of this appointment -- which is entirely within the Mayor's prerogatives -- and try and discern its impact for the future, both for Plainfield and for the New Democrats.

Mayor Mapp has said he bases the selection on Watson's experience and told Courier News reporter Sergio Bichao that Watson 'could easily hit the ground running' (see the Courier story here). He is also a resident, which removes that question from being a consideration as it has been in recent personnel moves.

Reactions to the Watson appointment have been varied. (For a list of links to some of my previous coverage of Watson, the PMUA, and his role in the Robinson-Briggs re-election campaign, see here.)

A few people have said to me that Watson's qualities as an administrator should outweigh public perceptions about the severance package he was awarded by the PMUA board. In the view of these folks, the matters can be separated, the hubbub will subside in a few days, and Plainfield will move on.

Many more, though, have expressed reservations and worry about the effect Mapp's decision may have on Councilors Rebecca Williams and Cory Storch, the only New Dems besides the mayor to hold elected office.

Williams, the Wards 2/3 at-large representative who won a contested June Primary without the backing of Assemblyman Jerry Green, is on the November slate which is headed by Cory Booker and Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Storch, who represents Ward 2, faces the likelihood of a challenge if he chooses to run in next June's primary. His current term expires December 31, 2015. Storch is quoted in the Courier story as saying he will vote against Watson's appointment.

There is strong community feeling that Watson's settlement with the PMUA was egregious and tarnishing and will leave unresolved questions over his and Mayor Mapp's heads concerning Watson's long and close relationships with Assemblyman Green and PMUA commissioners Malcolm R. Dunn and Cecil Sanders, the architects of the PMUA settlement.

New Democrats must try and figure out if the Watson appointment is a coup for Mapp, a catastrophe, or something in between. Only time will tell.

For now, there is nothing but consternation.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

It's not separating PMUA from his job with the administration, it's the appointment of someone whose reputation - regardless of where he worked - is in question.

I don't think the mayor thought this through.

Anonymous said...

Well said Dan

Anonymous said...

Mapp has disgraced himself and his office. He has now joined Plainfield's Tweed Ring.